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pelvic floor health during pregnancy
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Health Digest author Catherine Caruso reached out to me about why pelvic floor health is so important during pregnancy, and of course this being one of our major areas of expertise I was more than glad to answer her questions. Here is a brief synopsis of the article, along with a link to the full article below.

Heather Jeffcoat, DPT

What's So Important About Pelvic Floor Health During Pregnancy?

If you've never been pregnant but think it may be in the cards for you, here's a mental trick you can try - just imagine strapping a bowling ball to your abdomen for a day and going about your normal routine. Your pelvic floor muscles would let you know soon enough what an extra strain you've put on them, haha! But seriously, in the real world pregnancy doesn't just overtake your life in one day (thank goodness!), and your body has time to adjust to this new task it's been given. That said, there are a lot of issues to be aware of and tactics you can take to make the whole experience go as smoothly as possible, and that's what we are here for.

Catherine's article begins:

Believe it or not, your pelvic floor muscles can actually play an important and essential role during pregnancy. Located at the base of the pelvis, the pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles that help support your pelvic organs, including your bladder, bowel, and uterus (via Better Health Channel). While many people may not even be aware of their pelvic floor muscles prior to becoming pregnant, they can certainly have a significant impact on your health throughout your life, especially during pregnancy and childbirth.

In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Dr. Heather Jeffcoat, DPT, owner of Femina Physical Therapy in Los Angeles and PT with plusOne, discusses the importance of maintaining good pelvic floor health during pregnancy. According to Dr. Jeffcoat, pelvic floor muscles "serve important functions through all stages of life, but when women start to experience urinary urgency and frequency, bladder leakage or sexual dysfunction, they become intimately aware that this is a region that is deserving of more attention."

As I mention in the article, your pelvic floor muscles are responsible for helping your body perform some of its most basic and essential functions, and during pregnancy they really need to be in peak shape. One great way to improve your pelvic floor health during pregnancy is through a yoga program specifically tailored to pregnancy.

Related: More articles about yoga and pregnancy at Femina PT

And even if everything seems to be going great, it's always a good idea to get assessed by a pelvic health expert to make sure your pelvic floor is ready for the next steps. The article continues:

According to Dr. Jeffcoat, one of the most common signs of pelvic floor dysfunction is bladder leakage, along with urinary urgency and painful sex. In order to make sure this isn't happening, Dr. Jeffcoat recommends going to see a pelvic health physical therapist after 32 weeks of gestation, even if you're not experiencing any symptoms. "I'll often find my pregnant patients are developing overactivity in their pelvic floor muscles," she explains. "With this finding, we start doing pelvic floor muscle relaxation techniques, including specific intravaginal release techniques, mobility exercises for the pelvic floor, hips, and lumbar area, as well as coordinating their breathwork with bearing down to prepare for a vaginal delivery." 

From there the article takes a brief look at what can be done to relax the pelvic floor, and here's one exciting clue... orgasms can help!

When the pelvic floor muscles are in a tonic state of overactivity, it's not as easy to relax them. As a result, breathing techniques, exercises, and even orgasms can help relax your pelvic floor and make your feel more comfortable during pregnancy and childbirth.

There's much more to be learned about pelvic floor health during pregnancy in the full article at the Health Digest website. And if you think you're ready for some pelvic floor therapy, click here to set up an appointment with one of our trained specialists.

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Testimonial by Rosanna R., age 35

Heather has affected my life in the MOST POSITIVE way and I am forever grateful. My husband refers to her as the "sex doctor" so you can only imagine how happy he is with my therapy outcome.

After the birth of my son I suffered from "Vaginismus", however, at the time I just thought I was broken. My "broken vagina" affected me physically but it was an emotional struggle as well. Many women in my life also suffered with pain from sex after their babies were born so I knew I wasn't alone. They told me they "just got used to it" but I couldn't see myself living that way.

Sex wasn't just painful, it was literally impossible - IT DIDNT FIT!

Read more: Testimonial by Rosanna R.,...

Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

I can’t speak highly enough of the theapists at Femina Physical Therapy and how much they have helped me grow, discover, and love my body. I had had painful sex for my entire life, and didn’t know that there was anything that could be done about it. It was at the point where my husband and I were not having sex for MONTHs, because it was just too frustrating, and I hated feeling like I was the ONLY woman out there who had this problem, especially at my age. I finally brought it up to my doctor because I was turning 40 and my husband and I were barely having enough sex to conceive. And she brought up pelvic floor, PT. I didn’t even know this was a “thing”.

Read more: Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

Testimonial by S.S., age 54

Heather is the best! I saw her today for terrible hip/groin pain. I was so impressed with the safety measures in place and felt completely safe . Thanks for the healing hands.

S.S., age 54

Testimonial by J.B.

My husband and I were having problems with painful intercourse. My therapist recommended that I go and get a pelvic floor evaluation from a physical therapist. Having never been treated by a physical therapist, I wondered how this really was going to help me. My husband who is a physician was very supportive and agreed that a PT evaluation would be a great idea. So i made the appointment and was blown away by what I learned. I had no idea that pelvic floor muscles could get tight and have trigger points just like any other muscle in the body. I'm a massage therapist and very familiar with tight muscles, and this new thought really amazed me. Heather's program to help relax and strengthen these muscles made such a difference. I can say that I am 100% pain free during intercourse now. Yippee! Going to the PT appointments and doing the at-home exercises was definitely a discipline, but it's 100% worth it! The rewards are amazing.

-- J.B.

Testimonial by M.M.

My husband and I were married for 5 years and unable to have intercourse, but I never knew why. After numerous awful experiences at doctor’s offices (where many doctors told me I “just needed to relax”), a surgery that didn’t fix the problem, and a year of owning dilators that didn’t get me anywhere, someone finally referred me to Heather for Physical Therapy. I finally had answers and information from someone who knew exactly what I was dealing with!

Read more: Testimonial by M.M.

Testimonial by Julie T.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has honestly changed my life. Before receiving treatment at Femina, I was going doctor to doctor to try and find the answer to my pelvic pain. It has taken me YEARS to find someone that can help fix this. It wasn't until my gynecologist recommended your clinic that I finally felt relief. My pelvic pain is almost gone, and granted I still have a lot more to work on with Laureen (my PT), my original problem is nearly cured. I am so grateful to her.

What is even better is she gave me practical exercises to do at home that were not tedious and provided instant (and lasting) relief. Although I mainly work with Laureen, my interaction with the owner (Heather) has been great. She is very generous, kind, and committed to her business.

It hurts to know there are women out there suffering who will never know or have the opportunity to work with women like Laureen and Heather because this issue is hardly talked about and this field is so rare. I hope more doctors and physical therapists see the value in this work and can relieve more woman of their pain.

-- Julie T., 12/4/16 via Yelp!

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