Updated: Apr 7, 2020
For far too long, dysfunctions associated with pregnancy and postpartum stages have been taboo. “I leak when I sneeze”, “Sex has become painful and I don’t enjoy it”, “I have pelvic pain on a daily basis”…your dysfunction–whatever that may be–is a common part of pregnancy.
Think about what your body goes through to have a baby. You grow and change to accommodate a little life in your body for nine months and then that baby comes out through a very small opening or you have a C-section to deliver the baby. Either way, your body goes through an incredible amount of trauma to bring your little bundle of joy into the world. When I hear the word trauma, I think of a terrible accident – someone breaking a limb or being impaled by something.
What you go through is not an accident like that, but the birthing process is so hard on your body, it’s also considered a trauma. Yet, after delivery, moms aren’t kept in the hospital for weeks in order to recover from this trauma (barring any extreme circumstance) as you’d expect with any other type of situation involving a serious injury.
Now, as a mom you wouldn’t trade all of the pain or discomfort for anything; you have a priceless gift in the child you’ve just given birth to. But let’s not ignore you; let’s examine what your body has gone through and try to help the recovery process along. I’m going to gloss over a few common dysfunctions that occur either during pregnancy or postpartum. I will cover each of these in their own individual upcoming articles, but for now, I just want you to be aware of these dysfunctions and to know that, if you have a dysfunction (or two or three), you are not alone!
1. Urinary/fecal Incontinence
Incontinence occurs when one cannot control the flow of urine or fecal matter. During pregnancy and delivery, all of your pelvic floor muscles are under tremendous strain and can become weakened, causing this loss of control. For some people, there are certain things that can trigger this, such as sneezing or jumping. But no matter when it happens, incontinence is inconvenient! You don’t have to live with this forever – your pelvic floor can be strengthened to help improve this dysfunction!
2. Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ (or multiple) lower down out of their normal position. This occurs when there is trauma to the pelvic floor muscle and tissue, such as in childbirth. Prolapse can affect various organs, such as the bladder, the uterus, the vagina, and the rectum. Symptoms can be mild or severe, with some women only experiencing a slight drop in their organs and some women experiencing a rather severe drop. You don’t have to live with this forever – your pelvic floor can be strengthened to help improve this dysfunction!
3. Diastasis Recti
Diastasis Recti occurs when there is a separation between the muscles of your rectus abdominis. This is a naturally occurring phenomena in any pregnancy, as your belly has to grow in order to make room for baby. It becomes a dysfunction when it does not heal after delivery. In many women, the gap between these muscles does not close and the fascia (tissue around your muscle) stays soft and does not return to its original density. You don’t have to live with this forever – your abdominal muscles can be strengthened properly to help improve this dysfunction!
4. Pelvic Girdle Pain
Pelvic Girdle Pain comes from the bones that make up the circular shape of your pelvis. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called Relaxin, which allows your joints to relax and expand in order for your body to make the changes that it needs to. However, with the relaxation of your joints can also come pain and discomfort as your bones shift. This can cause issues not just in your pelvic girdle, but also in your hips, low back, and thighs. You don’t have to live with this forever – your pelvic floor can be strengthened to help improve this dysfunction!
5. Perineal Pain
Perineal Pain originates in the region between the anus and the vagina. In the process of giving birth, many women experience a varying degree of tearing in this region, which can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. If you had greater than a 1st degree tear, you’ve more than likely damaged muscles as well, not just tissue. Just as with any other muscle tear, you want to rehabilitate it to bring it back to full strength. You don’t have to live with this forever – your pelvic floor can be strengthened to help improve this dysfunction!
Have you noticed a common theme throughout this article? You don’t have to just accept your dysfunction(s) as part of life and limp along trying to endure it. You don’t have to pretend that it doesn’t exist. You don’t have to feel like this is a subject that should never be discussed. This is your health and well-being! There are many other women going through the exact same thing! The best starting point for dealing with a dysfunction is scheduling an appointment with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist. These professionals are trained to identify and diagnose these types of dysfunctions and help you to begin the healing process. They can give you tips and advice that you can incorporate into your daily life, as well as work with the coach or fitness professional that you have. If you are doing a workout program on your own, they can also give you advice on how best to proceed. And Mom Gets Moxie will be providing tips on how to modify exercise for each of these dysfunctions, as well, when they are covered in their individual articles. Be your own advocate! Now that you’re empowered with knowledge about your dysfunctions, begin your road to recovery and healing.