How Your Pelvic Floor Changes After Pregnancy

How Your Pelvic Floor Changes After Pregnancy

Throughout your pregnancy, your body underwent some significant changes to accommodate your growing fetus. Like the 3.5 to 4 million women who give birth each year in the United States, it may take a little time for everything to return to normal, and there may be a new normal.

One area that’s well worth paying attention to after you give birth is the health of your pelvic floor. In this month's blog post, Dr. Denise Furlong and our team here at Chicago Center for Women’s Health want to discuss postpartum pelvic floor health and what you can do to restore these important tissues more quickly.

Pelvic floor 101

We often hear about the pelvic floor, but it’s helpful to review exactly what these tissues are. Your pelvic floor is a band of muscles that stretches from your tailbone to your pubic bone to form a supportive hammock for certain organs, including your:

Your pelvic floor also contains several sphincters, which are muscular bands that your vagina, urethra, and anus pass through.

When your pelvic floor weakens

As you progress through your pregnancy, you place more pressure on your pelvic floor, which can weaken the tissues. This is perfectly normal and explains why you may have experienced certain side effects, such as urinary incontinence (you leaked urine when you coughed, sneezed, or laughed) or the inability to control passing wind.

After your pregnancy, it may take a little time for these muscles to regain their strength, and some of the side effects you experienced during pregnancy may linger.

Restrengthening your pelvic floor

While you can wait for your pelvic floor to restrengthen on its own, we very much recommend that you do your part through pelvic floor strengthening exercises. The best exercises are what we call Kegels and this link shows you how to perform them correctly.

Problematic postpartum pelvic floor health

Most of your postpartum side effects should dissipate after three to six months, but up to 31% of women still experience incontinence after six months.

If this is the case with you, we may recommend that you engage in pelvic floor physical therapy, which goes beyond Kegel exercises to help restrengthen the group of muscles.

If, after targeted physical therapy, you’re still having issues with incontinence or pelvic floor dysfunction, we may turn to a pessary or bladder sling.

The bottom line is that changes in your pelvic floor are to be expected after you give birth, and it may take a little time for everything to function the way it did before. But if it’s taking too much time, we’re here to help.

For questions about postpartum pelvic floor health, please contact us at one of our two locations in Bedford Park or Oak Lawn, Illinois. You can call the office of your choice.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Can Pelvic Organ Prolapse Be Prevented?

Pelvic organ prolapse, which affects millions of women, is far from an inevitable side effect of aging. There are steps that you can take to prevent this problem, which includes understanding your risks.

I Can Never Predict When I'll Have My Period

Perhaps your periods have been unpredictable from the start or you used to be regular, but not anymore. There are many reasons why women encounter irregular menstrual cycles, and we explore them here.

I'm Worried About Blood in My Urine

Finding blood where it’s not supposed to be, such as in your urine, can be alarming. For women, there are a number of different reasons that can account for the blood, ranging from perfectly normal to more serious.

5 Types of Prolapse and How They're Treated

Pelvic organ prolapse affects up to half of women in the United States, but most are unaware of the condition. Given its prevalence, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the different types and symptoms.

Why Do I Have Urinary Incontinence?

While a quarter to a third of adults in the United States have urinary incontinence, the issue strikes far more women than men. Here’s a look at what might be driving the problem and your solutions.

Tips for Life After Menopause

Each year in the United States, about 1.3 million women reach menopause, which can lead to some fairly significant changes in their overall health and wellness. Here are some tips for managing the post-menopausal world.