Post partum rehabilitation is a very important part of a woman’s recovery after having a baby. Proper post partum rehab can help, as well as prevent, a number of different health issues that arise in the months and years after childbirth such as urinary incontinence (peeing a little when you jump, cough, laugh, etc), abdominal separation, pelvic organ prolapse or lower back pain.
Pelvic floor dysfunction: The pelvic floor is a hammock of muscles which support the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and rectum/bowel). These muscles encircle the urethra, vagina and anus. Dysfunction of the pelvic floor occurs when these muscles are over or under contracted, and both of these states can cause problems with urinary or fecal incontinence, painful intercourse, or pelvic organ prolapse.
Pelvic organ prolapse: This occurs when pelvic floor dysfunction or weakness is present. One or more of the pelvic organs that are being supported by the pelvic floor drop down from their position and put pressure on the vaginal walls, causing the walls to bulge into the opening of the vagina. If the uterus prolapses, then the organ itself can actually appear at the opening of the vagina. Prolapses range from grades 1-4. Grades 3 and 4 often require surgery, but the first two grades are fixable with proper strengthening exercises.
Diastasis recti (DR): Diastasis recti or abdominal separation, is often present when a woman has pelvic floor dysfunction. DR occurs when the tissue that connects the abdominal muscles is stretched and pulled apart. This often occurs during pregnancy, and the left and right abdominals look and feel separated. A woman with DR can literally stick her fingers in between her abdominals and feel the separation. One sign that you may have a DR is presence of the "mummy tummy", which is a term used to describe when a woman still looks pregnant months after baby is born. The separation in the abdominals allows for increased bloating and a bulging belly. DR can also cause a great deal of instability in the core and lower back. So, it should not come as a surprise that another one of the symptoms is lower back pain.
Proper postpartum rehabilitation and recovery is absolutely crucial. Pregnancy, labour and delivery (whether it be vaginal delivery or delivery via c-section) are major physical tolls on the body and postpartum rehab is something that should be addressed in order for women to truly feel like themselves again after giving birth.
Dr. Jillian is a certified MUTU pro. She has been trained to help mothers engage and strengthen their deep core and pelvic floor musculature, enabling them to recover from pelvic floor dysfunction or diastasis.