You may wonder, why do I need to go to pelvic floor therapy while I'm pregnant? I don't have any pelvic floor issues.
Having a pelvic floor therapy session before birth can teach you how to connect with your pelvic floor and prepare the vaginal tissues for delivery. This can help you have an easier birth, decrease your risk of tearing and know what to expect after birth for pelvic floor healing.
As in any pelvic floor therapy session, what we do is entirely up to you. You don't have to do any of these things if they don't feel comfortable to you, and you can choose to do them all. I have had plenty of pelvic floor therapy sessions where we never look or touch the pelvic floor. That is ok! Everyone has different comfort levels and we will never force anything that you don't want. You are also allowed to change your mind at any time during the appointment for things you may or may not want to be evaluated. It is all in your control.
The first thing I teach is some simple stretches to open up the hips in the last few weeks of pregnancy. If your hip and pelvis muscles are tight and tense it is going to be harder for the baby to drop into the pelvic canal. These are non-invasive and stretches I teach to many different clients.
If you are comfortable I will also demonstrate perineum massage on you. This is something you should do at home a few times a week starting around 34 weeks to prepare the vaginal tissues for birth. I will show your partner if they want to join the visit. I will give you some different ways you can do perineum stretching on yourself. This is to let you know what it should feel like (no pain) for when you do it at home you aren't scared of damaging something.
We can do an internal pelvic floor muscle assessment. The physical therapist will feel the pelvic floor muscles for any tightness or tension that needs to be released. We can also assess your kegel strength and your ability to bear down, or push out. When it comes to vaginal birth it doesn't matter how strong your kegels are, you need to be able to relax the muscles and push out. This is probably the most important thing we can assess and teach in order to help with vaginal birth.
We can also hook up sensors from the biofeedback machine to your pelvic floor muscles and see how your muscles respond in different birthing positions. You don't have to birth lying on your back! You can sit, squat, kneel, lie on your side, or use an array of other positions. I like to look for 2-3 positions where your pelvic floor muscles are most relaxed, which will be the easiest positions on your pelvic floor muscles during vaginal birth. I always include one recommended supported position. This means semi-reclined, lying on your back or lying on your side as some examples. Your birth plan may include using a squat bar to birth, which is great, but the reality may be that you are exhausted when it comes to the final stage of labor and I want you to have some more options of birthing positions that your body likes.
I will also give you some general guidelines for what to expect for postpartum pelvic floor healing and when to seek out pelvic floor therapy.
We can address any other pelvic floor concerns you might have during pregnancy, delivery and recovery.
If this sounds like what you are looking for go here to schedule or set up a phone call to find out more information.