Asking for a Friend: Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists Answer Your Questions About Pelvic Health and Pregnancy
UT Health Austin pelvic floor physical therapists answer your questions from social media
Video by: Emily Kinsolving and Alyssa Martin
Written by: Ashley Lawrence
At UT Health Austin, what matters most to you matters most to us, too! We reached out through social media and asked you to share your questions for our pelvic floor physical therapists.
In this installment of our Asking for a Friend video series, Alexandra Guevara, PT, DPT, and Charley Peterson, PT, DPT, from Women’s Health, a clinical partnership between Ascension Seton and UT Health Austin, answer your questions about pelvic health and pregnancy.
Charley Peterson: “Pregnancy and birth, whether it’s a vaginal birth or cesarean birth, put an enormous load on the body, especially the abdomen, the pelvis, and the pelvic floor muscles. For example, it can take over a year for the pelvic floor muscles to regain their strength and shape after a vaginal birth. You can really compare labor and delivery to a major sports injury, and we believe that is deserves the same care and attention as a sport injury. Everyone deserves access to pelvic health physical therapy, especially if, as you’re healing from birth, you’re noticing any issues with urinary control, bowel control, pelvic pain, or having symptoms of pressure or heaviness, or you’re just needing a little extra guidance to get back to sports or any activities that you love.”
Alexandra Guevara: “Urine leakage is common after delivery and also can be a common thing that happens as we age, but it’s not normal. We are taking a look at what kind of urine leaks might be happening, that could be something related to stress incontinence, or leaks with coughing, laughing, or sneezing, which can be a common thing that happens after giving birth. There are also other types of urinary incontinence, such as urgency, where you’re not making it on time to the restroom, and those can happen, but we’re here to help in terms of getting those muscles to work a little bit more properly, seeing if we need to add any additional exercises, or changing habits or lifestyle.
Charley Peterson: “We’re here to help you manage this and stay as active as you can throughout your pregnancy. We can also do things such as help teach perennial massage after 35 weeks, if that’s something you’re interested in doing to prepare for birth and you need a little guidance on how to do that. We can also, if you have any pre-existing issues, come up with some ways of how you might modify your strategies during labor and delivery so that you’re in positions that work well for you.”
Charley Peterson: “Common, yes. Normal, maybe not so much. Urinary urgency is when you have a very strong urge to pee that you can’t delay, and you might even have a hard time getting to the bathroom in time. It’s typically pretty treatable. There are a lot of things that can contribute to urinary urgency. The pelvic floor muscles are definitely one of them, so it’s always worthwhile to check in and see if working on your pelvic floor muscles can help with your urinary urgency.”
“We will also discuss things such as your lifestyle, your habits with your bladder, how diet can affect your bladder, and especially your bowel health. You want to keep your doctor updated, too, because things such as your blood sugar levels and blood pressure can affect your urge to pee as well as some past medical histories, such as whether you’ve previously had treatment for cancer or past surgeries around your pelvis. All of those factors combined can affect when we feel our urge to pee and how much control we have over it. It’s great to take a team approach to this, so you can get back to living your life normally without feeling you’re having to interrupt it to run to the bathroom all the time.”
Please remember that every patient is unique. You should consult with your own doctor to ensure you receive the best answers to your specific health questions.
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For more information or to schedule an appointment with Women’s Health, visit here.