By Casey Newman
Pelvic floor physical therapy during pregnancy can not only help relieve your pain, it can help you move better, may make your labor and delivery easier and help you sleep better.
“We’re going to help with alignment and posture, which actually helps to keep baby in optimal positions to allow for easier delivery,” says Dr. Susan Facemire, a pelvic floor and women’s health specialist in Green. “It may reduce the risk of c-section. It also helps when we’re looking at developing an exercise program for maintaining strength and reducing loss of bone density loss with pregnancy. It can help decrease blood pressure related to pregnancy and it may help decrease the risk for gestational diabetes.”
But, you don’t have to wait until you’re heavily pregnant to take advantage of therapy, she notes.
“If you’re newly pregnant and you want to try to start doing more for your body, that is also a perfect time to reach out to somebody who has a little bit more of a specialization because I can help look for these things,” she pointed out. “You don’t have to come see me three days a week to do exercises, but check in and see how you’re feeling and correct any imbalances.”
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Physical therapy can also help ensure the muscles used for giving birth are elastic and strong and a pelvic floor physical therapist can educate you on the birthing positions that can be beneficial for you.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help:
- Relieve pelvic, low back or tailbone pain
- With difficulty emptying your bladder or bowels
- With urinary leakage or fecal incontinence
- Relieve painful sex
“If you’re looking for something to help guide you through your pregnancy, to have a general better well-being, and reduce that risk of developing some of those musculoskeletal issues, we can help monitor that in real-time versus waiting until you have an issue,” Dr. Facemire said.
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Let’s talk about incontinence for a second. If there’s one thing I hear from pregnant friends — and that I have experienced as well — it’s the peeing. Not only are you peeing more frequently, but you might also find that now that you’re pregnant (or once you’ve had your children — even years after) that you seem to leak urine. This could happen when you sneeze, cough, laugh, exercise or you may notice that you’re not as able to hold your urine like you once were.
“You can have stress incontinence — that’s when coughs, knees jump, any kind of exertion causes you to leak small, medium, large amounts of urine. Then there’s urgency incontinence where you get that urge and you can’t hold it to get to the bathroom,” Dr. Facemire explains. “No amount of leaking is normal, period. So if you’re having leakage, it’s usually some kind of strength issue, but also a just pressure imbalance in the system. And that again relates back to it’s not just the pelvic floor. That’s why Kegels don’t work.”
So, how long does it take to see benefits from therapy? Dr. Facemire notes that everyone who comes to see her receives individualized treatment and depending on the issues being treated, treatment times can vary.
Dr.Facemire is working on becoming a prenatal and postpartum coach, which would allow her to be more proactive in the care of pregnant people. She also offers in-home physical therapy services in the Akron area.
Casey Newman is a mother of two from Green who depends on wine to get her through bathtime and bedtime. She is a maternal and women’s health advocate who volunteers with several birth and maternal rights organizations and has spoken to Congress members about issues affecting moms.