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Pelvic Floor Health for New Moms

What is the Pelvic Floor?      Changes After a Baby  

Is This the New Normal for Your Pelvic Floor?

What Changes Will Go Away and When?      Returning to Physical Activity

What is the Pelvic Floor?

Changes After a Baby

Is This the New Normal for Your Pelvic Floor?

Just as every pregnancy is different, so is recovery. Length of recovery can vary from woman to woman and from birth to birth. The pelvic floor is dynamic and it is amazing how it can change during pregnancy and childbirth. As a result, some women may experience urinary leakage, pelvic pain, healing following a tear, vaginal bulge, or bowel problems (constipation or leakage) following childbirth.

What Changes Will Go Away and When?

In a study of women following childbirth, the following occurred:

  • Vaginal bulge - 3 out of 4 women who experience bulge symptoms  8 weeks after delivery will no longer feel a bulge at 1 year.
  • Urinary incontinence – urine leakage related to coughing & sneezing may still persist at 1 year. The good news is that this can be improved with pelvic floor physical therapy specific for women or by using a device that is placed inside the vagina (a pessary). This should be something you bring up with your clinician at your 6 week postpartum visit.
  • Constipation improves in over 50% of women by 1 year following childbirth.

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Returning to Physical Activity

When can you return to exercise? It is different for women who had a vaginal or Cesarean childbirth. Be sure to ask your clinician* before increasing your exercise. All women can start pelvic floor exercises soon after childbirth. That may help your pelvic floor heal.

*Clinicians include: doctors, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pelvic floor physical therapists

It is common for women to become less fit during pregnancy. You should not expect a quick return to the level of fitness that you had before you had your baby. Women who had a vaginal childbirth can slowly increase exercise around 6 weeks postpartum, but fitness improvements will vary. The belly muscles stretch a lot. It may take 6 months or longer to reach previous belly strength and function. Yet, there are many benefits for improving your fitness. Remember patience is key!

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