Childbirth is a life altering experience for most people and one that can leave you a changed woman, both physically and emotionally. Whether you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery or an unexpected cesarean delivery, both can leave you with scars that you weren’t prepared to manage. Healing and scarring can vary significantly between individuals, and the same person can also have different types of scarring. For some people, their scar tissue remains very mobile and they are unlikely to have pain or issues associated with it. However, others may develop keloid scars or their scar tissue may become granulated, lumpy, and get “stuck” in place. For many women this can be contributor to pain and discomfort.
Research has shown that perineal trauma sustained during childbirth can have impacts on sexual function, urinary and bowel continence, and pelvic pain. Are you experiencing back pain or pelvic pain, difficulty or pain with intercourse (dyspareunia), urinary or fecal incontinence (leakage), or pain with exercise? Your perineal scar may be contributing to these impairments. But fear not, there are things that can be done.
The first step is having a conversation with your trusted provider. Together you can come up with treatment options that may work for you. One of the options you may be provided with is physical therapy. Most people think about going to physical therapy after an injury or a surgery, not after having a baby. But guess what? Childbirth is a big event for your body to go through, and your pelvic floor and perineum are groups of muscles and tissues that have the same capacity for rehabilitation, as you would expect after a knee or shoulder injury. Research has shown that physical therapy is a safe and effective treatment choice for the management of perineal pain, urinary and fecal incontinence, dyspareunia, and return to fitness after childbirth.
So now that you know there are options to help treat your pain, you may be wondering what physical therapy would look like. Treatment always begins with an initial evaluation, which will include a detailed history and a comprehensive evaluation that will look at posture, strength, and joint mobility. The pelvic floor muscles are located INSIDE our bodies, so appropriate assessment of these muscles could include intravaginal assessment for muscle strength, trigger points, and tissue and scar mobility. Once the assessment is complete, together we will develop an individualized treatment plan and outline goals.
We would love to talk to you about it in person. At One Family Community Birth Center we can provide a referral for physical therapy with Joanna Austin PT, DPT, OCS at A Joint Effort Physical Therapy.