The One Thing We Don’t Do After Pregnancy (That We Should)
In Europe, it's standard that women do one important thing after giving birth that women in the U.S. do not:
Receive pelvic floor therapy.
What is pelvic floor therapy? I'm glad you asked.
The pelvic floor encompasses all the muscles of the vagina, rectum, and your core, which is precisely why women can experience weakness in their pelvic floor after pregnancy. Pregnancy affects every single one of those muscles, from putting added stress on the vagina and literally separating the abdominal muscles in half.
So pelvic floor therapy is simply exercising and strengthening all of those muscles. Pelvic Floor First explains that just like any other muscle in the body, regular exercise can strengthen the pelvic floor.
Austin Area Obstetrics notes that in Europe, it is standard for every woman to receive pelvic floor therapy after she has a baby and I have to say, it really makes sense. Why wouldn't women receive such a service after carrying a human being around in their pelvis for nine months, right??
I never really understood the big deal about pelvic floor, um, strength until that is, I had an unfortunate incident involving a vicious sneeze while also jumping on my kid's trampoline with a full bladder. Yes, I fully realize that was a mistake, but still. I get it now.
And it seems like here in the States, women are revered during pregnancy, but anything that happens after that baby passes out of the uterus is sorry, lady, you're on your own.
Maternity leave? Only if you're lucky.
Physical therapy for separated ab muscles? Probably not.
Pelvic floor therapy to prevent you from peeing your pants 24/7? You'll have to move to Europe for that.
Until we all move overseas, we can still take action. First of all, be proactive and don't want until after pregnancy to take care of your pelvic floor — you hear about Kegels for a reason, so do them. (If you don't know how to do them, read this.) You can also check into your own personal insurance provider so you know what's covered postpartum, just in case.
After pregnancy, it may be helpful to do pelvic floor muscle training on your own and of course, be sure to talk to your care provider if you are experiencing any leaking. Because contrary to popular belief, having a baby doesn't have to equal a lifetime of peeing your pants.