Did you know that in Europe, pelvic floor therapy is standard care for all postpartum moms? Once you learn more about pelvic floor therapy you’ll want to find a PT near you to help support your body during and after your pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or you are postpartum, then this simple guide to pelvic floor therapy is for you.
In this blog post, we’ll cover:
- What is pelvic floor therapy?
- What does pelvic floor therapy help with?
- How do I know if I need pelvic floor therapy?
- What should I expect at my first pelvic floor physical therapy?
- What happens during a pelvic floor exam?
- How much does pelvic floor therapy cost?
- How long does pelvic floor physical therapy take?
- What do you wear to pelvic floor therapy?
- How do I choose a pelvic physical therapist?
- Instagram Accounts of Pelvic Floor Therapists
Like many women, I thought that peeing a little when I sneezed was a normal postpartum thing that just happens. It wasn’t until I learned about pelvic floor physical therapy that I realized it was not normal.
I’ve been seeing a pelvic floor therapist as a way to prepare my body for labor and it has been so helpful! I want every woman to seek a PT if they are dealing with any pelvic floor issues.
In this post, I will be talking about what is pelvic floor therapy and what to expect based on my experience.
What is pelvic floor therapy?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is targeted to relieve pain, weakness and dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor is like a hammock of muscles that runs between the pubic bone and the tailbone. The pelvic floor has 5 important functions:
- supporting the pelvic organs
- supporting bladder and bowel control
- sexual function and pleasure
- provides posture control and ligament stability
- acts as a blood and lymphatic fluid pump for the pelvis
What does pelvic floor therapy help with?
Below is a list of symptoms a pelvic floor therapist can help with:
- pregnancy related pain or discomfort
- pelvic pain during or after pregnancy
- pelvic floor injury after delivery
- diastasis recti (gap between right and left abdominal wall muscles)
- c-section scar pain or discomfort
- urinary incontinence – when you accidentally pee while coughing, sneezing, laughing or working out
- frequent need to urinate
- pelvic organ prolapse
- low back, hip or groin pain
- tailbone pain
- pain with intercourse
How do I know if I need pelvic floor therapy?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above then you should see a pelvic floor therapist.
Please know that pelvic floor dysfunction is very common but not normal. Also, many women are not aware that there is treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction.
Here are some statistics:
- 25% of women report having 1 or more pelvic floor disorders according to a 2014 National Institute of Health study .
- Only about 50% of women suffering from incontinence have talked to their physician about it. Many women rely on limiting fluids and physical activity to hide their incontinence issues .
- In a 2020 survey of 255 postpartum mothers, about 67% reported not knowing about pelvic floor rehabilitation treat their pelvic floor dysfunction .
What should I expect at my first pelvic floor physical therapy?
A physical therapy session consists of the following: discussing your medical history, doing a physical exam, and practicing pelvic floor exercises.
I will be discussing my experience at Lady Bits Physical Therapy . This should be similar to what you will experience during your physical therapy session. When you are looking for a physical therapist, you can ask them to give you a short summary of what their appointments are like prior to making an appointment.
First we chatted about my medical history. We discussed:
- my pregnancy experience
- birth experience
- if there had been any trauma to the pelvis
- pain levels during intercourse
- where and at what times I experienced pain
- concerns and any questions I had
Secondly, my physical therapist explained what the pelvic floor was and why I was experiencing discomfort in my pelvic floor using models and pictures. Then, she went ahead and explained what we were going to do during the exam.
I loved the fact that the PT took the time to educate me on my pelvic floor and explained the treatment prior to getting started. This helped me calm my nerves and feel confident on my decision to seek help.
During the exam, my PT provided manual therapy to realign my pelvis. An internal exam was not safe/possible since I was pregnant.
What happens during a pelvic floor exam?
From my research, an internal exam can consist of the following:
- the therapist will start with observing you perform a Kegel, cough, and bearing down
- they might feel for any tight spots in the pelvic floor muscles externally
- if you agree, the therapist will use their finger to assess the muscles internally
Finally, towards the end of the session, we practiced 5 different pelvic floor exercises that I have to do at home to improve my muscle strength.
How much does pelvic floor therapy cost?
The cost of pelvic floor physical therapy is about $225 for the first consultation and $180 for each 45 minute session after that. Cost will depend on factors like your location and if your PT takes insurance.
How long does pelvic floor treatment take?
The treatment will vary from patient to patient and depends on different factors like the diagnosis and how well you stick to the treatment plan. The average is 3-8 visits (often less) for the physical therapy place I go to.
What do you wear to pelvic floor therapy?
Wear loose and comfortable clothing that you can work out in. You can wear thin flexible pants (eg. yoga pants) or shorts.
How do I choose a pelvic physical therapist?
Here are the things that you should look out for when choosing a therapist:
- You should make sure that the therapist specializes in the pelvic floor
- Therapist should have 3 or more years of experience
- Check how long the appointment is with the therapist. Appointments should be around 45 minutes or more to address your concerns. (my first appointment was about 90 minutes and 60 minutes for follow up appointments)
- Check out this great article, for more things to consider when choosing a therapist.
Instagram Accounts of Pelvic Floor Therapists
If you want a fun way to learn more about the pelvic floor, you should definitely follow these physical therapist accounts on instagram:
Now that you know what pelvic floor therapy is, you are on your way to find the help you need to:
- help you prepare for labor
- treat pregnancy/postpartum related pain
- treat incontinence
- and so much more
If you would like to learn more about what else I am doing to prepare my body for labor, check out my blog post.
Finally, I would love for you to follow along my journey of becoming a mom of two under two by subscribing to my newsletter.
 Diokno AC, Burgio K, Fultz NH, Kinchen KS, Obenchain R, Bump RC. Medical and self-care practices reported by women with urinary incontinence. Am J Manag Care. 2004 Feb;10(2 Pt 1):69-78. PMID: 15011807.
 Burkhart, Rebecca, et al. “Pelvic Floor Dysfunction After Childbirth: Occupational Impact and Awareness of Available Treatment.” OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, vol. 41, no. 2, Apr. 2021, pp. 108–115.