Caring for your pelvic floor after childbirth

April 6, 2013 in Pelvic Floor, Post Partum

 Whether you had a vaginal birth or a c-section your pelvic floor tissues need some care after childbirth.  

No matter which way your baby came out during your birth, your pelvic floor tissues need some help readjusting back to their normal state of being.  Fascial tension patterns can be created from pulling your baby out of your belly during a c-section or having your baby pass through your vaginal canal.  These fascial tension patterns can inhibit your pelvic floor muscles from being able to contract fully and can create trigger point or tender spots in your pelvic floor tissues.  Problems in these tissues can produce issues such as painful intercourse, sacroiliac joint dysfunction or low back pains and/or incontinence or prolapse issues down the road.

One of the best ways to treat these issues is with pelvic floor massage.  By massaging and releasing your vaginal and pelvic floor tissues you can eliminate the fascial tension patterns that can be inhibiting your muscles functions allowing for a much happier state in your vaginal area.

I highly recommend learning to massage your pelvic floor area yourself and becoming familiar with the tissues of your pelvic floor.

PELVIC FLOOR/VAGINAL MASSAGE

pelvic floor sketch bnwsmall

Get into a comfortable position leaning up against the headboard of your bed with your knees slightly bent out to the side.   The bathtub, on the toilet  or in the shower are other places you can try massaging your pelvic floor.

If you were to think of your vaginal opening as a clock face (with the clock facing out between your legs) your pelvic floor muscles run from 3 o’clock ( on the left side) to 9 o’clock (on your right side).  I find using my thumbs allows for greater ease and access to working with the tissues, but you could also try your index finger.  Insert the tip of your thumb into your vagina and place it at 6 o’clock.  You are on the perineal body the area between your vaginal and anal opening.  If you tore during childbirth this area may feel restricted to downward pressure.  Try pushing down on the perineal body and see if it can move easily.  If it can’t, apply pressure and hold until you feel the tissues release.  With the tip of your thumb right at the opening move it side to side and see if you feel any tenderness or restrictions.  If so massage these tissues until they release and have good mobility without pain.  You may want to try to insert two fingers, index and middle fingers work great or two thumbs,  just into your opening and work to try spreading the tissues out to the side, kind of like ironing the tissues flat.  This is the motion of expansion that needs to happen for intercourse.

If you move your thumb in past the first knuckle you will be on your rectum. Don’t push here as if may feel uncomfortable.  Slide off the rectum to the side at either 5 or 7 o’clock depending on which thumb you are using. Using your left thumb press into the tissues from 9 to 6 o’clock.  Use your right thumb to check the tissues from 6 to 3 o’clock and see if both sides spring and move equally.  Normal tissue has a nice bounce to it, like pushing down on a trampoline.  A knot in the tissue will feel hard and have less mobility.  When you encounter a hard area allow your thumb to sink into the tissue, you are not pushing your thumb in.  Just allow it to sink into the tissue until it can’t sink in any further and just hold it there.  As you hold it there, you are waiting for it to release or “melt” under your finger.  You can try placing your other hand either on your pubic bone, your tailbone or on the same side ischium (your sit bone).  Visualize a connection between your two hands and see if the placement of your other hand helps the tissue under your thumb relax.  Your goal is to get the harder side tissue to feel the same as the other side.  You can also try to massage the pelvic floor muscles between your thumb on the inside and your fingers on the outside.  Sometime offering compression between your thumb and fingers can help the tissues to relax.

You want to feel softness in the tissues, without any pain or tenderness, and ease in movement as you push on the tissues.  As you continue to work with these tissues the tenderness and pain should subside and the mobility should increase.  If you find things aren’t getting better, the tissues that need the most help might be beyond your reach.  I encourage you to seek help from a women’s health physical therapist.    A trained practitioner should be able to help you release post birth tension patterns in your vaginal area.  For the long term health of your pelvis it really is a must!

To find a local women’s health physical therapist in your area go to www.moveforwardpt.com.

To learn about other issues you can heal after childbirth check out my What Moms Wished They Knew About their Bodies After Birth Video.  It’s full of great ways to reclaim your body and get it back to it’s pre-pregnancy state.   This is not an exercise video but educational instead.  There are certain things you need to know to best help your body heal after childbirth.