Strengthening My Pelvic Floor

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Like most women who are fortunate enough to carry babies, my body was definitely not the same as it was prior to popping out my two little cherubs. My postpartum mom bod included sagging and squishy parts that were par for the course. But internally things hadn’t gone back to normal either. 

The “Back” Story

About four months after having my daughter in August 2019 I started having extreme low back pain. Every time I would sit down or stand up I had to clench my teeth. The closest way to describe it was like early back labor. It was awful. After a few weeks, it had passed. Over the next few months, I noticed that the back pain would come as part of my normal PMS symptoms and stay until I finished my period. It hurt so bad. I started sitting with pillows behind me at home.

I went to my primary doctor in February 2020 and she was also concerned. An x-ray revealed that there wasn’t anything cracked or broken. What a relief! My doctor thought that as my hips and lower body returned to normal things simply didn’t fit back together as they should have. She scheduled me to have pelvic floor physical therapy. 

Waiting for Relief

Due to COVID, I was unable to get into the physical therapist until July. My back kept getting worse. I just had to wait it out. My initial assessment was with a gynecologist who specializes in pelvic floor issues (not my usual OBGYN). After pressing on different spots on my stomach and conducting an internal exam she told me what she thought. It was determined that I had an extremely weak pelvic floor and my back was compensating for it. She had me start physical therapy the following week.

The first therapy session was simply to determine my baseline. The physical therapist asked all sorts of questions about my bodily functions and asked me to do simple movements like walking and touching my toes. On the internal exam, she found that some of my muscles were spasming. She said that this could be why I had to pee 22 times a day. No lie, she had me track how many times I peed for a few days.

Unfortunately through this log, I learned that coffee and wine tended to trigger me to use the restroom more urgently, so I did my best to cut back. Obviously, eliminating them was off the table. I started making sure that if I planned to have wine in the evening I limited myself to one cup of coffee in the morning. I also made sure not to drink the wine too late so I’d avoid frequent night trips to the bathroom.

Game Changer

Over the next twelve weeks, I ventured to Flower Hospital in Sylvania and met with my physical therapist. She manually worked on helping me learn to control my pelvic floor beyond just basic kegel exercises. I learned how to “turn on and turn off” the muscles that were causing the spasms. I also learned new core and back exercises to strengthen that area of my body. My therapist told me to use a lacrosse ball on the wall and use my back to slide up and down on it. Game changer. It works so much better than a tennis ball and helps to work out some of my trigger points!

Upon completion of physical therapy, I feel much better. I’ll occasionally get a sore lower back, but I feel like that’s par for the course. I’d highly recommend any mamas seek out a pelvic floor therapist if things aren’t right down there, perhaps there may be something more going on. It’s worth it to seek out a professional opinion and get recommendations that could offer some relief.

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Julia Whalen
Julia resides in Perrysburg with her husband, their two children (Ari, 4 and Annie,1), and two cats (Godric and Cali). Her children are the most amazing, funny, lovable, and crazy little humans she’s ever met. Julia moved here from the Cleveland area right after college. Some of her favorite things about living in NW Ohio are being able to do legal U-Turns and going over 25 mph on a main road. When she is not fulfilling her Ravenclaw dreams of working as a STEM teacher or momming, Julia is most likely rewatching The Office or rereading Harry Potter for the billionth time. Her favorite places are Target, Starbucks, and Disney World. Feel free to follow on Instagram @jwhalen1

1 COMMENT

  1. Julia–thanks so much for this! I’ve subscribed to one of the online pelvic floor programs, but if my issues aren’t noticeably better in a few months, I may be contacting you for a recommendation on your pelvic floor specialist! I was curious what the difference between these “kegel courses” and one-on-one appointments with a professional would be like. Thanks to your article, I’ve got a better idea!

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