We’ve partnered with Perifit, a kegel exerciser that’s highly-regarded as one of the best at-home devices for mamas navigating pelvic floor concerns like prolapse and urinary incontinence. Perifit’s pelvic floor exercises are designed by pelvic floor rehabilitation experts. Leading physiotherapists and OBGYNs recommend Perifit for their clients who are navigating specific pelvic floor concerns. By using the product for 5-minutes a day you can notice improvements in under 2 weeks! Read more about postpartum pelvic floor concerns in the article below to see if Perifit can help accelerate your postpartum recovery.
“Is this normal?”
That’s a question we hear from many mamas in our community after they’ve had their baby. Their list of concerns ranges from mood swings and brain fog all the way down, literally, to what’s going on with their core and pelvic floor. What’s tricky is it can be hard to determine the difference between “common” and “normal” when every website, mama friend and professional is giving you conflicting advice. Let’s sort through the confusion together, mama, so you can get the help and credible answers you deserve.
What’s “common” vs. “worth considering”?
- Some discomfort during sex immediately after having baby that improves over time
- Feeling initially weaker in your core which improves over time and after focusing on strengthening exercises
- Less definition in your stomach and possibly a flatter butt (ugh)
Worth considering seeing someone:
- Leaking of urine, fecal matter, gas when you cough, sneeze, exercise
- Bulging or heaviness in your pelvic region that hasn’t improved
- Bladder urgency or pain
- Pelvic, hip, tailbone, or back pain
- Diastasis recti, that isn’t improving or isn’t functional
- Not feeling like you can return to exercise because of weakness or other symptoms
When should I see someone?
Short answer: It depends! You can see someone as early as 2-3 weeks postpartum for education on the best breastfeeding positions, early exercises, or other specific concerns, but 6 weeks postpartum is when most insurance companies will start covering PT.
We agree with ACOG’s new revamped guidelines stating that “postpartum care should be an ongoing process, rather than a single encounter and that all women have contact with their OBGYNs or other obstetric care providers (including PT’s) within the first three weeks postpartum.”
In other words, don’t let the 6-week “standard” timeline stop you from getting help earlier if you’re struggling.
How do I find someone who can help?
If you’re experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed above, it’s worth reaching out to your provider to get a referral to a pelvic floor therapist. Look for someone trained in pregnancy/postpartum concerns if that’s available to you. If your provider isn’t sure about options near you or you wish to reach out to a pelvic floor therapist directly, there are a few ways to search for qualified pelvic floor physical therapists.
- Websites like PelvicGuru Directory and the American Physical Therapy Association Specialists
- Social media and other mamas: Ask mamas in your local community who they’ve used or join a pelvic floor physical therapy Facebook group and ask for options near you.
- Local Birth Network: some cities have a local birth network that provides a list of professionals who specialize in therapies like pelvic floor PT
- Telehealth: Don’t have anyone local to you who specializes in it or have a hard time leaving the house? Some insurance companies are starting to cover telehealth-based PT options which may be more manageable to you. A basic Google search can help you find someone that will work with you.
I’m nervous about the first appointment, what can I expect?
We get that it can be nerve-wracking talking about and working on intimate areas of your body with a stranger. Remember, mama, you are in control! You ALWAYS have the option of telling your provider to stop or slow down. You can always leave if you don’t feel safe. Pelvic floor PTs really understand how uncomfortable this experience can be. They do an amazing job of helping you feel safe. To help you feel more prepared here’s what you can generally expect, although note that all providers practice a little differently. The following visit notes come from Taryn Kilty, PT, DPT.
What to expect:
- The physical therapist will ask A LOT of questions via a written questionnaire and in person to get an idea of what your symptoms are, what eases or exacerbates them, and what the severity is.
- They’ll get to know your history and get a better understanding of what your pregnancy (or pregnancies) and labor and delivery (deliveries) were like. These questions will help guide the assessment.
- The therapist will look at the whole picture. They may look at other areas of your body to rule in/out contributing factors.
- They’ll test your joint range of motion, muscle strength, movement, and possibly do a neurological screening.
- They may do an internal assessment of your pelvic floor. This is always up to you, the patient. Remember that you are in control.
- If you agree to an internal assessment, you are draped for privacy, gloves are worn, and consent is received. They’ll look at the external structures first. Your provider will ask you to contract/relax your pelvic floor as well as cough or bear down to see how your pelvic floor is functioning. The PT will then use one, gloved finger to gently assess the pelvic floor. They will again give you cues to contract, relax and cough. They may feel for tender places within your muscles.
- You’ll get dressed and discuss the findings with your provider to determine a treatment plan that is right for you.
Can at-home pelvic floor kegel exercises like Perifit work to help strengthen my pelvic floor?
As noted above, your pelvic floor therapist will help you determine a treatment plan that is right for you. Many therapists we’ve talked to are in favor of biofeedback devices like Perifit if it’s determined that you have a weak pelvic floor. You can use these devices in between appointments. Share your results with your provider to further customize your treatment plan.
Perifit is our favorite brand since it includes two sensors (one for the superficial muscles and one for deeper muscles) to give you a comprehensive understanding of the strength of both your pelvic floor layers. It uses biofeedback to give you instant information on your ability to contract and relax your pelvic floor on cue. Using it regularly can speed up recovery time and help you start learning about your body from the comfort of your own home, when it best fits into your schedule.
From Steph: The apps and games are actually a lot of fun and are super motivating. I wasn’t expecting it to be addicting, but I love seeing progress and getting to unlock new games! I love the satisfaction of moving up a level in the program and seeing the points build each week! The cool thing is you only need to use the device for 5 minutes a day. I’ve personally seen improvements in my ability to contract and relax my pelvic floor muscles after two weeks. After having 2, 8+ lb babies and carrying them both past my due date, I’m really excited about regaining my strength and this intimate connection with my body. It’s not just about making sure I’m safeguarding myself from leaks and prolapse. It’s also helpful for improving things in the bedroom! Just saying…
How many visits do I need to see progress and how do I know if I’m improving?
You and/or your pelvic floor therapist will be able to monitor progress by assessing what your symptoms were before treatment and how they’re improving after treatment. This is why a baseline is important. It’s something you’ll get at your first appointment with your pelvic floor PT and is something that will be assessed via biofeedback devices like Perifit. Sometimes it takes just a few weeks to notice significant improvements. Your pelvic floor therapist can then switch you to an at-home independent program. Other times, especially if there’s pelvic pain, treatment can be more complex and take a few months. On average, give yourself 6-8 weeks if seeing a provider once a week. Again, you may be able to speed this up by using products like Perifit if your PT approves it for your treatment plan.
Next week, Taryn Kilty, PT, DPT who specializes in pelvic floor physical therapy will be breaking down some common myths regarding pelvic floor health and answering some common questions she gets from her clients about pelvic floor therapy so if you’re interested in more on this topic, stay tuned!
This post is sponsored by Perifit, and all opinions are our own. We only recommend products and services that we know or trust to be of high quality, whether a sponsored relationship is in place or not.