I heard that France gives women 8 visits with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist after the birth of their babies to help women maintain a healthy pelvic floor. This is an incredible concept to me since most women see their OB/GYNs six weeks after their baby which may not be a good indicator of whether or not a women’s pelvic floor or core have returned to their normal and optimal tone. It took me having 3 babies and reading the article about French women to learn what a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist.
I was introduced to my Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, Jody, via a referral from my doctor. I was just happy she was 7 minutes from my house. I knew my visit would require a pretty personal exam. Jody is young, energetic and very passionate about her work. She also isn’t a mother. It was very humbling to say the least to have her exam my thrice birth given 41 year old lady parts. Jody took me to a private room, away from the larger exercise room where other PTs work on hips, shoulders, and knee rehabs. We needed more privacy.
After a series of questions, Jody left the room instructing me to remove my pants and underwear, cover myself with a sheet and wait for her to return. When she did return, she gloved up her hand and told me she was going to test the strength of my pelvic floor through a series of exercises. I’m pretty sure you can picture the rest. When I released she said, “Hmmmmm. Ok, let’s try that again” in a voice that made it clear it really wasn’t okay. She had me perform a few other isolated contractions and also examined my abdomen.
We worked a lot on breathing and learned quickly that my pelvic floor was weak, but my core was over engaged. This was not an ideal or healthy way for my muscles to go on. She diagnosed me with stress incontinence and promised me she could help me. I was prescribed some series of breathing exercises (Yeah! Yoga!), an amazing non yoga like bridge pose to work on my transverse abdominal muscles, and a lot of outer hip and glute strengthening. We also made a series of weekly appointments for the next few months.
So, this type of personal exam is not for everyone. But, I cannot emphasize it enough. Really. If you can get past the gloved fingers and the physical therapy assistants coaching you to kegel before you jump off a box, it might just change your life.