Jenny Schatzle

Brianne Grogan, DPT

Kegels, Prolapse, Bladder Leakage & More: Exploring Postpartum Pelvic Health

EPISODE: 33   |    DATE: March 11, 2021

I’m an advocate for people realizing the pelvic floor is an emotional muscle. It’s an emotional storage place. And it holds tension and anxiety just like our shoulders do.”

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Key Takeaways

  • 1 in 2 women have pain with intimacy after childbirth .
  • Up to 40% of women have sexual difficulties that may be due to pelvic health issues, and that doesn’t even have to be around childbirth. 
  • 1 in 2 women have some degree of prolapse. 
  • Oftentimes our health care providers don’t tell us about our pelvic health difficulties until it’s a significant deal, and by that point, the condition may not be helped with conerstative treatment like Physical therapy, lifestyle, education, fitness training, etc.
  • We need to be educating women about their pelvic floor from a very early age, and unfortunately, we’re not
  • The 3 ways people are doing kegels wrong: A) They are only squeezing their abs B) They are only squeezing their but muscles C) they aren’t actually releasing th muscles so they aren’t doing it properly.
  • Dr. Bri teaches a kegel bootcamp on You Tube, but she doesn’t consider kegels to be the gold standard of pelvic floor exercises.
  • Kegels can be helpful in helping people activate their core correctly, but they are just a tiny part of the solution around pelvic floor health.
  • If you have pelvic pain and pain with intercourse, kegels are not right for you.
  • Best to see a pelvic health physical therapist if you can.
  • So many of us aren’t actually breathing properly and are forgetting to breathe throughout the day. 
  • If you’re not properly moving your diaphragm by taking proper breaths, you’re likely going to have a stuck, tight pelvic floor too
  • The pelvic floor is an emotional muscle. It’s an emotional storage place.
  • A study was done that showed we hold emotional tension in our pelvic floor the same way we do in our shoulders and upper back. In fact, we may hold even more tension in our pelvic floor that we do in our shoulders and upper back.
  • So stress and anxiety can have a direct impact on our pelvic floors.
  • Pelvic floor issues are very common but unfortunately many health care providers don’t look for them until they are severe. If we caught the issues early, there are many things we can do to treat them with physical therapy and fitness, etc. to prevent future problems.
  • We go to the dentist every 6-12 months to prevent cavities and other common problems. We should be doing the same for our pelvic health because of how common these issues are.
  • For a women wanting to get pregnant or who is pregnant, Dr. Bri recommends learning how to lift and exert effort correctly. She has resources for that on her You Tube channel.
  • To lift properly, lift the pelvic floor muscles gently first. Activate them and draw in the abs. Lift as you exhale or exert. If you can get into that habit of lifting correctly before baby arrives then it can really help because it becomes part of your muscle memory and you don’t even have to think about it. It’s just the way you lift. 
  • When you’re a new mom, you’ll be doing a ton of lifting of the baby and baby equipment, so learning how to lift is key.
  • When we suck in, we create downward inter abdominal pressure that can cause pelvic health issues. This of it like a tube of toothpaste without the cap on. If we squeeze around the middle of the tube, the toothpaste will squeeze out.
  • You can develop pelvic floor issues without ever having had kids. If you’re not lifting correctly, you can develop prolapse and Dr. Bri has worked with women whose jobs have caused prolapse.
  • Pelvic health is for life, so it’s important to take care, to stand with good posture and move correctly and manage your intra abdominal pressure, etc.
  • Most women aren’t healed by the 6 week postpartum check up. How long it actually takes for the tissues to heal is completely dependent on each person’s bio individuality.
  • When it comes to how you feel, be your own advocate. Ask yourself if things feel normal or if things feel off, and if they feel off, go and seek out a specialist who can help you even if your healthcare provider tells you everything looks normal. If you feel like something is off, you’re probably right. And even if you’re not, it cannot hurt to get help to confirm your suspicions one way or the other.
  • How long it takes to heal postpartum and what conditions may develop also depends on your delivery. For example, forceps delivery are the most common kind of delivery that can produce prolapse, followed by a vaginal delivery, followed by a c section.
  • When it comes to postpartum movement, just make sure you choose a program (fitness or otherwise) that is pelvic health friendly and says so.
  • There are cases when prolapse is so severe that it requires surgery. There are different grades of prolapse: 1, 2, 3, 4. 3 and 4 being the most severe where your organs are actually bulging outside of your body.
  • For conservative treatment for prolapse you can look into a device like a pessory – support device that you can insert vaginally that keeps everything in place and you can strengthen the muscles around it.
  • If you have a grade 1 or 2 prolapse, try conservative treatment before opting for surgery right away, because often there is a lot you can do to help.
  • Even if you eventually end up needing surgery, conservative treatment will help you build strength so that going into the surgery, you may have a better outcome aftward.
  • If you’re having trouble holding in your pee and your toots after having many children, you’re most likely having a pelvic floor issue. But you may also be having some gut issues. Gut health is very tied into pelvic health, so it’s important to look at both.
  • After giving birth, your muscles and your tissues are all stretched out, so it’s possible that your vagina may change size. You can strengthen the muscles around the vagina to help bring it back to “normal” or at least what feels normal and good to you.
  • Scar tissues can be a huge issue and should be addressed.

About Dr. Bri

With over 16 million views (and counting) on YouTube, articles featured on MindBodyGreen, DailyOM, and parents.com, and a 5-star reviewed podcast and book, Brianne Grogan is a leading voice in the field of health and wellness. She is loved by her viewers for her down-to-earth, compassionate approach and for making pelvic floor fitness fun, mainstream, and accessible.

Bri graduated as a Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2006 from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Inspired by her own pregnancy and postpartum experiences, she specialized in pelvic health PT.

Today, Dr. Bri teaches and shares her FemFusion philosophy via her YouTube channel, podcast, and online courses. She is the author of Lady Bits: Understand Your Body, Elevate Your Health, and Reclaim Your Spark Naturally, a yoga teacher, and a passionate (although messy) home cook. Her most sacred roles: wife, mom, and lifelong learner.

CONTACT INFO:

Website: https://www.femfusionfitness.com/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/femfusionfitness/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/femfusionfitness/ 

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8P8jYUnqtkxbTdJ2_xwWuQ 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/femfusion/_created/ 

Resources mentioned in this episode

Dr. Bri’s Kegel Camp on You Tube

Dr. Bri’s book: Lady Bits: Understand your Body, Elevate Your Health and Reclaim Your Spark Naturally.

Dr. Bri’s Podcast: Dr. Bri Talks Lady Bits

Information on using a pessary for prolapse

Lift – Dr. Bri’s prolapse program – use code THEMOMFEED for 15% off!

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