Jenny Schatzle

Dr. Christine Pieton, PT, DPT

Addressing Pelvic Floor Health & A Safe Return to Postpartum Fitness Without Pain, Leaking or Limitations #strongasamother

EPISODE: 14   |    DATE: October 29, 2020

Just because something is common doesn’t mean it’s automatically normal or that it needs to be your new normal forever.

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Key Takeaways

  • Movement is medicine and your physical therapy care should be collaborative – you working together with your physical therapist.
  • In a perfect world, every woman would work with a pelvic health physical therapist even before she gets pregnant, and she would absolutely benefit from having one on her care team in the first 6-12 weeks postpartum. 
  • Dr. Christine’s passion is helping women return to fitness.
  • Every mom should consider herself to be an athlete, even if she doesn’t think she is on account of all the lifting, squatting and general moves it takes to care for her child/children. 
  • Pelvic health is sport health. And sport health is pelvic health. The two go hand in hand.
  • Peeing yourself, lower back pain, knee pain, hip pain, and so much more are signs that there is dysfunction in the body that needs to be addressed. You can get better with help from a pelvic health physical therapist. 
  • Both men and women have a pelvic floor. They are slightly different but it’s the foundation of your core stability system. It’s not discussed in school to become a physical therapist unless and until a physical therapist decides to do post graduate work in that area. 
  • The pelvic floor is literally the muscular foundation of the entire body.
  • Just telling women to “just listen to your body” and to “do what you did for exercise before you got pregnant,” does women a huge disservice because it’s too vague. It’s also assuming that what she was doing before pregnancy was ok for her. Further still, it doesn’t take into account the huge hormonal and physical change her postpartum body has gone through. It’s unfair. It puts the burden back on the woman without giving her good tools to assess what is ok for her.
  • Postpartum care shouldn’t just be centered around the baby. Mom – as the person supporting the baby – should have her needs addressed as well. 
  • Just because something is common (like leaking after having a baby) doesn’t mean it’s normal and/or that it needs to be the new normal forever.
  • In theory, women are given the OK to have sex again at the 6 week postpartum check up, but their tissues aren’t actually healed fully before 4-6 months! In Dr. Christine’s opinion, the only thing the 6 week postpartum check up should indicate is the all clear that the stitches have healed and to give the ok to go see your pelvic floor PT to continue working to return to fitness/life.
  • Indeed, some women do heal faster than 4-6 months, but Dr. Christine wants everyone to know that they are outliers on the bell curve.
  • There are 4 core muscles that make up the core muscles in the torso: 1) The abdominal muscles, 2) The spine muscles, 3) The diaphragm, and 4) The pelvic floor. 
  • Strengthening and coordinating the entire core system – all 4 team members – is key. This is why just doing kegels isn’t the answer. It isolates only 1 of the 4 team members, rather than making them coordinate to move together.
  • Most women don’t really know what the pelvic floor is or what it does when they head into pregnancy or delivery. 
  • Breathing into our pelvic floor during our work with a PT can cause a lot of emotions to come up. Dr. Christine’s theory around this is that much of our trauma is stored in the pelvic floor, and in breathing into it, that trauma is released to be felt. She also believes when we breathe int our pelvic floor we are breathing in our nervous system which has been stuck in fight or flight mode. As we breathe into our pelvic floor, we breathe deeper into the parasympathetic nervous system, bypassing the fight or flight and causing us to let our guard down. 
  • Dr. Chrsitine believes wholeheartedly that the term “bouncing back” should be erased from the narrative when it comes to women’s bodies after having babies. She wants it to be replaced with “strong as a mother.”
  • The term “bouncing back” doesn’t honor what a mother has gone through to grow and birth a baby, and suggests she should aspire to get her pre-baby body back. But her body isn’t the same anymore. It grew and birthed a baby! 
  • “Bouncing back” minimizes all of the emotional and physical strength a woman has gone through, and it feeds into postpartum mood disorders as women who don’t “bounce back” ask themselves where they failed instead of focusing on where they succeeded.
  • We need to assess women and her postpartum bodies from the inside out. Dr. Christine has seen many patients who look completely fine on the outside but who are dealing with some dysfunction on the inside. It needs to be a whole body approach.
  • Honor yourself, mama! You are a superhero, you are an athlete, and you deserve the right support!

About Dr. Christine

Dr. Christine Pieton, PT, DPT is a sport and women’s pelvic health physical therapist who specializes in running mechanics and postpartum return-to-sport recovery. She is passionate about helping her clients feel strong and confident from the inside out, without pain, leaking or limitations. Dr. Chris truly believes all women deserve better guidance for their prenatal and postpartum journeys, and is on a mission to change the conversation from “I wish someone had told me” to “I’m so glad I knew…”. Dr. Christine is the owner and founder of Pieton Physical Therapy in Santa Barbara, CA. 


Instagram: PietonPT 

You Tube: PietonPT

Facebook Group: Mama Runs Wild


Resources in this episode

Our mutual friend and health coach, Melissa Costello of Karma Chow

International resource to find a pelvic floor PT in your area:

Dr. Christine’s post about being strong as a mother: @PietonPT

Thank you so much for listening!

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And remember, mama you’re doing GREAT!