The Third Trimester: Why Bother With Pelvic Therapy?
The nursery is ready. The virtual baby shower is scheduled. The birth plan is nearly finished. You’ve chosen your doula and a baby name (maybe). You’ve mostly survived your pregnancy, but you never made it to pelvic therapy like all your mom friends suggested. You put it off and now it’s too late, or is it? Pelvic Therapy can be invaluable in any stage of pregnancy, especially in your third trimester.
Tackle Pregnancy Aches and Pains. Don’t Just Tolerate Them. Remember the little aches and pains that have nagged you for months? Don’t ignore what your body is telling you. Most of these conditions are very treatable by the right therapist. Sometimes these conditions can worsen as your body prepares for childbirth. The right targeted, simple exercises do the trick most of the time. Other times belts or taping may be necessary to get you through the last few weeks of pregnancy. Your therapist can also help with achieving proper alignment, achieving body balance or offering pain-relieving modalities - not to mention those manual techniques that make you go ooh and ahh. Having a skilled pelvic therapist on board can help you ease into childbirth rather than limp into it.
Find Your Pelvic Floor. There is one thing I ask all of my expecting clients in their last trimester. Can you relax or push down your pelvic floor? Nine times out of ten, my request is followed by a very confused face and then a hint of panic when they realize they are weeks from delivering a baby and they have no idea how to do what I just asked them to do. And that’s where my childbirth coaching begins. A skilled pelvic therapist can be an invaluable childbirth coach helping you identify the perineum and pelvic floor, improve your pelvic floor coordination and control1, learn breathing techniques to maximize your efforts during labor and delivery2, learn birthing positions that optimize your pelvic function, and teach you techniques like perineal massage to prepare your body for the task ahead3.
Jump Start Your Recovery. Your pelvic therapist can give you exercises gentle enough to resume once you feel up to it after the baby is born. With the right targeted, gentle exercises, you should be able to jump right into core recovery. Clients who have gone through my prenatal program have a quicker recovery time and return to activity faster. Many of them return shortly after their six-week postpartum visit for a PF and abdominal check-up and refresher. We resume and progress the work they started prenatally and address any new symptoms such as leakage or scarring. After a few weeks, most are easing into their activity of choice shortly safely and with confidence in their bodies.
As the climate surrounding Women’s Health rightfully shifts to put more of the spotlight on birthing person’s and the health of their body and less on the baby itself, the list of birth support people has grown to include more than just her partners and her OB. It’s crucial that women have a skilled pelvic therapist as part of their comprehensive prenatal, childbirth and postpartum team.
1 Effects of pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy
2 Influence of a pelvic floor training programme to prevent perineal trauma: A quasi-randomised controlled trial
3 Antenatal Perineal Massage Improves Women's Experience of Childbirth and Postpartum Recovery: A Review to Facilitate Provider