Pelvic floor challenges are very common in the postpartum period. Your pelvic floor muscles weaken from the pressure of your growing uterus and baby in pregnancy as well as the pressure and tearing from vaginal delivery (or cesarean after an attempted vaginal delivery). Just because these issues are common doesn't mean you have to live with them. You can restrengthen your pelvic floor through targeted exercises.
Why does it happen? Urinary incontinence that pregnant or new moms experience happens when pressure on the bladder sphincter (a muscular valve in the bladder controlling urine flow) causes leakage. This typically happens because pelvic floor muscles, which control the bladder, weaken during pregnancy as they support the weight of the growing uterus.
How do I know? If you pee a bit when coughing, laughing, sneezing, moving suddenly, or even standing up – that’s incontinence.
What can I do? Generally, the key is to strengthen your pelvic floor. Do Kegel exercises consistently and correctly and work with a pelvic floor physical therapist, who can help you identify weaknesses and teach you exercises beyond Kegels to rebuild strength.
Why does it happen? Diastasis recti is a common condition 60% of childbearing women. It occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles (6-pack abs) separate during pregnancy from being stretched to accommodate your growing baby.
How do I know? A common sign is a stubborn bulge or "doming" above or below the belly button. Incontinence, back pain, or pelvic pain can also be signs.
What can I do? Physical therapy and deep core exercises (think inclined planks, wall sits, and other stability exercises, not crunches, bicycles, or anything that causes your abdomen to bulge outward) can help you regain abdominal strength and reduce diastasis recti over time.
Urinary or fecal incontinence
Low back pain
Feelings of vaginal "heaviness"