I recently started seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist. I hesitated for weeks and finally made my first appointment. As a pilates instructor, I was ashamed to admit that I leak urine when I do jumping jacks or cough or sneeze unexpectedly. The first 3 months postpartum the leaking happened a lot. I had to wear poise pads out in public. As I gathered more hours of sleep and a little more time to myself, I was able to dedicate at an hour a week to pilates. Then the leaking stopped. YES! Pilates is working and I'm back to having a functioning pelvic floor. Then I weaned my daughter. Over the holidays, I got sick and I had allergies to boot. I was sneezing and coughing and wetting my pants again. I felt so disappointed in my body. I knew that I had to see a pelvic floor professional.
After a ton of research on who to go to, I chose Erin Arnold. I was drawn to the Myofascial Release aspect to her work since I dabble in a bit of that in my own work. At my first appointment she asked me when I weaned my daughter and remarked that when breastfeeding stops the change of estrogen in your body directly affects your pelvic floor. That's why I was leak free for 9 months and all of a sudden it came back. My body is also doing a lot of weight bearing, picking up an increasingly heavy toddler who still likes to be carried in my arms (then put down, then picked up and so on). After my first session, we found out that it's not that my pelvic floor is weak, it's too tight and overworking. I needed to learn how to release my pelvic floor. Releasing your pelvic floor means you can contract it correctly. More on releasing/contracting in an upcoming post.
Myofascial release by hands is truly magical. I can't explain exactly how it feels, it's sort of like your body twitches into release. It astonishes me how the smallest touch can have such huge impact on the body. My second appointment focused on an internal pelvic exam and myofascial release. It didn't feel as invasive as I feared, but it was kind of weird to be honest. It was very gentle and had an amazing impact on not only my pelvic floor but my whole body. My butt felt like 2 fluffy marshmallows and I felt 2 inches taller.
I rested for a week and thought I'd try doing a HIIT workout. I knew that I could be running the risk of putting too much on my pelvic floor. I was fine during the workout but later that afternoon, I had 2 sneeze attacks and leaked again! Twice! Then I got my period! I went back to Erin a week later and told her what happened. She gently suggested that it was that HIIT workout that caused my set back and that when the uterus swells during a period it pushes against the bladder. Why did I do the HIIT workout? I knew it probably wasn't the best exercise to do when doing physical therapy for your pelvic floor. It felt good and I remembered what it was like pre-pregnancy to do cardio. I was good at it, I felt awesome after running 2 miles on the treadmill and doing squat jacks. Part of the battle of postnatal exercise is letting go of the idea that your exercise routine before baby doesn't necessarily serve you well after baby. You might eventually be able to do those 50 burpees again but you have to take care of yourself first. It took 10 months to create a human, it will take at least that long to heal. Move FORWARD, don't bounce BACK.