Postpartum Pelvic Floor: What's Normal?

A mother's postpartum recovery can be a long road of uncertainties. 

With all the different phases of your body's transition back to it's pre-baby state, it's easy to think your recovery isn't going according to plan. Some of these recovery stages you expect and others might have you asking your postpartum doula team is this is "normal" or not. 

Truth is, everyone's birth and postpartum journey is different. 

One of these journeys is the recovery of all the pelvic floor muscles and tissues that did all the hard work bringing your new baby into the world. We wanted to offer new parents some peace of mind when it comes to pelvic floor recovery so they can feel confident that they're on track with the healing process and when they should get a second opinion from their doctor. 

How does birth affect your pelvic floor?

Pregnancy or vaginal birth can sometimes cause the muscles in your pelvic floor to become weak. Even if you delivered your baby cesarean, your pelvic floor may have become stretched or even overstretched. This stretching can make it more difficult to activate these muscles or control some of the functions that rely on muscle strength in this area. 

Pelvic Floor Sensation After Birth

What's a normal pelvic floor feeling, anyway?

Many women experience soreness, bruising, numbness or discomfort in various areas of their pelvic floor. In the first few days to weeks postpartum, this area tends to feel heavy or sometimes swollen when you overexert your body. When the pelvic floor is weaker it becomes more common to have bladder leaks, or even some bowel discomfort.  

In normal cases, these symptoms tend to go away within the first six weeks postpartum. If you're approaching the six week point and your pelvic floor symptoms are still severe it could suggest that you should seek out a medical opinion. 

Unusual Pelvic Floor Symptoms and Complicatons

When daily pain or discomfort persists after six weeks it could raise a red flag for medical intervention. Pelvic floor injuries affect many women and can cause very real physical and emotional discomfort when misdiagnosed or keep the concerns to themselves. 

Urinary or bowel incontinence is a big concern for women who might have damaged their pelvic floor during pregnancy or birth. This can be embarrassing and can keep women from enjoying activities they once enjoyed like running, hiking or sports. Painful sex for an extended period of time is also cause for concern. When the discomfort continues while you're intimate with your partner, it might be a sign that your pelvic floor muscles have become prolapsed, exceptionally weak or damaged more severely. 

Discuss these problems with your doctor at the first sign of persistent pain, discomfort or symptoms that aren't improving over time.  

Don't get nervous if you feel uncomfortable in those first few weeks postpartum, it's normal for pelvic floor muscles to need the opportunity to recover and restrengthen.

You know your body better than anyone and should never feel too nervous to voice your concerns to your postpartum team and your care provider.