“Don’t lift so heavy when you’re doing squats! All of your organs will fall out later after you have kids!”
“You’re pregnant, you shouldn’t be doing any lifting! You need to rest!”
“Just wait until you’ve had a few kids, you’ll be peeing your pants all the time!”
“As your doctor, I’ll say hope for the best, expect the worst. It’s normal and happens to everyone.”
“Your body will never be the same after having kids! Good luck trying to enjoy sex ever again!”
Everyone laughs about it but I have never once thought it was funny. UGH. Eye roll. How many of us have heard comments like these? These are the things I had been told for years growing up. At the same time, being raised religious, I was told it was a gift and responsibility as a woman to become a mother someday. I was continuously and flagrantly irked by these conflicting messages. If motherhood was so great, why did I have to sacrifice the things I love about my body to participate in it? If it was such a special calling, shouldn’t there be a way for it to not be absolutely miserable?
My desire to become a mother burned brightly when I got married, but there was always a lurking fear about wrecking my body that truly held me back from fully committing to the mothering profession.These fears were learned. They were taught to me by generations of women who did not have the luxury of better care. They were valid, they were backed by evidence, they were absolutely justified. What I didn’t know, however, was that in 2022, a day where women who deserve more can get more in society, these fears were no longer necessary.
Enter pelvic floor physical therapy.
I first learned about pelvic floor PT in physical therapy school, but they didn’t teach us much. It was something along the lines of: ahh yes. Pelvis. SI joint dysfunction. Urinary incontinence. Reproductive organs. Sexual problems. Kegels. Gross, old people things.That’s what it sounded like to me and I was not interested. I went to PT school to become a movement expert, a doctor who heals without medicine. I was never ever planning on “therapying” genitalia for the rest of my life.
What really sparked my interest was seeing an Instagram reel about how pelvic floor PT wasn’t just Kegels. The video showed pelvic floor physical therapists running with patients in the hallways, doing strengthening exercises with pregnant women, laughing and doing lots of fun, challenging, interesting things. They were doing things I’ve always been told were not acceptable during pregnancy. It spoke peace to the inner conundrum I’d had for years about motherhood, and I immediately had to learn more.
I started researching what pelvic floor physical therapy really is all about and got sucked right in; I could not stop. I signed up for one continuing education class outside of my studies at PT school. Then another. Before I knew it, I was five classes deep out of my own pocket, and figuring out a way to make pelvic floor PT my reality. I researched pelvic floor physical therapists that I could train with for my student clinical rotation in Utah. I didn’t want someone cut and dry, only doing the basics I learned in PT school, I wanted someone who could do it all and teach me all. I quickly found Dr. Betty and Dr. Andrea at Reborn Pelvic Health & Wellness and knew that I was home.
Dr. Betty and Dr. Andrea showed me the way through my continuing education and beyond. I was so satisfied to learn that pelvic PT is traditional physical therapy, but leaving nothing, not even pregnant women who are expected and known to be so miserable, out. It is full optimization through every stage of reproductive life. Every person has a pelvis, and every pelvis contributes to the overall wellness of every person. We can’t just ignore it through our recovery of whatever musculoskeletal ailment we may be seeking to heal and pretend things will be okay.
Especially not childbirth.Tear an ACL? Months of recovery. Thousands of dollars of PT. Grow an entire human being and watch your body completely transform, and then push that 8 lb human out of a very tiny hole, tearing muscles and skin and experiencing major trauma? Your doctor says you’ll be fine after 6 weeks of resting.
This BS mindset was out of the question for me now. Women deserve better. We make the world go around by doing it all, producing children who change the world, and changing the world themselves with their skills and abilities. Standard of care is no longer “expect the worst, hope for the best”. Standard of care is now “do everything you can to cause the best to happen by taking care of your body with proper physical therapy treatment”. My inner motherhood conundrum was now an inner motherhood passion. I was going to show through all I had learned, and through example, that there is a better way.
Knowing that there was a solution out in the world for me to have kids but not wreck my body, I knew it was time to try to get pregnant. I was fortunate to not have to try very hard. By the end of the first semester of my last year of physical therapy school I was growing a little human while learning hands-on how to be a pelvic floor PT.
During my clinical rotation at Reborn, I began to grow physically, academically, and emotionally with my patients. It has been almost comical to see my belly, brain and heart all be completely filled with all things maternity all at once. I started out with excitement and a certain level of ignorance both as a first time mother and first time student pelvic floor physical therapist. Could my patients trust someone who is very passionate but hardly knows what they are doing? The more I practiced and the more I learned, my confidence grew from “I hope this works” to “I know this will work”. The patients I was treating alongside Dr. Betty and Dr. Andrea were getting better. I got to see the transformation and joy of so many patients who had been struggling with issues that affected them physically and emotionally for years as they overcame their challenges, gaining new knowledge about how to heal their bodies. How full and rewarding my life was becoming!
At the same time, the third trimester of my pregnancy came on quickly, and things got physically more difficult for me every day. My body took every musculoskeletal flaw I had and turned it up to 1000 despite my attempts at preventing it with exercise. Low back pain, pubic symphasis pain, pelvic floor heaviness, pain with sex, it all kind of hit at once. It is not an exaggeration to say there were many days I could not walk, or hardly get out of bed, because I was in so much pain. Pregnancy hormones did not spare my emotions, either. Here I was, doing the thing, trying to prove that my body could be strong and not get ruined because I was carrying a child, and my body was saying “Lol, you thought!”
Knowing the things I knew about pelvic health, seeing my patients progress, I was not completely disheartened, because there was something that could be done about it. I signed myself up to be treated by one of Reborn’s incredible physical therapists, Dr. Hayley. I was following the new standard of care! As much as I could try to treat myself, it would never be as effective as the hands-on, expert treatment of an experienced PT. She and the other therapists surrounding me helped me brainstorm new ideas for treatment. Even my husband jumped on board to help me out. Today, I am able to walk, swim, gently strength train, and treat patients for 10 hours a day, and I still have a few weeks of pregnancy and physical therapy school to go.
I cannot say I am pain-free. I cannot say it is no longer a challenge. I cannot say I am a pelvic floor expert. I cannot say that I am even ready to give birth, or that I feel 100% confident in treating patients on my own! It is simply reality that things are not going to be perfect at any point in time. That is true for everyone. We could not call it living if we were not experiencing the good and the bad, the struggle and the triumph, the pain and the pleasure. We definitely could not call it living if we were not constantly learning every step of the way.
At the same time, we were never meant to live in constant suffering or emotional turmoil about the state of our bodies. My experience living and breathing pelvic floor PT has helped me not feel helpless, destined to bloat and decay like a sewer witch because I used my body’s right and gift to reproduce. It has taught me that optimization does not mean perfection, it means demanding the best possible outcome, and that it is possible to achieve and absolutely what every owner of a vagina deserves.
As I step out further into the world of pelvic floor physical therapy, this is what I aim to bring to my patients. Healing. Hope. Knowledge. Empowerment. Women no longer have to fear pregnancy, childbirth, or the journey beyond. We do not have to lose ourselves, our bodies or our dignity to live our dreams of motherhood. We have changed the standard of care. We are in control. Mamas, let’s get out there, see our pelvic floor PTs, and start living our lives to the fullest!
Do you have pelvic floor dysfunction? Let our expert pelvic health physical therapist start your journey off on the right foot! We are here to help.