Your Body After Baby

Pelvic Floor Health After Childbirth

About 40 percent of women who give birth vaginally will develop one or more of the problems collectively known as pelvic floor disorders. Childbirth leads to pelvic floor damage—a baby stretches the pelvic floor muscles and other tissues on its way through the birth canal, sometimes causing tearing or other damage. Even more damaging is the stretching of pelvic nerves that are needed for muscles to work properly.

Pelvic Floor Disorders

The St. Luke’s Center for Pelvic Health can help with these disorders, which may include:

  • Involuntary loss of urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise
  • Not being able to reach the bathroom in time
  • Loss of vaginal tone with bulging or “sagging” of your vaginal tissue creating pressure-like discomfort or fullness within the vagina
  • Pain and or lack of sensation with intercourse
  • Difficulty with control of bowel movements, as well as problems with defecation

Not treated, these disorders often grow worse over time, decreasing the quality of your life and may even require surgery to correct.

Risk Factors for Pelvic Floor Damage

Research results show that a number of key factors raise the risk of damage for women who deliver vaginally such as: 

  • Older age of the mother
  • Larger weight of the baby
  • The number of vaginal births
  • Longer second stage of labor (the time spent “pushing”)
  • Forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery
  • Episiotomy (a surgical cut made in the perineum during childbirth)

Sometimes women believe pelvic floor disorder symptoms are just a normal consequence of childbirth or a normal part of aging. Often women are too embarrassed to mention these problems to their doctor. The truth is that pelvic floor disorder symptoms although common are never a “normal” part of childbirth or aging.

Call the St. Luke’s Center for Pelvic Health at 484-526-4960 or toll free at 800-471-3058.