Birthing Injuries - What You Don't Know, But Should

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Healthy Mothers

Pregnancy is a magical experience and nothing short of a miracle. In our quest to be prepared, many of us search far and wide for expert knowledge. We peruse the internet, read books, query our doctors endlessly, and of course, there is never a shortage of friends and families who want to share their advice or experiences (horror stories and all). What people are rarely talking about, however, is what happens to your body during and after delivery.

You may be surprised to learn that millions of women experience trauma or injury during the birthing process. More disturbing than the sheer number, (because let’s be honest, it doesn’t take a genius IQ to realize that labor and delivery is a very physical endeavor), is the fact that most women who experience residual pain or dysfunction often go undiagnosed or untreated. Even if women find the courage to seek help, they are often disappointed or discouraged when their doctors dismiss their concerns as a normal consequence of pregnancy or simply unfounded. As a result, many accept their symptoms as their new “norm” and have resolved to endure a life of pain or impairment.

I’d like to share a few stories of women who experienced birth trauma. Maybe you can relate or know someone who has had similar problems. Please know that these scenarios are not meant to frighten, but inform. There are solutions and I am writing this blog to increase awareness, open the doors of communication, and advocate for women to receive the care they need and deserve.

Courtney's Experience

Courtney and her husband tried to conceive for nearly a year. They read books about every possible method to ensure conception – tips on how to calculate ovulation, increase sperm count, optimal positioning, the right foods to increase fertility, etc., etc. After nearly 11 months, they were elated to learn Courtney was pregnant! The pregnancy progressed normally, and Courtney found the experience to be absolutely blissful. She read her “what to expect” books, attended every birthing class, practiced her breathing and focal points, exercised at least 5 days a week and was a master at Kegel exercises. She felt fully prepared and was already planning her post-partum activities.

When the big day came, Courtney was ready and everything went as planned. The only hiccup was a small perineal tear. The doctor said he placed a few stiches and everything should heal without issue. Fast forward 2 weeks. . . Courtney knew something wasn’t right. She remembered hearing friends joke about leaking urine when they sneezed or laughed, but Courtney was losing full control of her bladder several times a day. And once, at the grocery store, she was completely humiliated when she couldn’t hold a bowel movement and soiled her under pants. After this, she never left home without a change of clothes.

Her issues continued and she looked forward to her 6-week check-up to learn what was wrong. She was surprised when her OBGYN happily announced that she had “healed nicely” and she could resume all activities, including intercourse. Courtney was shocked but too embarrassed to say anything. Surely if there was a medical reason there would have been some physical indication. Her life was quickly becoming unrecognizable to her. She couldn’t swim, jog, hike or do any of the things she used to do. Two years after giving birth, Courtney had no confidence, she was depressed and she just knew she was to blame. Even her marriage was starting to suffer.

The Facts About Birthing Injuries

Courtney is not alone. At the beginning of the last century, as many as 9 in 1,000 American women did not survive labor.  Recent studies indicate a disturbing number of women still quietly endure bowel and bladder incontinence, painful sex, back aches, and crippling pelvic pain for years after giving birth due to undiagnosed and untreated childbirth injuries. In 2015 the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reported that 24% of women were still experiencing painful intercourse 18 months after having a baby. In 2016 the Journal PLoS One found that 77% of more than 1,500 mothers studied had constant back pain a year after birth, and 49% had urinary incontinence.

Unexpectedly, these issues aren’t just a problem for women who give birth vaginally. A 2014 study showed that women who had given birth via cesarean had similar degrees of pelvic pain as those who had given birth vaginally. In 2015 researches from the University of Michigan looked at women seven weeks after giving birth. MRIs revealed that 29% had evidence of undiagnosed fractures in their pelvic bones, while 41% had undiagnosed tears in their pelvic floor muscles, (those muscles that wrap around the vagina and anus). Childbirth is a well-studied traumatic experience for women’s bodies, but medicine is sorely lacking in postnatal care, leaving women incapacitated for years or even the rest of their lives.

Contrary to popular belief, most OBGYNs are not trained in the intricacies of pelvic floor musculature and neurology, or how to preserve them, or even how to recognize when they are in a state of dysfunction. Typically, at postpartum appointments, the OBGYN is looking at the cervix and uterus. In fact, the speculum they use inserts and covers up the muscles and nerves that are the base of the entire pelvic floor structure. They completely bypass one of the most important areas to examine after giving birth. Now, it is important to note here that, thankfully and understandably, obstetric training is heavily concentrated on what to do in life threatening situations during the actual birthing process, as well as infection, etc. after birth.

Postpartum Care Woefully Lacking in the US

An article published just this week (read here) discusses the epidemic of inadequate postpartum care in the US. Compared with other countries, we are clearly missing the boat and mother's are suffering needlessly. The stories below are prime examples:

Pelvic and vaginal pain after giving birth can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss with your doctor, especially if everything he or she sees looks “fine.” Emily is an example of someone who suffered for years with pain after giving birth. She experienced sharp pain in her vagina when attempting to engage in intimacy with her husband even after she was cleared to have intercourse. She gave it a few weeks and tried again. After six months she went to see if her OBGYN could help. Emily was told by her OBGYN and her family doctor to “go slow” and make sure she was “lubricated.” Sex was not satisfying for either of them as she was in pain and he didn’t want to hurt her. This continued for years.

Felicia not only had incontinence, she suffered from prolapse and severe constipation. In her own little hell, she was told that her uterus was actually falling out of her vagina. She didn’t even know this was possible. Initially her doctor told her to try Kegels and referred her to a urogynecologist to fix the prolapse. Everyone, she was told, has constipation from time to time and to just take a laxative. When she went to the specialist, she was told that the muscles just needed to be lifted and the uterus placed back where it belonged. Felicia had the surgery. What the specialists didn’t tell her was that the surgery didn’t actually fix the problem with the pelvic floor muscles themselves…so although the uterus and muscles were lifted back into place, the muscles were still too weak and the nerves were still damaged. The muscles couldn’t hold everything in place and she was horrified when the prolapse returned. To top it off, the constipation never went away and just made everything worse.

Pelvic Floor Therapy

You will be relieved to know that all of these women were able to find a solution that completely changed their lives. They found pelvic floor therapy, which is a non-invasive specialized treatment for pelvic muscle dysfunction. It is free from risk, complication or side effects and addresses all of the nuances of the muscles, nerves, and pelvic organs, as well as urinary, bowel and vaginal function.

Pelvic floor therapy is administered by specially trained occupational or physical therapists. Treatment includes exercise, manual techniques and neuromuscular re-education using biofeedback. Biofeedback is a painless process that uses a computer with video and auditory output to monitor and display muscle activity that we are normally unaware of. Special sensors record data about how the pelvic floor is functioning and the information is used to help people modify or change abnormal movement patterns. This may mean increasing a response, decreasing a response, or learning to coordinate two responses more effectively.

Our Commitment

At OptimaLiving Therapy, we have built a practice around providing expert care to women. Our occupational therapists are certified in Pelvic Floor Therapy and both our OTs and PTs are highly skilled in treating common hip, pelvis, back and abdominal injuries that often arise as a consequence of pregnancy. We want you to know that you don’t have to suffer. Being a woman is a blessing but it does come with unique challenges. We want you to know there are solutions and we are here to help!

Learn More About Our Services

If you would like to learn more about our services or find out if your condition is appropriate for Pelvic Floor Therapy, request a Pelvic Floor Evaluation OR join us for a FREE (completely private) Open Clinic - see details below.

Phone: 623-777-3113


FREE (Private) Open Clinic for people suffering from Birthing Injuries

Have your questions answered, get tips for home, and learn more about non-surgical, drug free solutions!

We offer non-invasive, drug and surgery free solutions for Birthing Injuries. You will have access to revolutionary treatment not available anywhere else...for FREE (as a service to the community).​ Register below.

This FREE Open Clinic is Limited to the first 15 that register!


Saturday, September 16th, 2017 @ 10:00 AM


8506 W. Deer Valley Road #105

Peoria, AZ 85382​