This is a guest post by my very own pelvic floor physiotherapist, Mercedes Eustergerling. Stay tuned for my own blog post about my experiences as a pelvic floor physio patient!
- It’s not too late.
I’ve heard so many moms tell me that they have pelvic health issues, but they think it’s too late to do anything about it. Whether your child is six months or forty years old, it’s not too late to come to physiotherapy. The great thing about muscles is that they’re adaptable and we can effect change at any time.
How do you know when you can make an appointment? As soon as you’re cleared to have intercourse, it’s safe to do pelvic floor physiotherapy. If you’d like to come before then and get started with external work (no internal exam), that’s great, too!
- We do more than incontinence.
Lots of moms know that if they leak when they laugh, they should probably see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. While we can certainly help with urinary leakage and incontinence, we also have the training to help with much, much more. Pelvic floor physiotherapists can assess and treat conditions such as prolapse, chronic pelvic pain, tailbone pain, painful intercourse and vulvodynia (pain in the external genitalia). We can also help with urge incontinence (urgency to go to the bathroom) and changes that accompany menopause.
- You can come to physiotherapy during your period.
Most women shed a couple of ounces of uterine lining and blood over the course of a week, so the blood that you may lose during the hour-long appointment is minimal. We use absorbent paper on the bed for all appointments and we wear gloves. Pelvic floor physiotherapists are accepting of the normal function of the female body and won’t judge or make you feel uncomfortable. If you have an irregular cycle or your appointment happens to fall on a day during your menstruation, please don’t feel like you need to cancel!
- You can come during pregnancy.
Doesn’t it just seem wrong that pregnant women are asked to fill their bladders to the point of almost bursting before they go in for an ultrasound? Don’t the technicians know that pregnant women can’t hold their pee very well? Whether it’s for urinary leakage or incontinence, low back, pelvic or hip pain, you can do pelvic floor physiotherapy during pregnancy as long as your doctor or midwife hasn’t told you otherwise due to pregnancy complications.
- You can come if you’ve experienced sexual, physical, or psychological trauma.
All aspects of physiotherapy are optional, including the internal exam. There’s no need to disclose an experience of trauma with your therapist, but if you have specific triggers or no-go zones, you can just let us know, and we’ll honour them. Pelvic floor physiotherapists see people with all backgrounds and will provide a respectful environment.
- Not all physiotherapists do pelvic floor.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is not an entry-level practice, which means that it’s not taught in our university programs. Nowadays, physiotherapists have master’s degrees, and that means that they do a lot of school to be able to practise. Even so, they need to take even more courses in order to do pelvic floor work. A pelvic floor physiotherapist has experience with internal exams and is trained to assess the structures inside the pelvis, especially the muscles. Any healthcare provider who doesn’t do an internal exam—including a physiotherapist—is not able to get a complete picture of your condition.
- You will get homework.
The whole point of physiotherapy is that we teach you how to optimize your function. We’ll give you homework to do between visits so that you can continue your progress at home and eventually, do it on your own without needing more visits. You may get some stretches, breathing exercises, or strengthening exercises to do. It takes some getting used to at first but once it’s a part of your routine like brushing your teeth, you won’t have to think twice about it.
- It’s covered by extended health benefits.
If you have physiotherapy coverage, you can claim your pelvic floor visits through your insurance. Most women only need four to six visits. If you are unsure about your coverage, you can phone your insurance company and ask.
- We love it when you bring your babies!
A lot of pelvic floor physiotherapists will let you bring babies and older children to your appointments. Always ask first to be certain. If yours does, then you don’t have to worry about finding childcare and the added headache and expense that brings. Just bring the kids, and we’ll take care of the rest.
10. Some physiotherapists have online booking.
When you’re a mom, convenience is key. Booking online allows you to make an appointment at 2 a.m. when you’re up with your child, and it lets you manage your schedule from your phone or computer. You can receive reminder emails or texts and easily change your appointment times as other things arise. Physiotherapists are moving to online booking in increasing numbers, so ask if this is an option for you.
Find a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist near you:
The following provincial organizations allow you to search for someone specializing in Pelvic Floor Physio near you:
Mercedes Eustergerling is a physiotherapist in Calgary, Alberta. She has a Bachelor of Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and a Master of Physical Therapy from the University of Western Ontario. Mercedes has pursued an interest in chronic pain, earning a Pain Management Certificate from the University of Alberta. She also has a Certificate in Sport Physiotherapy and works with a variety of athletes, including Hockey Alberta’s U16 female teams.
As a mother and a pelvic floor physiotherapist, Mercedes understands the changes that take place in a woman’s body during pregnancy and after childbirth. At Vida Health & Wellness, she makes every effort to help fellow mothers achieve their goals in a welcoming and comfortable environment. Mercedes offers hour-long one on one appointments during a variety of hours, and clients are welcome to bring their babies and children. She has online booking to make it easy to manage schedules and electronic charting to facilitate communication with other healthcare providers.
Please see Vida Health & Wellness at www.vidahealth.ca for more information.