Body After Baby – What’s Normal?

Everything is different after having a baby, and I am not just talking about the life-changing event of welcoming a baby into your life and sleep patterns. I am talking about changes to your body. From stretched out ligaments to shifted internal organs – some things go back to the way they were on their own, and some things need a little help getting back to normal.

Body After Baby - What is Normal?
Like everything else in life, the key to getting things back to the way they were is education. In order to know how to “fix” things you need to have a clear understanding of what is normal and what’s not normal. As part of my continuing series with Florida Hospital, I spoke with Heather Shanahan from Florida Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation and Dr. Bela Kudish from the Urogynecology Center for Women about some of the body changes women experience following childbirth. We focused stress urinary incontinence, a problem 35 million women in America struggle with every day.

Even though so many women struggle with leaking on a regular basis, Shanahan assured me that leakage is not normal. And there is good news for women experiencing leaks; physical therapy can help.

It is not normal to leak urine, have constipation or have painful intercourse, the earlier you take care of it, the better off you will be, Shanahan said.

By now most women have probably heard of kegels, and their importance before, during and after pregnancy to strength the pelvic floor. But 70% of women are not doing their kegels correctly. Heather said that correct kegels are more about the coordination of the muscles than how hard you squeeze. And incorrect kegels can actually do more harm than good.

That’s why talking to your doctor is so important. Ask your doctor how to properly do kegels, and if you are having trouble with leaking or doing kegels correctly, make an appointment to speak with a physical therapist. A physical therapist can help determine exercises to help you strengthen your pelvic floor and core muscles to help stop leaking and make sure you are doing them correctly.

After childbirth, women can have asymptomatic prolapse and a splitting of the abdominal fascia or perineum or many other dysfunctions. It’s important to be screened, have your questions answered and take care of your body. Go see a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health, Shanahan said. 

While taking care of her family’s needs, women often put their own health needs on the back burner. So Shanahan advises women to make a list of questions and things they want to discuss with their doctor before their visit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be sure to bring up any changes, pain or problems you might be experiencing.

Ask Your Doctor
Visiting a physical therapist doesn’t have to be a major time commitment. Often just a few visits to determine the best approach and get you started can make the difference. Many women experience relief from bladder leakage with physical therapy, but if that doesn’t work there are also surgical options available via urogynecologists like Dr. Kudish.

Women in Central Florida who would like more information about women’s services can visit or call 407.303.4HER.

1 thought on “Body After Baby – What’s Normal?”

  1. Thank you for shining more light on the importance of kegel exercises! I was not that aware of it when I was younger and I think it’s important for women to do these exercises. Instead of spending tons of money on adult diapers or considering surgery, there are a lot of high tech options lately for younger moms to enjoy these days – such as the Candy or kGoal or Elvie, which allow you to track your kegel exercises on your smartphone or tablet, similar to a fitbit! These were my top three, but I recently saw the Candy at the Sexual Health Expo in LA and after hearing of all their unique features, purchase one on the spot and this has proved to be fun to use and personally I thought it was easier to try this before getting professional help, and my pelvic floor muscles feel much tighter already!


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