Childbirth can seem like such a scary thing, but it doesn’t have to be.
I’m a researcher, I pride myself on my tight relationship with “Dr. Google” and my ability to spend hours gathering all the knowledge about all the things. Childbirth included.
I spent a good amount of time prior to and during the first part of my pregnancy thinking about what labor would be like. I read all the “how-to’s” and “what to do’s”, but I still felt like I wasn’t ready.
It wasn’t enough to just read about preparing for childbirth, I needed to sit with and speak to an expert.
Someone who had medical experience and childbirth experience herself. Someone who could tell me what to expect, how to respond, and that I most definitely could and would do it successfully.
Enter my physical therapist.
For 10 years I had been a patient of physical therapy. A couple of moves from state to state and three providers later, I found Breathe. Physical Therapy and Wellness. I knew what to expect from my physical therapist after my lengthy bout with pelvic floor dysfunction, painful intercourse, and difficulties with physical activity, but I had never been pregnant before. And because I had never been pregnant before, I had also never considered what a physical therapist might say about preparing my body for birth, and for postpartum recovery.
Breathe. Physical Therapy and Wellness are more than just a doctors. They are woman who get it. Someone who’s dealt with pelvic floor dysfunction themselves. Moms. Women who have given birth.
When I first met with my physical therapist at Breathe. I was 20 weeks pregnant. We chatted like friends. I felt so at ease. I was hoping to find relief from the pain that had developed in my pubic bone as a result of my growing belly, but I ended up leaving with so much more.
Receiving regular physical therapy care during pregnancy prepared me for childbirth in the following ways:
1. It released pain and tension that I was holding in my body.
Pregnancy can be stressful on the body. We’re growing babies at a rapid pace and our bodies are expanding to assist the process. This has the potential to lead to some pretty serious aches and pains. Simple, safe adjustments in my posture and the way I moved on a habitual basis eliminated these pains entirely. I was able to sit comfortably, walk 2-3 miles a day, and finally get some sleep!
2. It empowered me. It gave me hope.
Before meeting with a physical therapist, I was fearful of the birth process and whether or not my body was capable of doing it. After many years of painful exercise, painful intercourse, and tight, tense pelvic muscles, I had convinced myself that “soften, open, release” simply wasn’t going to happen with my pelvic floor. My physical therapist shared her own experiences with the same pelvic floor issues I had, and she shared her experiences giving birth – giving me hope and confidence that I could and would give birth despite tight muscles in my pelvis.
3. It gave me wisdom and the ability to tap into what my body was feeling and doing.
One of the things I didn’t expect from physical therapy was 10 minutes of deep relaxation and meditation. My physical therapist walked me through a guided meditation in which we were able to see the tension of my pelvic floor muscles drop by more than half. I was able to locate areas of my body that were holding on to unnecessary tension and soften them simply by listening to and remembering the words she said to me. Later on, I carried this insight to moments of stress or worry. I could tap in and find out exactly what was going on in my body and release. Talk about empowering.
4. It showed me the strength of community.
They say it takes a village, and that’s truly the case, even before the baby comes. Physical therapy with Breathe. Physical Therapy was so much more than physical support for me. It was emotional support, comradery, personal expertise and experience, and friendship.
I visited with the incredible physical therapists at Breathe. 1-2 times a month throughout my whole pregnancy. When it came time to give birth, I was able to use all the wisdom they shared and exercises they provided to soften my pelvic floor muscles, move and relax my body into a space necessary to surrender, and feel strength and power in delivering my son naturally into my own two hands.