Pelvic Floor/Perineum

pelvic floor muscles,

pelvic floor muscles

 

 

 

 

 

Pelvic floor/perineum – Your pelvic floor is the basket-like structure of muscles and connective tissue attached to your pelvic bones that supports your bladder, uterus and bowl and controls urine and bowl movements.  It is stretched and often torn but rarely cut (episiotomy) in childbirth.

Pregnancy puts a tremendous amount of strain on the pelvic floor and vaginal delivery stretches the perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) to its natural limits, to accommodate your baby’s head. The use of instruments like a vacuum or forceps increase your chance of damaging your pelvic floor/perineum.

It is the rule not the exception to experience a tear from vaginal birth as studies show that 90% of women that deliver vaginally will have a tear. Afterward, the area will be quite painful but there are ways to manage the pain and reduce the swelling . Depending on the severity of the tear, healing time can vary from a couple weeks to months.

Vaginal tears vary from 1st to 4th degree

Perineum postpartum, 1st degree tear, 2nd degree tear, 3rd degree tear, 4th degree tear

 

 

 

 

  • First-degree tear: laceration is limited to superficial perineal skin or vaginal mucosa.
  • Second-degree tear: laceration extends beyond perineal skin and vaginal mucosa to perineal muscles andconnective tissue.
  • Third-degree tear: perineal skin, vaginal mucosa, muscles, and anal sphincter are torn.
  • Fourth-degree tear: perineal skin, vaginal mucosa, muscles, anal sphincter, and rectal mucosa are torn.

If you gave birth vaginally without an episiotomy or a tear, your perineum will be swollen or tender afterward, but it will likely feel much better within a couple of weeks. This does not mean that your pelvic floor is completely healed as it will still need weeks if not months and exercise to regain its pre-pregnancy function.

Cryotherapy (Ice) and compression reduces both pain and swelling naturally and should be applied immediately after delivery and intermittently until the pain and swelling is gone. For added relief try numbing sprays like Dermoplast with the ice and compression.

While you’re healing, expect the discomfort to slowly improve. Contact your health care provider if the pain gets worse; the wound becomes hot, swollen and painful; or you notice a pus-like discharge. Applying counter pressure to prolapse, a condition in which structures such as the uterus, rectum, bladder, urethra, small bowel, or the vagina itself may begin to prolapse, or fall, out of their normal positions, will relieve discomfort and aid in healing.

Not all women who deliver vaginally experience actual prolapse, but most women have heaviness and a “falling out” feeling after delivery that can also be helped with proper pelvic floor support and cryotherapy (ice) provided by a pelvic brace or support.

Postpartum Hair Loss

Postpartum hair loss, telogen effluvium

Style, individuality, and even personality. We use our hair to show off all of these things, and our hair can tell a story about who we are with each little cut and color.

Which is why experiencing hair loss at any stage in life can feel so shocking and upsetting.

Whenever a body goes through a traumatic shock, hair can be one of the first casualties. Think of your body as a tree, and winter is coming. To protect itself, your body stops producing and lets go of hair to preserve the nutrients needed for vital functions. Some of the reasons the body can go through hair loss is:

  • Surgery
  • Hormone changes and therapy
  • An accident
  • Medications
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Vitamin and nutrient deficiency
  • and, you guessed it, childbirth

At any given time, 15% of human head hair is going through a shedding phase to make way for new hair. When estrogen levels increase during pregnancy, new hair stops growing and goes into a resting phase. For many women they feel like their hair is fuller than ever when pregnant.

But those nutritional debt collectors come calling once estrogen levels begin to return to pre-pregnancy levels. Postpartum women commonly go through a period of telogen effluvium, or temporary hair loss. About 3-4 months after delivery, many women experience what they would describe as excessive shedding of hair, this is because all the hair that was in a resting phase during pregnancy is ready to make way new strands and the old begin coming out at one time.

The good news is that it’s only temporary! You may see some thin spots around the scalp and ears, this can be even more frustrating if you didn’t have much hair to begin with. But your normal fullness should return several months later. If you continue to experience excessive hair loss either during pregnancy or after a year postpartum this may be a sign of vitamin deficiency and a doctor should be consulted.

Being a new mom can bring on many many surprises and challenges. Don’t let temporary hair loss catch you off guard. Embrace it. Rock a new ‘do for a little bit. (Maybe avoid tight ponytails). Either way, you’ve got this.