I have the honor of working with many women before, during and after their pregnancies as well as many years afterwards. They are the reason I am now working on more education classes as well as infant screenings to empower women to know their own bodies, to trust their instincts, to regain their confidence in themselves as mothers and women, to realize that our culture has eradicated the opportunity to learn from our mothers, aunts, sisters and friends and created this unspoken expectation that as strong, independent women, we should just know. Know how to make that perfect tight, tucked in swaddle thing that instantly puts babies to sleep. Know how to properly position a baby for perfect latch and breastfeeding and magically know what might be wrong if that doesn’t work perfectly. Know how to get ourselves healed up and ready for life back at work, in the gym, in the bedroom, on the trampoline and somehow if we aren’t ready, instantly know how to do kegels to get back in shape. How on earth are we supposed to figure that all out – by ourselves??? Yikes – I’m headed for a real rant here. Reigning it back in! Let’s just focus on C-sections for a moment. According to the CDC, statistics from 2013 show that 32.7% of all births are C-sections.
I’d like to share the testimony of a woman who is both a therapist as well as a patient of Myofascial release (MFR). She is not my client but gave me permission to share her story to shed light on an all too common experience so that others might be encouraged or find healing much sooner than she did. There is an abundance of info on the internet about C-sections, and you can go to my previous post for other info about pregnancy here but I want to focus on Christine’s testimony and the factors that could have prevented her from facing all she did in the 16 years since her son was born. Here is Christine’s story.
“What should have been the happiest day of my life ended up the most terrifying and horrific day. The birth of my son was a series of mishandled events that led to me undergoing a C-section before the anesthetic kicked in, and almost losing him. He was OK, thankfully, and today is an amazingly gifted human being; but the resulting trauma experience of that day led to years of chronic pelvic pain, knee pain and abdominal issues. I started my MFR healing journey almost a year ago, after trying literally everything else for a decade and a half. Last week, I had my very first formal full MFR session with the amazingly gifted Amy Johnson at Therapy on the Rocks during the rebounding seminar. I got to re-frame and re-live the birth of my son in a way I can only describe as miraculous. Today is my son’s birthday, and for the first time in 16 years the ghosts of terror and grief from that horrible day are not haunting me at all. Today I am filled with peace and celebration for my beautiful son, and realized that for the first time in a long time, I have no pain in my pelvis. I could not be more grateful to John, Amy, Yvonne Bannister, Joel Ronningen, and all the other amazingly gifted therapists that facilitated the unwinding of this trauma and sparked the beginning of true and authentic healing in my body during the rebounding seminar. I am realizing that in channel 3 not only are miracles possible but it’s obvious that they are actually happening all the time.”
Channel 3 is just our name for when we truly feel and let our subconscious lead us because we feel safe enough to let go of the thinking and striving to control everything. It’s when our bodies can release past traumas, unwind and come back into alignment.
There are several pieces I’d like to address. Most of us have the attitude that if all is well that ends well, meaning mom and baby survive and recover, that everything is fine. We rarely stop to consider the need to grieve any loss of delivering naturally or the fears that happen with an emergency C-section or the feelings of failure that so many women feel when they aren’t able to deliver vaginally, no matter what the reason. As long as we go on with the same beliefs, ignoring these losses, fears and grief, we will continue to see the same types of ongoing pain and progressive issues. This deep level of physical and emotional pain is a significant trauma and can cause reactions and triggers in us that we aren’t even aware of but it is treatable when acknowledged.
Secondly, scars can continue to grow internally like vines, entrapping or constricting the intestines or organs, pulling up around and into musculature that can tighten down and contribute to low back pain. This can also extend upwards into the diaphragm. The guarding and protection that happens as moms try to recover and are on lifting/activity restrictions compounded by the curling forward of nursing or feeding the baby, also causes a tightening of the front of the torso which causes back pain. While those who have had C-sections don’t have the trauma to the vaginal canal, there has still been the stretching of the pelvic floor and pressure throughout the entire pregnancy. They can still suffer from many of the same issues and restrictions that moms who delivered vaginally deal with, such as urinary incontinence, urgency or frequency, leaking with different activities, tailbone pain, difficulty sitting, etc. . . The muscles of the pelvic floor attach to the tailbone and any restrictions or asymmetries can cause everything from low back pain to tightness in the chest to headaches. It is particularly important to get the scar treated so that it doesn’t interfere with future pregnancies. This same issue with scar tissue also occurs, usually to a lesser but still significant degree, with episiotomy scars or from tearing.
Finally, I’d like to share how treatment can help and when is best to receive it. It is best to get 1-4 treatments during pregnancy to keep the pelvis in good alignment, relieve pressure on the sacrum to minimize any back pain, decrease pressure on the diaphragm to alleviate heart burn/reflux and improve breathing, and help ensure baby is head down at appropriate time and much more. Whether baby is born vaginally or via C-section, I recommend treatment when client is ready or cleared to resume sex or the scar has healed well. However, often painful sex is one reason women come to see me so another guideline is 6-8 weeks for vaginal or 8-10 for C-section or if there was a tear or episiotomy vaginally. In the best of circumstances, your insides get smashed and rearranged for the better part of 9 months. In the worst cases, things are torn, cut or damaged. Pelvic floor work and myofascial release can help to restore balance and symmetry to the tissue there. It is a slow sustained holds into restrictions that allows for the release of interleukin 8 which is body’s own anti-inflammatory and cancer fighter. Treatment helps to rehydrate inflamed and damaged tissue to restore mobility. I also check the strength of a kegel motion so we can develop an effective home program. Some patients have had so much pain and trauma that they are spasming and kegels would be worst possible thing for them. I always give clients things to continue at home so they can become independent and confident in caring for their own body!
As a woman and a mom, I want to do everything I can to help us stop being so hard on ourselves. To stop having these crazy expectations that we should just know! To feel comfortable asking for help. To have a community where we feel safe getting help, discussing uncomfortable things like peeing, pooping, sex, pain, breastfeeding, scar tissue and our pelvic floors! We can do hard things!
Wishing you all the blessings of a happy, healthy pelvic floor!