Women who had a vaginal delivery often experience tearing of the perineum (the area between the vaginal opening and anus) or had an episiotomy (a surgical incision through the perineum), both of which need at least six weeks to heal.
Incontinence, or the inability to stop urine from leaking, is also a common complaint. Some women also experience painful intercourse or pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which the bladder, uterus or rectum falls out of its normal position, straining the pelvic floor muscles.
Kegels, Kegels, Kegels, says Suzanne Aceron Badillo, P.T., W.S.C, clinical program director of the Women’s Health Rehabilitation Program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. By tightening and then releasing the muscles surrounding the vagina, Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor. This helps control bladder function and stabilizes the pelvic area.
In cases of painful intercourse, relaxation is key. If you’ve had an incision or tear in the perineum, you may be unconsciously flexing your pelvic floor, which can cause sex to hurt, says Badillo. To help prevent a tear in the perineum, Badillo suggests a daily massage of the area in the final weeks of pregnancy. Postpartum, a daily massage will help a scar become more pliant.