To Push or Not to Push

A good friend of mine recently saw a physical therapist who specializes in postpartum pelvic floor trauma. According to this physical therapist, a woman causes damage to her pelvic floor if she pushes more than 1.5 hours…

Which begs the question… what are the alternatives? Forceps? Cesarean? Wouldn’t this cause as much or more physical damage? Not to mention the emotional damage as well, considering that mom wanted a natural birth. (By the way, I’d love any and all comments here from birthing professionals with regard to appropriate amount of time to push).

In this vein, pelvic floor trauma, whether vaginally or rectally is something that many women experience and yet do not discuss because of the private nature and cultural taboos. For example, back labor, in my opinion, should be called “but labor” and yet I never understood what it meant until I myself experienced a natural birth. I was prepared for uterine contractions but not for contractions in my bottom!

In labor, there is no easy perfect solution. We know our bodies are meant to birth babies and yet we still experience some amount of physical trauma. Scar tissue of the perineal floor and/or around a cesarean incision is quite common and can cause pain during sex as well as other complications. The nature of scar tissue is to keep growing and spreading. If not handled treated, it can cause trouble such as painful sex.

Don’t despair! There is good news ahead!

The silver lining to all of this, and the side that many women don’t hear enough about, is that there is help available to heal scar tissue and related pelvic floor trauma. Los Angeles based sexological bodyworker Ellen Heed, for example, has been doing significant work to help women heal scar tissue and find relief. She uses a technique that is a combination of castor oil massage and emotional release to help heal and release scar tissue, sometimes after just one or two sessions!

In any case, this is the beginning of an interesting dialogue and one step closer to better postpartum care, an area that is severely neglected – and a topic for a future blog discussion – in American culture.


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