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Caring for Your Pelvic Floor and More: A Conversation with Dr. Samantha DuFlo of Indigo Physiotherapy

Last week, the FIT4MOM Baltimore Cityteam and Fit4Babymembers had the unique pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Samantha DuFlo of Indigo Physiotherapy. Dr. DuFlo and the staff of Indigo Physiotherapy specialize in treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, incontinence, bowel and bladder function, pregnancy and postpartum topics in the greater Baltimore region.

Dr. DuFlo has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, as well as specialized training in women’s health. For Dr. DuFlo, the gateway to working with moms and babies was opened when she completed HIV and AIDS research on mother to child transmission in Malawi. Following the completion of her doctorate, Dr. DuFlo finished supplementary training related to women's health in Chicago before she opened Indigo Physiotherapy in Baltimore.

During her time with the FIT4MOM team, Dr. DuFlo shared her knowledge of the female body and the common conditions pregnant and postpartum women can face. Read on to learn more, empower yourself, and prioritize your holistic well-being.

It is no secret that women's health and women's issues are often ignored or diminished by society-at-large, and by many contemporary medical professionals in particular. One such time during which this ignorance makes itself astonishingly clear is the postpartum period.

A woman’s pelvic floor consists of three layers of muscles that are weakened and even traumatized during pregnancy and childbirth. In places like France, Australia, and the Netherlands, women are regularly prescribed pelvic physical therapy in order to assess changes and problems in a woman’s pelvic floor. If you think about it - this makes complete sense. Dr. DuFlo offers this analogy: Consider if you had weak or injured biceps; you wouldn’t expect them to just strengthen or heal themselves, you would need to do something.

By contrast, the “norm” for most American women is to have a single doctor’s appointment six or eight weeks after birth, during which we get the all-clear to resume exercise and intercourse before being sent on our way. We receive no holistic postpartum therapeutic care. Dr. DuFlo agrees that many medical providers are well-meaning, but they simply are not always trained asking the right questions (for example, when was the last time your obstetrician asked you if you enjoy sex?).

Following a single postpartum checkup, American women return to the earliest and sometimes toughest days of mothering. During this time and beyond, many women silently experience one or more of the following:incontinence, pain from tearing, abdominal separation, a weakened core, tailbone pain, sciatica, discomfort around c-section incisions, and painful intercourse. Without care, these issues can continue for years and years following childbirth. In fact, Dr. DuFlo has received clients up to ten years postpartum.

According to Dr. DuFlo, some signs and symptomsthat a pregnant or postpartum woman should consider pelvic physical therapy are: a feeling of bulging in the abdomen, leaking of urine, loss of her ability to have an orgasm, pain during intercourse or during a pelvic exam, pain in her perineum, a “falling out” feeling when she uses a tampon, or the feeling that there is a tampon falling out when she isn’t using a tampon.

Perhaps you are experiencing these signs and symptoms, but feel uncertain about what to expectfrom pelvic floor therapy? During a pelvic floor session at Indigo Physiotherapy, clients receive a holistic postpartum evaluation over the course of an hour. During this appointment, a therapist will evaluate the client’s abdominals, rib position, pelvic alignment, pelvic floor strength, and spinal alignment. An Indigo client can expect her practitioner to use a combination of traditional medicine and a blend of Reiki, meditation, therapeutic yoga, and exercise. (Click herefor a complete list of services and techniques provided by Indigo’s therapists.)

According to Dr. DuFlo, there is never a bad time to take care of yourself(we at FIT4MOM Baltimore City definitely agree). Women's health, and pelvic floor issues in particular, often carry unnecessary stigma. It is time to get rid of guilt and shameand to recognize the gap in postpartum care as a public health issue that has the ability to affect the experiences of women everywhere. Through better understanding of our bodies and advocating for pelvic floor care, we not only care for ourselves, we save future generations from years of pain and discomfort.