If you’ve ever given birth, you know just how much effort you have to exert physically to pop a baby out (and how much damage it can do to your lady parts). But new research has found that childbirth—and injuries that can come with it—are similar to what intense athletes go through.
Scientists from the University of Michigan studied nearly 60 pregnant women who were at risk for pelvic muscle tears during childbirth and discovered that the way postpartum pelvic injuries are often treated is all wrong. (The results were published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.)
Researchers used MRI scans to diagnose childbirth-related injuries and healing time and found that injuries were related to the muskoskeletal system (all of our bones, muscles, joints) and of a much greater magnitude than experts previously thought.
Here’s what happened to the women they studied:
• Twenty-five percent of the women had fluid in their pubic bone marrow or fractures similar to a sports-related stress fracture.
• Sixty-six percent of the women had excess fluid in their muscles, which is similar to a severe muscle strain.
• Forty-one percent had pelvic muscle tears (with the muscle detaching partially or fully from the pelvic bone).
• Fifteen percent of women experience pelvic injuries that don’t heal.
Doctors usually prescribe Kegel exercises for women who suffer from postpartum pelvic pain, but those won’t reattach muscles to bone. Meaning, you could do Kegels 24/7, and they may not do jack to heal your pelvic pain.
Before you swear off having kids entirely, keep this in mind: The study followed a group of women who were at a high risk for a pelvic muscle tear, so obviously they were more likely to go through intense injuries. Researchers say that most injuries (yup, including fractures) heal within eight months.
But if you’ve had a baby and feel like Kegels aren’t helping things, it might be worth seeing a specialist to find out what’s really going on down there.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com