The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #49: Healing After Childbirth

In the first episode of our Sex & Parenthood series, Dan Savage and Jane Marie agreed that any parent who isn’t ready to have sex within the first year of parenthood should get a pass. But what if that year comes and goes, and you’re still in pain from a childbirth injury? (Psst! if this is you, we hope you’ll send us a question for our Google Hangout next week! Details below.)

LST listener Sadie gave birth 10 months ago and had a severe tear.

Sadie's family one minute postpartum

Sadie’s family one minute postpartum

Sadie's family now

Sadie’s family now

Sadie’s gotten mostly better but sex is still painful enough that she has to talk herself into it every time. In this episode, she describes the physical and mental impact of her injury, and her reluctance to look for help because she’s afraid of being told that this is a good as it gets.

Dr. Hollis Herman

Dr. Hollis Herman

Sadie actually has a lot of options—there are many different kinds of specialists who treat childbirth injuries. One possibility: pelvic floor physical therapy. Yep, physical therapy for your pelvis. And just like a sports physical therapist can help get a basketball player back on the court, a pelvic floor physical therapist can help get a mom back in the sack. We talked to Holly Herman (left), one of the field’s pioneers, to find out how.

Tune in to get the nitty gritty on why your body can feel so beat up after childbirth, how it can be fixed, and Holly’s surprising tip on what to pack in your go-bag for the hospital or birth center. (I promise, nobody else has told you this one!)

How to find a pelvic floor PT
If you want to try out pelvic floor physical therapy, you can find a certified therapist through the Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute, which Holly founded, along with her colleague Kathe Wallace. You can also go to the American Physical Therapy Association.

Books on healing your pelvis
Holly’s favorite books for understanding childbirth injuries are Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein, Healing Painful Sex by Deborah Coady, and Sex Without Pain by Heather Jeffcoat. She also likes Penny Simkin’s When Survivors Give Birth for moms who have survived sexual abuse and other vaginal traumas.

GOOGLE HANGOUT: Streaming live right here on Tuesday, February 10 at 2pm ET
We know that lots of you are just grinning and bearing it through the pain. Or maybe not even grinning. That’s why we’re doing a Google Hangout with pelvic floor physical therapist Debra Goldman, who studied with Holly Herman. If you’ve got a weird pain that won’t go away—from a tear, an episiotomy, or a C-section—or you can’t stop peeing your pants, or it hurts every time you poop, tell us. Really, there’s nothing that will faze Debra. Just leave us a detailed comment about how you got your injury and what the problem is now. Anonymous is fine. We’ll pick our favorite comments, and Debra will explain what might be going on, and how typical injuries can be healed. If you miss the live stream, the video will be archived here, too.

We thought you might want to get to know Debra a little bit before the Hangout, so we asked her to put together a list of her favorite home remedies for pelvic pain. Think of it as your starter kit to a pain-free sex life.

Seriously, tell us what’s up with your pelvis.
Have you gotten help? Been too overwhelmed or scared to even try? If so, what’s hanging you up? Let’s talk, people. There are too many hurtin’ pelvises out there, and they’re not gonna get any better unless we start talking about this stuff. Go.

Top illustration: The Open University