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Barre & Babies: how an SPT discovered pelvic health physical therapy

My first job in high school was working the desk at a local, barre-style fitness studio (shout out to you, Pure Barre Youngstown). Little did I know that a “couple hours a week” job would become such a big part of my life and fuel many of my passions today. As I pursued my bachelors in exercise science and now my doctorate of physical therapy at Youngstown State University, I have continued to work at that studio. I started teaching classes there in 2018 and still have the honor of putting on a microphone and leading women through a 50 minute class a few times a week. It was in this space that I developed a love and passion for women’s health, wellness, and fitness. I have had the joy of crossing paths with countless strong, incredible mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and friends each with their own stories and lived experiences.

A common trend that I was finding amongst a lot of these women was that many of them were experiencing urinary incontinence post-partum. Whether that was urinating when they laughed or attempting to jump on the trampoline with their kids or return to high-impact fitness activities, a lot of them were struggling with things they were considering “normal sacrifices of motherhood”.

When I started further researching the possible avenues I could pursue within physical therapy, pelvic health was one that piqued my interest. I began reading articles for assignments and listening to podcasts about pelvic health and quickly found that just because issues like the ones my clients and fellow instructors were experiencing are common, they are not necessarily normal and physical therapy can help!

My interest in this area was further solidified after my older sister struggled with various post-partum issues. A few months after having my niece, my sister was experiencing constipation, extreme pain when passing stool, pelvic and low-back pain. With just 6 visits and the implementation of a home exercise program, my sister was pain free and able to experience all that life with a new baby has to offer!

It was through these combined experiences and continued research into the field that I have decided that pelvic health is something that I would like to further my education in and pursue. In the small, rural town that I have grown up in, I feel as though gynecologic care is becoming more and more difficult to access and there is an overall lack of knowledge about what pelvic health physical therapy is and who it can help. It is my hope that through taking continuing education courses and seeking out clinical experiences that I am able to become a resource for the men and women in my area struggling with pelvic health. I hope to be able to one day help guide new mothers through post-partum changes, assist athletes in return to sport without fear of pelvic floor symptomology, and overall help improve the quality of life of all individuals facing pelvic floor dysfunction.

Author: Jaycie Watt, SPT

Author Bio: Jaycie is a second year physical therapy student at Youngstown State University. She has a love and passion for health, wellness, and fitness. In her free time, she enjoys reading books for fun, finding new coffee shops, spending time with her family and teaching group exercise.

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