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What Does A Child's Pelvic Floor Do?

Hello friends! Yesterday was National Care For Kids Day. While we often think of pelvic floors in adults, especially mamas, kids have pelvic floors, too! Children’s pelvic floors work similarly to adults and they can have problems as well!


Kids can struggle with signs of pelvic floor dysfunction, most commonly bowel (poop) and bladder (pee) problems. Not only do children suffer from these problems, but having these problems is associated with behavior disorders (Morgan, 2019). This not only causes distress for both the parents and child but can lower quality of life (Morgan, 2019).


Bowel and bladder problems often go together with 50% of children with urinary symptoms also dealing with constipation (Morgan, 2019).


Signs of lower urinary tract dysfunction can include: (Morgan, 2019)

  • Strong sudden urges to pee

  • Peeing often, typically more than every 2 hours

  • Daytime urinary incontinence

  • Pain with peeing

The good news? Pelvic floor physical therapy is a safe and effective treatment to help children constipation and difficulty pooping (Zar-Kessler, 2019). One study found that physical therapy can help reduce the number of daytime urinary incontinence episodes and improve the need to strain to poop (Rudophi, 2020).


To find a pelvic floor therapist near you visit www.mypfm.com/find-a-pt.


Pelvic floor therapists use many different non-invasive techniques to help you child improve symptoms. This may include diaphragm breathing, relaxation, mind-body awareness, and pelvic floor muscle coordination training as these are all important for long-term symptom improvement (Morgan, 2019).

Along with addressing any pelvic floor issues your child may be having, this is a great time to talk to your kids about their anatomy. Teaching your children about anatomy and teaching your kids about sex can be two different conversations. Use anatomy terms like vagina, penis, and rectum so that your children don’t feel ashamed of their body parts.


As you teach them about their anatomy, it’s a great time to teach them healthy pelvic floor habits! Here are a few ideas:

  • Don’t push off the urge to poop, even if you are out in public

  • Don’t pee “just in case,” pee when you feel the urge to go

  • Don’t squat or hover over the toilet

  • Breathe


No matter what we are doing, our kids are watching. Setting a good example and starting good bowel and bladder habits, can help stop your children from developing pelvic floor muscle dysfunction as they grow.


Ready to learn more about your pelvic health? Here are some helpful resources:


For providers, join our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!

  • Addressing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Kiddos Part 1: Anatomy, Physiology, and Development with Dr. Fiona McMahon PT, DPT, PRPC

  • Addressing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Kiddos Part 2: Bowel Dysfunction in the Child and Adolescent with Dr. Fiona McMahon PT, DPT, PRPC

  • Addressing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Kiddos Part 3: Bladder Dysfunction in the Child and Adolescent with Dr. Fiona McMahon PT, DPT, PRPC

  • Pediatric Constipation and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction with Dr. Kelly Gibbs, PT, DPT, MA, Board Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist

  • Neuroaffirming Bowel and Bladder Strategies for Neurodiverse Children with Sarah Sidar, OTRL, BCB-PMD-PP-OTD Candidate


Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT


References

  1. Morgan KE, Leroy SV, Corbett ST, Shepard JA. Complementary and integrative management of pediatric lower urinary tract dysfunction implemented within an interprofessional clinic. Children (Basel). 2019;6(8):88.

  2. Rudolphi T, Storm D, Bonnett K, Rich T. The effect of a combined pelvic floor muscle trainng and gross motor strengthening program on urinary incontinence in school-aged children with a typical development: a descriptive retrospective case series. J Womens Health Phys Therap. 2020;44(2):63-71

  3. Zar-Kessler C, Kuo B, Cole E, Benedix A, Belkind-Gerson J. Benefit of pelvic floor physical therapy in pediatric patients with dyssynergic defecation constipation. Dig Dis. 2019;37(6):478-485.

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