Physical Therapist for Pelvic Floor & Pregnancy Issues

Parent Q&A

Nervous about pelvic floor physical therapy Feb 11, 2020 (4 responses below)
Pelvic floor therapy at Kaiser Jan 5, 2019 (5 responses below)
physical therapy for pelvic issues/diastasis? Aug 28, 2018 (5 responses below)
Recommendations for pelvic floor physical therapists Jun 7, 2018 (2 responses below)
Physical therapist for pregnancy Nov 14, 2017 (8 responses below)
Recommendations - Diastasis Recti Physical Therapy May 1, 2017 (4 responses below)
  • Nervous about pelvic floor physical therapy

    (4 replies)

    If you have experience with any of the pelvic floor physical therapists at Sutter, could you please share your impressions of the therapists there? I'm looking for someone who's particularly sensitive to her patients. Thank you!

    Hi I don't know specifically those therapists but I would imagine that they would be super respectful because that's basically what they do. Depending on your needs there could  be many sessions of talking and self-exercises before a therapist would even do an internal exam or assessment. I can recommend the therapists at PHRC but honestly I think anyone would likely have similar training and be lovely. 

    You might like Daphna Ross, who has a private office in Oakland (and Lafayette).  My PPO insurance covered it. You can get more info here: 

    Be aware that Daphna Ross may poke you in the vagina if you do the exercises wrong. Really, she should tell people that this is her method of communication before she starts. Seems like it wouldn't be so bad if patients knew ahead of time. Or, she could just use her words. 

  • Pelvic floor therapy at Kaiser

    (5 replies)

    I have a 1 year old, and after a very long labor, things still don’t feel quite the same. I’m thinking a pelvic floor therapist would be helpful. Does anyone have a recommendation for someone at Kaiser who specializes in these issues? Especially Kaiser Richmond? Thanks!

    The only person I’ve heard of through Kaiser is Rachel Gonsalves in Oakland. In my experience, you have to attend a group class before they will give you an individual appointment. I wasn’t able to attend the class because life is so unpredictable with a newborn so I haven’t gotten an appointment yet but my chiropractor recommended her and hopefully I will get in to work with her soon. 

    FYI that's not how PT referral works at Kaiser.  (You cannot just get a rec and call for an appt like with PPO insurance.)  There is a pelvic floor specialist (wait is 6-8 weeks when I was referred in fall, and there is just one PF specialist), and they are at Kaiser Oakland so you'll have to drive down from Richmond.  Your OB/GYN can refer you to PT - just make sure they write "pelvic floor specialist" so you get the right person.  The specialist can then work out a treatment plan.  If there's a medical reason you need care sooner or can't drive to Oakland you might be able to work the denial of service letter process to get a letter to go out-of-network but that is highly, highly unlikely.   Hope this helps.  (I work for KP so fairly well versed in policy there.)   I would recommend you make an appt with your OB/GYN in-person so they can do the pelvic exam and document the problem.  In my case - there were some other issues going on that needed to be resolved (from my 3 hrs of pushing!) and resolving those actually fixed the problem moreso than the PT!

    consider taking a workshop with Beth Z at léela yoya in alameda. she leads pelvic floor rehab classes and is great! and fun too!

  • Can anyone recommend physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor issues and diastasis recti, and also accept insurance?  Thank you!!

    Alta Bates has two - Julia Chadwick and another whose name I don't know. They work out of the women's center in Lafayette as well as Alta Bate's Oakland office and they do take insurance.

    Not a physical therapist but I’ve really liked an app called Every Mom. It leads you through daily exercises to address diastasis and it’s supposed to be pretty effective. I’m just in the early stages of the program but think it’s really well done. 

    I went to Alta Bates Physical Therapy on Telegraph for this. I forgot my PT’s name but she was great.

  • Hello!

    Following the birth of two children, I have a mild posterior prolapse (rectocele) and my doctor recommended pelvic floor physical therapy. Can you recommend a terrific pelvic floor physical therapist in the Berkeley, Albany, or Oakland area? Additionally, have you found any other helpful resources or approaches?

    Many thanks!


    Ester at Alta bates summit Medical center sports, PT and hand clinic in Oakland (5700 Telegraph ave) Phone 510-204-1788

    She is amazing. I felt totally comfortable with her and she let me bring my baby since I was still on family leave.

    Hello. I've had positive experiences with both the Pelvic Pain & Rehab Center in Berkeley ( and with Sirena Masket ( who is located in North Oakland. Best of luck.  

  • Physical therapist for pregnancy

    (8 replies)

    I am 22 weeks into my second pregnancy. I had diastasis recti after the first which never fully healed. Chasing around (and more to the point, lifting) a toddler, is challenging, and this time around the loosening of the ligaments is killing me. Sometimes it feels like my spine is going to disconnect at my tailbone, and my back spasms so much it takes several minutes before I can stand up straight again. My Kaiser OB wouldn't give me a rec for an OT based on what I was describing, so I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation for a private pay OT who specializes in pregnancy who might be able to give me some recommendations for exercises/ equipment/ strategies to minimize the pain and damage and make recovery later a little easier.

    I go to awaken chiropractic on grand ave in oakland, they specialize in pregnant women and babies, they are life savers!

    I'm sorry I don't have a recommendation for you but I think you want a referral for a PT, not an OT.

    I can't recommend an OT for you, but I just took Mary McQueen's Core Diastasis Repair course through Baby Bootcamp and thought she and her program was really fantastic and helped a lot with repairing my separation. You will have to be post-partum before taking this class, but some of the things you can be doing while you are pregnant is always make sure when you're getting up from lying down that you do a log roll out of bed, or off the couch, don't use your abs to jack yourself up sit-up style. Roll onto your side and use your hands to push up from there. That's huge. Also, when picking up your toddler, get low, bring them in close and your your legs to stand--basic healthy lifting. Also, limit your twisting. 

    I would also recommend you get a low belly support band to go around your hips and support your growing belly. That helped me a lot. And I worked with a cranial sacral therapist named Tomi Knutson who really saved me during my pregnancies. I had terrible sacral issues to the point where it felt like I was being electric shocked if I moved wrong and Tomi was able to help realign things in a few sessions. Cranial sacral is extremely gentle and not at all like chiropractic. You just lay down and the therapist uses different gentle holds under your spine to help your body realign. It really seems like magic, but it works and it felt much safer than chiropractic. 

    Good luck!

  • I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations of a physical therapist that can diagnose, and provide therapy for diastasis recti?

    I'm one year post-partum, and workout regularly. I didn't even know what diastasis recti was until a friend mentioned it a few weeks ago, and warned me that I should be careful about the core exercises I do. I googled, and read up on it. I did the lying on the back self-diagnosis, and think that I am actually ok. I don't really have any pooch, and that I don't have more than one of two finger separation, but who really knows.

    I don't usually over worry about things, but I don't want to go back to my normal workouts if they could potentially harm me so I thought I would get a professional to evaluate me, and hopefully get the okay to go back to my normal workouts. 

    Anyone have any experience with this, or can recommend a PT?

    Anna Shapiro is not a PT but is an excellent Pilates trainer certified in Pre-natal/Post-natal Pilates including diastasis repair.
    She helped me with a long term diastasis I had (from years earlier). There are specific exercises to repair it.

    Less then 2 finger width separation is not considered severe diastasis. It also depends on how deep the separation is.
    If it's more then the 1st knuckle, there is more to be concerned about.  It might be worth at least talking to Anna and 
    maybe having a session. You want to be really conservative about forward flexion (ie: sit ups). Ab/core strengthening
    exercises can be done on hands and knees....planks are a great example.
    Give Anna a call, 510-621-8746. 

    i'm about 10 months postpartum and just found out i also have it from a friend who is a yoga instructor who checked me. (why don't our OBs screen for this?!) i also have about a 2 finger separation. i made an private appt to see my pilates instructor who gave me some exercises to do to help close the separation. she also told me a few things to stay away from in yoga. here's a website she sent me with things you can do during your day to work on it.

    i'm sure any good PT could advise you on this. it's not really that your workouts will harm you, but that you won't close the separation and that just makes any pooching there worse. if you have only had one baby, it may not seem like such a big deal, but after a second pregnancy it could get worse so i would do the exercises and try to close is as much as you can now. 

    You might be fine then. Not everyone gets it. Most of the yoga teachers I have had post-partum have checked me. If you want to be sure I can recommend my PT, Amy Selinger, who has been really great for other issues I have had during pregnancy and post-partum. Her practice is called Back to Life and she is in Oakland and SF.

Parent Reviews

Glow in Oakland does post-partum massage, see their services and resources pages Otherwise I would see a pelvic physical therapist for post-partum healing and support. They would probably recommend belly binding and do tissue work post-partum. Two key places for that are Pelvic Health and Rehab in Berkeley (doesn't take insurance) and the Women's Health Center in Lafayette (need referral from primary care Dr. or OB and takes insurance) There are also independent ones around, you can check the Herman and Wallace website

Alison at Reclaim Pelvic Therapy ( is the most amazing pelvic PT ever! I don't think she does belly binding but she's so incredibly knowledgeable about all things pregnancy and postpartum related. She was a lifesaver during my second pregnancy when I had some SI and sciatic issues. Unfortunately she's in Lafayette but I'd drive ten times that far to see her. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Physical therapist for prenatal lower back pain

Dec 2012

Hi, I just found out I am 6 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child. I have severe lower back problems that gave me trouble during my previous pregnancies to the point where I couldn't quite walk. I am a member of Kaiser, but have been unimpressed by their PT and am willing to go outside the network. So I have a few questions: 1. Does anyone have a PT at Kaiser or elsewhere who specializes in dealing with pregnant women? I am looking for someone amazing and understanding. 2. If you had lower back problems during pregnancy, what helped you? Did anyone do acupuncture? If so, did it help? Where did you go? Thanks for your help! nicole

There is prenatal physical therapy that is specifically geared towards prenatal and postpartum women at ProBalance in Alameda. It is worth it to get help from a specialist with advance prenatal and postpartum experience and this place has it! 510-523-1900 ext 55 There are also Pilates classes/sessions for maintenance and fitness after your physical therapy is complete. Suzanne

Awaken chiropractic in Oakland! They work with a lot of pregnant women and it really helps! The initial diagnostic was somewhere around $150 and each appointment was $55 thereafter and I found it to be really helpful in pregnancy. Swimming helped too! Good luck! Akat

Hi, I recently started going to SOL to deal with some nerve pain in my arm, which needs to heal before I give birth in May. They list pregnancy lower back problems specifically in issues they treat, though I am not sure if they have a specialist per se. The PT I have been seeing, Bryan, is truly amazing. He approaches my arm problem holistically, and is knowledgeable about what shifts in a woman's body throughout pregnancy, how we hold ourselves differently, as well as the typical physiological issues new mom's deal with (i.e. neck and shoulder problems from how we pick up and hold our newborns). He's also helping me with lower back pain that is increasing as my belly size does. He does mobility testing, hands-on muscle release, and strength training in every appointment with me. I have been very satisfied and am seeing results! They have offices in Oakland and Walnut Creek. Syd

Physical therapist for pelvic/lower back pain and hands

March 2011

I'm looking for physical therapists (preferably in Berkeley/Oakland) to continue work with my hands and pelvic/lower back. I'm currently treating with two different therapists at Standford but would really like to find some that are closer to where I live. The only complicating factor is that I really need physical therapists that either specialize in or are very familiar working with people experiencing chronic neuropathic and myofacial pain conditions and the hypersensitivity that often accompanies such conditions. If anyone happens to know of any I'd be really grateful for the referrals. Thanks. NS

Did you try Alta Bates outpatient physical therapy at 5700 Telegraph? Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Physical, Sports and Hand Therapy 5700 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609 (510) 204-1788 I saw Esther Dolowich for pelvic floor work (she is amazing), and they have PTs working with hand injuries right outside. Call and ask if they have the experience you're looking for. anon

If you are looking for a Physical Therapist, look into Physical Therapy Innovations. They have offices in Oakland, El Cerrito, and Orinda. Theire website is here: Happy with PT

Try Edie Murphy at Lakeview Funcitonal Rehab Center in Oakland. She is excellent, and has helped me through several serious injuries, incuding pelvic pain and shoulder surgery. When the problem started, I tried quite a few physical therapists, and can say with some experience that Edie's competence and experience really stands out. Myofacial pain is part of many physical problems, and she definately works with it. For the neuropathy, it would probably be best to call and see what she says - she has a lot of advanced training, so it's quite possible that she has worked with this. (510) 451-5560 Pat

Dear NS: You will be oh so happy if you seek treatment at Avery and Associates in Oakland. I can personally recommend Linda (the owner) and Leigh, both of whom saw me extensively for low back & pelvic floor work. I received excellent treatment and saw truly amazing progress in my body thanks to their help. The women at this office are amazing human beings as well as being gentle, skilled, knowledgeable, kind, trustworthy, and just all around great. As a lovely bonus, the office is beautifully decorated, which adds to feeling comfortable and relaxed. I saw your post this morning, and happened to go there this afternoon for a cranio-sacral treatment (they also offer massage and Feldenkrais), so I asked the receptionist if the PTs focus on myofascial pain, and she said that they do! Please give them a call. You really won't be sorry. They are at 3000 Webster St. Suite 402 Oakland 94609. Their website isn't very complete, but don't let that deter you one bit: I wish you health and pain reduction. Caryn

Edie Murphy is a fantastic physical therapist. Between us, my husband and I had seen probably a dozen physical therapists for a variety of problems (elbow tendonitis, neck and shoulder problems, lower back and hip pain) before we found Edie, and she is hands down the best. Edie has an impressive knowledge of the human body and is a gifted body worker. Sessions are usually a combination of assessment, body work, and review of a specially crafted set of exercises to do at home. I don't know for sure if Edie has experience with your specific conditions, but I would highly recommend at least calling and speaking with her. Edie Murphy (510) 451-5560 Happy PT Patient

I have been to many physical therapists in the past for my back and ankles. Deena Levy at Move Easy PT is the one person who has been able to help a persistent SI (lower back) problem that no one else could figure out. She sees you herself for a full 60 minutes in a completely private office, which is very different from a group practice where you might see an assistant in a large gym filled with patients. Fascinated by the body in motion and at rest, she is a dancer and also volunteers to help dancers understand how to move well to avoid injury., 540-7816. Reba

I highly recommend Em Squires for anybody with chronic issues. She is gentle and knowledgeable, and has done better things with/for my pelvis than anybody I've ever seen. She has her own office on Grand about a mile up from Lake Merritt; she spends a full hour with you (and will let the session run over if it's what your body needs). I have seen countless PTs and chiropractors over the past couple of decades, and nobody comes close to Em in terms of sensitivity to the wholistic nature of body function and dysfunction. You can schedule an appointment with Em at Em's phone number only shows up on the website once you've made an appointment. If you'd like to talk with her first, you can email me directly I'll put you in contact with her. n.n

Physical Therapist for strengthening pelvic muscles

Oct 2008

Prolapsed Bladder - any recommendations for physical therapists who can mend/strengthen muscles. I'm not interested in surgery. thanks for your help

For pelvic floor problems, the greatest doctor/phys therapy team is Dr. Jerome Weiss in S.F. See here for info: Great doctor, great staff! joanna

I have the same issue and have been working with Avery and Associates on Pill Hill. They are very knowledgeable, and make you feel comfortable. I have had some success with the treatment (has been going on for 8 weeks now), but if you are breastfeeding, be prepared for this to take a long time to get better. Best of luck! Sister in suffering

Try Leigh Hollowell, one of the PT's at Avery & Associates on 3300 Webster St, Oakland, CA. 510-451-6020. She is licensed to do pelvic floor therapy. Good luck! rosie

Linda Avery and Associates is a fantastic PT practice that specializes in women's health issues. They greatly helped me with rather substantial pelvic floor issues. While, ultimately, I will probably have to have surgery down the road, they provided me with lots of information, exercises etc. to slow the process and make an educated decision about my physical status. I highly recommend that practice! saggy yet strong!

i've posted about liz rummer at the pelvic health and rehabilitation center in the past. my mother saw her for a different, extremely bothersome issue, but - knock on wood - is cured at the moment. i believe she sees patients for a variety of pelvic issues. liz is in sf at 2000 van ness.

I posted a similar question a while back, seeking a physical therapist and a personal trainer who could help with nonsurgical options for my uterine, bladder, and rectal prolapse. Maybe the moderator could check the responses, because I've lost them! [Editor: See Jan 2008 question, below]

I ended up doing PT with Esther Dolowich at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center on Telegraph in Oakland. I think the number is 510-204-1788. Once she's taught you the right way to do them, the exercises themselves are pretty minimal (different variations on the Kegel), but the lifestyle and behavioral education was useful. Good luck! Droopy

Check out ProBalance Pilates and Physical Therapy for a Women's Health therapist. They are on Park St. in Alameda and the phone number is 510-523-1900. anon


Pelvic floor reconditioning

Jan 2008

I was just diagnosed with various pelvic organ prolapses (uterine and bladder) and my OB gave me a referral to see a physical therapist to recondition my pelvic floor. (Public service announcement: when they say ''Do your Kegels,'' they MEAN it! I'm only in my 30s and my OB is already talking hysterectomy because all my pelvic organs are drooping out of my body.)

I need two things:

1) A PHYSICAL THERAPIST. The person my OB recommended is a pelvic floor specialist (Esther somebody), but she isn't available until March. There are two physical therapists who treat postpartum issues mentioned in the archives (Suzanne Koval and Em Squires). Does anyone have experience working with any of these three women? Any other great PTs I should look into?

2) A PERSONAL TRAINER. I made my prolapses worse by doing Pilates incorrectly on my own, so I've decided to treat myself to some one-on-one training. Someone who specializes in postpartum issues in general, and the pelvic floor in particular, would be awesome, but I'm open to any recommendations.

Thanks so much! -- Droopy

Linda Avery and Assoc is a fantastic practice! They specialize in pelvic floor, and other ''women's issues''. Each PT has their own sub-niche of specialization, and they are all wonderful. Good luck with your prolapse issues. Even if they can't ''fix'' everything, they will be able to give you lots of great information (that all women should know), and help you to decrease your symptoms. been there, done that!

Try Helene Byrne for post-partum reconditioning. She used to run these classes 2x/week for 8 weeks - it worked fabulously after my first child. She stopped running the classes by the time my 2nd came around, but she did visit my house for a private session one time. She has a website: and a book by the same name. Good luck! Sharon

I recommend Andrea Kennerley at Optimum Pilates in Montclair for pilates. She is great with pre and postnatal issues and is very knowledgeable about pelvic floor issues. I had a lot of pelvic floor problems (leaking when i coughed, etc) and she has helped me immensely with that. also, i have scoliosis and the exercises she has given me have been really helpful at making my back even and keeping the scoliosis from progressing. Anyway, i cannot say enough good things about my experience with her- she is really kind and supportive. she is at no longer embarrassed when i cough

I recently worked with Esther Dolowich at Alta Bates Physical Therapy, on pelvic floor and tailbone issues, who may be the same Esther your OB recommended? In any case, she was fabulous: very knowledgeable, very encouraging, very patient. She was also very good about explaining the relevant anatomy to me at just the right level -- not overwhelmingly technical, but not dumbed down either. And so far her treatment and exercise program has kept me pain-free where other solutions have failed. I highly recommend her! No more pain in the (...)

you should call and make an appointment with either liz rummer or stephanie prendergast at pelvic health and rehabilitation center in sf. they are in the medical arts bldg. at van ness and jackson. the therapy they do has made a huge difference for my mother, who had a different problem, but felt hopeless after seeing countless specialists for over a year. she said just the other day that they mentioned working with a lot of postpartum women. their website is: good luck

Em Squires is very good. I would recommend you at least go talk to her she will make you feel very comfortable. Of course if you can afford it she doesn't bill insurance. I would also recommend looking into some complimentary alternative treatments. I had a similar but not the same kind of problem and accupuncture can also really help. i would do it all at the same time. If think with these kinds of problems you really need to dedicate some time to it and then really be on top of it working on it all the time for a little while. Hope that helps