Promoting Effective Recovery from Labor

PERL Project

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About PERL Project  

  1. What is the purpose of the study?
  2. Who can participate in the study?
  3. What benefits will I get from participating in the study?
  4. How much of my time will the study require?
  5. What tests are done at each clinic visit?
  6. Will the study harm my unborn baby?
  7. How can I enroll in the study?

What is the purpose of the study?

Three self care practices; pelvic muscle training, prenatal perineal massage, and spontaneous pushing during birth, show promise in preventing birth-induced pelvic floor injury.  Our study will evaluate each of the three self care practices to determine its benefits to the pelvic floor.  Hopefully our results will change current practices in the delivery room and lead to healthier pelvic floors after delivery and decreased urinary incontinence.

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Who can participate in the study?

You are eligible to participate the study if you 

are 18 years or older
are generally healthy
are expecting to deliver your first or second baby
are less than 20 weeks pregnant
have no history of urinary incontinence (involuntary urine loss)
are planning to deliver your baby at the University of Michigan Medical Center 
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What benefits will I get from participating in the study?

Participants in the study will receive

$260.00 for completion of the study
training on how to correctly perform pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels)
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How much of my time will the study require?

This study includes four clinic visits at the University of Michigan School of Nursing (400 North Ingalls) clinical exam room 2191.  Each visit is about one hour long.  The first visit occurs when you are 20 weeks pregnant.  The other 3 visits occur after the baby is born (6 weeks after birth, 6 months after birth, and 12 months after birth).  Prior to each visit  you will be asked to record the amount of liquids you drink daily and the number of times you urinate or accidentally leak urine for 3 days.  Finally, you will be asked to keep a daily log of the number of times you do pelvic muscle exercises for a 6 week period.

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What tests are done at each clinic visit?

The following procedures will be done at each clinic visit to evaluate the pelvic floor muscles

Paper Towel Test
You will be asked to do a series of activities (such as coughing or straining) to see if the activity causes you to leak urine on a paper towel that you hold between your legs.
Modified Vaginal Exam
The clinician will insert two fingers into your vagina to feel the pelvic floor muscles and assess their strength and control. Measurement of the pelvic structures will be made.
Speculum Exam
The clinician will place a closed pediatric speculum into your vagina.  This speculum is smaller than those normally used in annual pap exams and it does not open.  It is connected to a computer and will record the pressures exerted on it during different activities.
Leak Point Pressure
A small catheter (about the size of a computer mouse cord) will be inserted into the vagina and will measure pressures during coughing and straining.
Ultrasound
An ultrasound transducer will be placed externally on the perineum so the bladder can be viewed.
Urine Stream Interruption Test
You will be asked to stop and start the flow of urine.

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Will the study harm my unborn baby?

There are no serious risks to you or your baby associated with participation in the PERL project.  We have conducted this study for 5 years with no adverse effects to mother or baby.  

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How can I enroll in the study?

You can enroll in the PERL study by

calling us at 734-763-0666 or 734-4-4544
completing the contact information on the Contact Us web page
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Revised: July 29, 2003 .