Our health system does a wonderful job of ensuring a safe gestational period and delivery, however does very little in caring for women following childbirth. Our society even considers the common pathologies experienced during and after child birth as “normal” because well, “you just had a baby”. Although the myriad of challenges that follow giving birth are common, they are not necessarily normal. The good news is physical therapists who specialize in women’s health are an invaluable resource in providing postpartum physical therapy to help women recover from the rigors of child birth.
How Can Physical Therapy Help After Giving Birth
Ob/Gyn Physicians are the go to for pre-natal care and delivery, however they may not be trained to address musculoskeletal implications that come with pregnancy, labor, and C-section delivery to the extent of a women’s health physical therapist. These symptoms can range from urinary/fecal incontinence to pelvic and low backpain. Here are just a few ways physical therapy can help:
1. Diastasis Recti: Diastasis recti is the separation of the rectus abdominal muscle. This can contribute to low back and pelvic pain. A physical therapist can assist in reducing this separation through abdominal soft tissue mobilization, specific strengthening exercises and breathing techniques.
2. Incontinence: Incontinence is involuntary loss of urine or feces. Weak or overly tight pelvic floor muscles can contribute to these symptoms. A physical therapist specially trained in pelvic floor physical therapy can perform a pelvic exam to assess the strength of your pelvic floor muscles. Exercises can then be prescribed to help strengthen or relax the pelvic floor muscles and muscular support around the pelvis. Behavioral/dietary habits may also be influencing symptoms. A physical therapist can make the appropriate recommendations and work with your dietitian, physician or functional medicine practitioner to provide the best outcomes.
3. Pelvis and Low Back Pain: Pelvic, low back pain and pain during sex are common symptoms during and after pregnancy. Contributing factors can include weak and/or tight muscles, improper biomechanics, new stresses and inadequate sleep while caring for your new baby. A Women’s Health Physical Therapist can determine the contributing factors to your symptoms with a thorough examination and work with you to establish a treatment plan including exercise, manual therapy and education.
4. Post C-Section: Scar tissue can cause adhesions that prevent adequate movement of your tissues and contraction of muscles. This can lead to pain and weakness. Once your scar is healed a women’s health physical therapist can help safely mobilize your scar to reduce and prevent adhesions. Benefits can be achieved from scar tissue mobilization even if your surgery was decades ago. These techniques can be taught so you can safely perform them at home in conjunction with your physical therapy treatments.
Post-partum physical therapy as part of standardized treatment is extremely important to women’s health. CoreWorks Physical Therapy is here to help you regain your pre-partum self. If you recently had a baby or are a veteran mother, it is never too late to address your symptoms with a women’s health physical therapist.
Call us atif you have any questions or would like to schedule an evaluation with our trained women’s health Physical Therapist, Ashlee Richardson, PT, DPT.