Postnatal Physical Therapy

Why New Mom’s Should Seriously Consider Physical Therapy-- 

(Whether this is their first child or their fifth….)



In our last article, we addressed the many benefits of undergoing physical therapy while pregnant. Now let’s talk physical therapy for post-partum mothers. 
(And believe me, you’ll want to read this.)

Pregnancy and delivery are hard on the female body. And it doesn’t end after the baby is born, either. There’s a common misconception that after delivery, the mother’s residual pain will be but a temporary condition—that her body will snap back to a state of pre-baby health immediately and effortlessly. But just think about it: the mother’s body has been stretched, pulled, and twisted at high-speed, high-intensity rates that can tear tissues, separate muscles, impact joints, and create pelvic pain. This is particularly magnified when women undergo episiotomies (a difficult, long delivery) or C-sections, which leave scar-tissue. And she’s just going to snap right back, just like that?


Let’s get real:

  • It’s not uncommon for women to experience incontinence after childbirth.
  • It’s not uncommon for women to have joint pain after childbirth.
  • After childbirth, it’s not uncommon for women to experience painful intercourse.
  • It’s not uncommon for women to undergo a separation of their abdominal muscles, caused from the undue pressure placed on the stomach throughout pregnancy. (This is called diastasis recti.)
  • And it’s not uncommon for women to experience these (and other) types of pain or discomfort for longer than a year plus, after childbirth.
  • * It’s also not uncommon for women to experience post-partum depression after childbirth. (We’ll touch more on this at the end.)

These problems, if left unresolved, can lead to chronic lower back pain, neck, shoulder and hip problems, and even urinary and bowel dysfunction, including: urgency, frequency, and constipation.

Just because it’s not uncommon doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Physical therapists can help manage, treat, and even prevent these, and other, ailments. With their knowledge and expertise, they’ll use myriad treatment options available to address these concerns, from soft tissue mobilization, myofascial release, deep tissue massage, muscle energy techniques, and biomechanics, through to postural education, guided exercises, and module implementation.  (Does that list sound a little like gibberish? Well, that’s the point. PT’s know the body so well they’ve practically invented their own language to discuss it.)

Case in point: you’ve probably heard of Kegels, right? But, do you actually know how to do them? Are you doing them correctly? Performing any exercise incorrectly is liable to create more harm than good. (Psst. Don’t worry. PT’s got you covered!)

Physical therapists can help get mom back into exercise—and slowly, healthily increase her activity levels, again. They’ll use exercises targeted to incorporate mother-baby interaction while also addressing proper body mechanics, from postural education while nursing, to ergonomic awareness when holding and lifting the body, transporting car seats, and even changing diapers. They’ll use hands-on techniques to stretch, balance, and realign sore muscles, nerves and tissues (including scar-tissues). They’ll introduce individualized exercises to help strengthen, tighten, and restore muscles. They’ll help get mom ready for what’s most important: loving that precious baby.

 

*Post-Partum Depression (PPD)

Pregnancy and delivery can affect not only a woman’s physical health but her emotional and mental well-being, too. Recent studies have shown that physical therapy, while not enough to combat PPD alone, can greatly help reduce and diminish the effects associated therein. Exercise has natural mood-fighting agents which release happy chemicals in the brain (think: dopamine, endorphins); as well as that, exercises releases hormones to combat stress and anxiety while simultaneously increasing energy, confidence, and a state of general good feeling.

 

So—If you’ve recently given birth to a baby, if you want to get your body back to its peak pre-pregnancy shape, if you want to stop feeling sore and uncomfortable and like your body isn’t yours anymore, if you want to get back to you, please consider physical therapy as part of your post-delivery treatment plan. We’re here to help.