Prental & Postpartum Care
Prenatal & Post Partum Care
There are many natural changes your body goes through to grow a baby. It is common during pregnancy and even after, to have pain or discomfort related to these changes.
Late in pregnancy, as the baby continues to grow, there is increased stress to your body to accommodate these changes. Many of these aches and pains are common, but physical therapy can help to provide you with relief. Manual techniques, such as stretching and massage may relieve discomfort. Physical therapy exercises include self-stretching, as well as exercises to increase strength and stability through the hip and shoulder girdle. We can also look at your movement patterns, and help you to move more efficiently, with less stress to other joints.
It takes 40 weeks to grow a baby, and takes just as long for your body to return to your pre-baby body. And even then, your body will still be different. Because it grew a baby, which is amazing! Many therapists (including ME!) feel that physical therapy should be required after having a baby, and even before your next pregnancy.
There is weakness in the core and pelvic floor postpartum, and can sometimes create pain in the hips, low back and groin. Changes to the pelvic floor muscles and vaginal canal from carrying the baby and then delivery can create pain in the pubic bone/tailbone/vaginal area, symptoms of incontinence and pain during intercourse. As you care for your newborn, some of the postures you are in from supporting the head and feeding can create excess stress to the shoulders and neck. If you have had a C-section, that is a major surgery and deserves the proper rehabilitation!
If you aren’t where you want to be with your strength and function, or you are having any persisting pain see a physical therapist.
Treatment is Available for:
- Dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
- Diastasis Recti (abdominal split)
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse after Pregnancy
- Low Back/SI Joint or Neck Pain
- Postural changes creating low back, hip or neck pain
- Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Restless leg syndrome/leg cramps
- Abdominal pain/discomfort related to muscle stretching
It is estimated that each year, more C-sections are performed than shoulder, hip and knee surgeries combined. They are just as invasive (if not more) than other orthopedic surgical procedures that are routinely sent for therapy. And unfortunately, these women are rarely sent for physical therapy.
Physical therapy can help with early movement patterns (transfers, stair climbing), and education on caring for a new baby post surgically (squatting, lifting mechanics). Bowel habits are also important, as any constipation or excessive bearing down will increase stress at the incision site.
Post surgical massage at the incision site once it has been healed helps to reduce pain and improve breathing patterns. Physical therapists can also prescribe specific exercises to address core and pelvic girdle strength in the postpartum months as appropriate.
There is weakness in the core and pelvic floor postpartum, and can sometimes create pain in the hips, low back and groin. Changes to the pelvic floor muscles and vaginal canal from carrying the baby and then delivery can create pain in the pubic bone/tailbone/vaginal area, symptoms of incontinence and pain during intercourse.
Dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
It is very common postpartum to have discomfort, or even pain with intercourse (formally known as dyspareunia). It can happen after either a vaginal or a cesarean delivery.
While this is common, it is NOT normal. This discomfort should resolve within the first few times of returning to intimacy. It is not OK for the pain to persist, or even worsen.
Physical therapists are trained in manual skills, patient education and home programs, pelvic floor specific stretching and relaxation, and other self management skills to help resolve this pain.
Current research suggests that 100% of women will have a diastasis recti after their pregnancy. This means that after your pregnancy you are going to have an abdominal split. Most of these go unnoticed and resolve on their own. But sometimes they do require a little more TLC.
If you are concerned about the size of your split, or if you see domming from that area with functional activities, refer to your medical provider. Physical therapists are trained to assess these, and to teach you how to appropriately strengthen and stabilize to improve your movement and activities.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse after Pregnancy
Symptoms include heaviness or bulging in the lower abdomen, pelvic area or vaginal, and urinary frequency or difficulties emptying.
Symptoms can worsen with constipation (chronic pushing) and with poor pressure management (bearing down) with lifting and squatting.
Strengthening of pelvic floor and supporting muscles, learning proper body mechanics to care for infants (hello car carrier!!)/household chores and better breathing patterns with activity can help to improve discomfort from a prolapse..
Pregnancy Series Videos: Safe exercises to work your core during pregnancy
Pregnancy Series Videos: Pelvic Floor Exercise
Pregnancy Series Videos: Safe Stretches during Pregnancy
Pregnancy Series Videos: Benefits of exercising while pregnant