You don’t need to be injured or in pain to seek out physical therapy! Here are a few things a pelvic PT can help you with during pregnancy and postpartum.
Exercise Guidance during pregnancy
Staying active during pregnancy is extremely important for both mother and baby. There is a lot of info out there, and it can be confusing to know what is right for you. A physical therapist can provide guidance based on your specific body, your prior level of activity and any issues you may be dealing with.
Protection for your pelvic floor during pregnancy
Your pelvic floor is responsible for a LOT during pregnancy. It is responsible for controlling pressure in your abdomen (something continually changing in pregnancy), bowel and bladder function, sexual function and much more. A pelvic floor PT can teach you how to keep your pelvic floor healthy during the changes of pregnancy- from simple breath control and cueing, to a more in depth examination of the pelvic floor tissue with clearance from your OBGYN.
Protection for your abdominal wall during pregnancy
A frequent question I get from my pregnant moms is- how can I prevent Diastasis Recti? Diastasis Recti is a separation between the right and left halves of the abdominal wall. This has to happen during pregnancy to accommodate the growing baby. Issues can come about when that separation remains long into the postpartum period. A PT can teach you to maintain abdominal control throughout the pregnancy and teach you what to look for when you may be putting too much pressure on your Linea Alba ( the connective tissue that gets stretched with diastasis recti). This will help to prevent unnecessary force on the abdomen which can lead to pain, over stretching and potential weakening of the abdominal wall.
Perineal tissue massage
Studies have shown that massage to the perineal tissue (area between the vagina and anus) can help prevent severe tearing during birth. A pelvic PT can teach you how to massage this area to improve blood flow and prep the perineal tissue for the birth process.
Your PT can help you learn how to properly push so when the time comes during birth, you have practice and know how to generate the proper force. Your PT will also go over different pushing positions to allow you to have the best knowledge of your own body going into the delivery stage.
Labor is a lot of stress on the body. Your PT can talk about ways to prepare for the process by controlling your heart rate and managing discomfort with breathing techniques and exercise.
Aches and pain alleviation
So often aches and pains are considered to be normal parts of the pregnancy process. A PT can evaluate your body to determine if it’s a simple muscle weakness or postural asymmetry that’s causing the pain. Oftentimes, pain can be treated or prevented with simple exercises. This can help you to stay active and healthy throughout the whole pregnancy.
Postpartum pelvic floor or abdominal rehab
The abdominal wall and pelvic floor often go through trauma in the labor and delivery process. In ANY case when body tissue ( muscle/ connective tissue) is damaged, proper rehabilitation can ensure that your body heals well, and normal function is restored. Trauma post birth is no different! Your PT can help you recover from the birthing process (vaginal delivery or C-section) with manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and guidance on how to take care of your body in those first few weeks postpartum.
Postpartum activity guidance
That 6 week appointment has always been the gold star for clearance to get back into exercise, but what does that mean? What is the definition of exercise? In the 6 weeks immediately following delivery, you are still doing a lot. Taking care of a newborn is also a lot of work on the body. Your PT can help you with functional movements such as squatting, bending and lifting to protect your body as it recovers from the birth. They can guide you with cueing and movement strategies to gradually get back into movement so “exercise” doesn’t seem so daunting.
Postpartum return to higher impact exercise
Exercise can look very different to different people. Some people want to get back into yoga, while others want to get back to crossfit and running. Your physical therapist can help assess how your recovery from birth is going and give you step by step guidance to get back into whatever exercise you prefer( safely of course).
These are just a few things your physical therapist can help you with in the pregnancy and postpartum periods. If you have more specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. There are plenty of resources that can help mothers along this journey. No need to go at it alone.
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