Postpartum Physical Therapy: Benefits, Common Issues, and Finding Local Options
By Dr. Zarina Vitebsky, DPT, MSPT, PRPC, TPS, LPF, DN on 2/13/2024
Postpartum physical therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy that focuses on helping women recover from the physical changes and challenges that occur after giving birth. It involves exercises, stretches, and other techniques to help women regain strength, flexibility, and function in their bodies.
Explanation of Postpartum Physical Therapy
Postpartum physical therapy is a type of rehabilitation that specifically targets the physical changes that occur during and after pregnancy. It can address issues such as pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles), and back pain. The goal of postpartum physical therapy is to help women regain their pre-pregnancy strength and function, as well as prevent future complications.
Importance of Postpartum Physical Therapy
Postpartum physical therapy is crucial for the overall health and well-being of new mothers. Pregnancy and childbirth can cause significant changes in a woman's body, and without proper rehabilitation, these changes can lead to long-term issues such as incontinence, pelvic pain, and back problems. Postpartum physical therapy can also help women return to their daily activities and exercise routines safely and effectively.
What is Postpartum Physical Therapy?
Postpartum physical therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy that focuses on helping women recover from the physical changes and challenges that occur during pregnancy and childbirth. It involves exercises, stretches, and other techniques to help women regain strength, flexibility, and function in their bodies after giving birth.
The main goal of postpartum physical therapy is to help women regain their pre-pregnancy strength and function. This includes addressing any issues or discomfort in the pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, and other areas of the body that may have been affected by pregnancy and childbirth. Postpartum physical therapy also aims to improve overall physical well-being and promote a faster recovery.
There are many benefits to postpartum physical therapy, including improved pelvic floor function, reduced pain and discomfort, increased strength and flexibility, and improved posture and body mechanics. It can also help prevent or address issues such as urinary incontinence, diastasis recti, and pelvic organ prolapse. Additionally, postpartum physical therapy can provide emotional support and guidance for new mothers as they navigate the physical changes and challenges of postpartum recovery.
Who can benefit from it?
Postpartum physical therapy can benefit any woman who has recently given birth, regardless of the type of delivery. It can be especially beneficial for women who experienced a difficult or traumatic birth, as well as those who have pre-existing conditions such as pelvic pain or diastasis recti. Postpartum physical therapy is also recommended for women who plan to return to physical activities or exercise after giving birth, as it can help prevent injuries and promote a safe and effective return to physical activity.
Common Postpartum Physical Issues
Diastasis Recti is a condition where the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy, leaving a gap between the muscles. This can cause a bulge in the abdomen and can also lead to other issues such as back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction. The main cause of diastasis recti is the stretching of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy. It is more common in women who have had multiple pregnancies or carried large babies.
Some common symptoms of diastasis recti include a visible bulge in the abdomen, lower back pain, and difficulty with core strength and stability. It is important to seek treatment for diastasis recti as it can lead to other complications such as pelvic floor dysfunction.
Treatment options for diastasis recti include physical therapy exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles, wearing a support garment, and in severe cases, surgery may be recommended.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic floor dysfunction is a condition where the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues in the pelvic floor become weak or damaged. This can happen during pregnancy and childbirth, leading to issues such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and difficulty with bowel movements.
The main cause of pelvic floor dysfunction is the strain and pressure put on the pelvic floor during pregnancy and childbirth. Other factors such as genetics, obesity, and chronic constipation can also contribute to this condition.
Some common symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include urinary incontinence, pain or discomfort in the pelvic area, and difficulty with bowel movements. It is important to seek treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction as it can greatly impact a person's quality of life.
Treatment options for pelvic floor dysfunction include pelvic floor physical therapy, pelvic floor exercises, and in severe cases, surgery may be recommended.
Back pain is a common issue for postpartum women, as the body goes through many changes during pregnancy and childbirth. The added weight and strain on the body can lead to back pain, especially in the lower back.
The main cause of back pain postpartum is the strain and pressure put on the body during pregnancy and childbirth. Hormonal changes and weakened abdominal muscles can also contribute to back pain.
Some common symptoms of back pain include aching or stiffness in the lower back, pain that radiates down the legs, and difficulty with daily activities. It is important to seek treatment for back pain as it can greatly impact a person's daily life and ability to care for their newborn.
Treatment options for back pain include physical therapy exercises to strengthen the back muscles, using proper body mechanics when lifting and carrying the baby, and in severe cases, medication or surgery may be recommended.
How Postpartum Physical Therapy Can Help
Strengthening and Stabilizing Muscles
After giving birth, many women experience weakened abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to issues such as diastasis recti, or separation of the abdominal muscles, and pelvic floor dysfunction. Postpartum physical therapy can help by providing targeted exercises to strengthen and stabilize these muscles.
Exercises for diastasis recti focus on closing the gap between the abdominal muscles and improving core strength. Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, help to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and rectum. Core strengthening exercises can also help to improve overall stability and prevent future injuries.
Improving Posture and Body Mechanics
Pregnancy and childbirth can cause changes in a woman's posture and body mechanics. This can lead to issues such as back pain, neck pain, and poor posture. Postpartum physical therapy can address these issues by providing exercises and techniques to improve posture and body mechanics. This can help to alleviate pain and prevent future injuries.
Addressing Pain and Discomfort
Many women experience pain and discomfort after giving birth, whether it be from the physical toll of pregnancy and childbirth or from postpartum conditions such as pelvic floor dysfunction. Postpartum physical therapy can help to address these issues by providing targeted exercises, manual therapy, and other techniques to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Promoting Overall Physical and Mental Well-being
Postpartum physical therapy not only focuses on the physical aspects of recovery, but also on the mental well-being of new mothers. The postpartum period can be overwhelming and emotionally taxing, and physical therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment for women to address their physical and emotional needs. This can help to improve overall well-being and aid in the transition to motherhood.
Finding Postpartum Physical Therapy Near Me
Researching local options
One of the first steps in finding postpartum physical therapy near you is to research the local options available. This can include searching online for physical therapy clinics or practices in your area, as well as asking for recommendations from friends, family, or healthcare providers. Pelvic Health Physical Therapy of New Jersey is happy to assist you in scheduling an evaluation and treatment! We are located in Madison, NJ.
Asking for recommendations
Another way to find postpartum physical therapy near you is to ask for recommendations from trusted sources. This can include asking your obstetrician or midwife for referrals, as well as reaching out to other new moms who may have gone through postpartum physical therapy themselves. Recommendations can provide valuable insights and personal experiences that can help you make an informed decision.
Many physical therapy practices have started offering virtual options for postpartum care. This can include telehealth appointments, where you can receive guidance and exercises from a physical therapist remotely. Virtual options can be a convenient and safe way to receive postpartum physical therapy, especially for new moms who may have difficulty leaving the house with a newborn. Can't make it to our center in Madison, NJ? Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Center of New Jersey offers telehealth solutions for postpartum moms!
What to Expect During Postpartum Physical Therapy
During your first visit to a postpartum physical therapy clinic, you can expect to undergo an initial evaluation. This will typically involve a thorough assessment of your medical history, any current symptoms or concerns, and a physical examination. The physical therapist may also ask about your pregnancy and delivery experience to better understand your specific needs. This evaluation will help the therapist create an individualized treatment plan for you.
Individualized Treatment Plan
Based on the results of your initial evaluation, the physical therapist will create a personalized treatment plan for you. This plan will take into account your specific needs and goals, as well as any limitations or concerns. It may include a combination of exercises, manual therapy, and other techniques to help you recover from pregnancy and childbirth. The therapist will work closely with you to ensure that the treatment plan is tailored to your individual needs.
Duration and Frequency of Sessions
The duration and frequency of your postpartum physical therapy sessions will depend on your individual needs and progress. Typically, sessions may last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and you may have multiple sessions per week. Your physical therapy specialist will work with you to determine the best schedule for your treatment plan, and may make adjustments as needed based on your progress.
Types of Treatments and Techniques Used
Postpartum physical therapy may include a variety of treatments and techniques to help you recover and regain strength and mobility. These may include exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor and core muscles, manual therapy to address any muscle imbalances or tension, and education on proper body mechanics and posture. The therapist may also use modalities such as heat or ice therapy to help with pain and inflammation.
Tips for Maximizing the Benefits of Therapy
To get the most out of your postpartum physical therapy, it's important to follow the therapist's recommendations and stay consistent with your exercises and treatment plan. It's also important to communicate openly with your therapist about any concerns or questions you may have. Additionally, incorporating healthy habits such as proper nutrition and staying hydrated can also help support your recovery and maximize the benefits of therapy.
Recap of the importance and benefits of postpartum physical therapy
Throughout this article, we have discussed the various physical changes and challenges that women may experience during the postpartum period. From pelvic floor dysfunction to diastasis recti, these issues can greatly impact a woman's quality of life and overall well-being. However, postpartum physical therapy can provide significant relief and support in addressing these concerns.
By working with a trained physical therapist, women can regain strength, function, and confidence in their bodies after giving birth. This can lead to improved posture, reduced pain and discomfort, and better overall physical health. Additionally, postpartum physical therapy can also help prevent long-term complications and improve recovery time.
Encouragement to seek help and support for postpartum physical issues
It is important for women to know that they do not have to suffer in silence or simply accept these physical changes as a normal part of motherhood. Seeking help and support from a postpartum physical therapist can make a significant difference in their recovery and overall well-being. It is never too late to start addressing these issues, and it is never too early to seek help.
Furthermore, postpartum physical therapy can also provide a safe and supportive space for women to discuss any emotional or psychological challenges they may be facing during this time. It is crucial for women to prioritize their own physical and mental health in order to be the best mothers they can be.
If you’re experiencing pelvic floor dysfunctions associated with the issues above, please reach out to us at Pelvic Health Center in Madison, NJ to set up an evaluation and treatment! Feel free to call us at 908-443-9880 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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78 Main Street, Madison, NJ 07940