Postpartum Physical Therapy at Bridgetown Physical Therapy
Pregnancy is hard on the body. Giving birth does not miraculously restore our body to its former state. So, many women find postpartum physical therapy helps speed general recovery and reduce some specific symptoms.
Postpartum physical therapy helps when you are dealing with:
- Lower Back Pain
- Urinary Incontinence (peeing when you sneeze, for example)
- Diastasis Recti (a lump or tearing of ligaments down the middle of your abdomen)
- Pelvic Pain
- Sexual Dysfunction
- And More
This is not the time to put up with annoying symptoms! Caring for a newborn is challenging enough.
Postpartum physical therapy at Bridgetown Physical Therapy & Training Studio can get you some relief!
Let’s take a closer look at these postpartum conditions and how physical therapy can help.
Lower Back Pain
During your pregnancy, your abdominal muscles stretch, becoming less effective. Also, your lower back curves more (lordosis), so your low back muscles get shorter.
This shift makes it so your core muscles are less able to support your spine, which leads to back pain. Some women have lower back pain during pregnancy, which may persist after birth. Others find their backs feel okay while pregnant, but the pain sets in afterwards.
Add all that to the weight gain, and the effect hormones have on your ligaments. Now it’s easy to imagine why so many women stand with their fists jammed into their lower backs!
If you suffer from postpartum lower back pain, you may benefit from physical therapy with a specialist in women’s health. After a thorough evaluation, your physical therapist customizes a treatment plan to strengthen and exercise the muscles around your spine and pelvic floor.
About 1 in 3 women still pee when they sneeze (or cough or otherwise strain) when the baby is 6 months old. Doing your Kegel exercises helps both the coordination and the endurance of pelvic floor muscles. But there can be more going on if the urinary incontinence persists.
Urinary leakage is common during and after pregnancy because pelvic floor muscles weaken as the uterus grows. Then, when the uterus shrinks back to its normal size, the muscles don’t magically rejuvenate.
Your physical therapist will determine which treatments are best to help you regain control of your bladder.
As your abdomen stretches later in your pregnancy, the tendinous structure running down the middle (linea alba) begins to widen and separate in most women. Almost 2 out of 3 women experience this immediately after giving birth.
The fibrous area starts to thin and widen, becomes weaker and sometimes tears. You may even feel a lump in the middle of your abdomen, especially when you contract your stomach muscles (like you are doing a sit up.)
Physical therapy may include posture control to stabilize your core without overusing the injured abdominal muscles while they heal.
Pelvic floor muscles line the bottom of your pelvis to support your bowels, bladder, and uterus.
While you are pregnant, as the baby gets heavier, extra pressure is on these muscles, so they become lax and less effective. Add that to the trauma of childbirth, and you may find even more relaxing or tearing in the pelvic floor.
Physical therapy can balance the pelvic muscles, aid tissue repair and help with the internal scarring after a cesarean section.
Pregnancy and birth-related damage to pelvic floor muscles may lead to pain during sex or sexual dysfunction, even prolapse or bulging of pelvic organs through the vagina.
Options for Postpartum Physical Therapy
Postpartum physical therapy (PT) may be an effective treatment if you have any of these pregnancy and birth-related conditions.
First, contact Bridgetown PT and make an appointment to talk to a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor treatments. If the therapist feels physical therapy is appropriate, they can customize a program to accelerate your healing.
Dr. Gwen Smith, PT, DPT at Bridgetown PT, specializes in helping you to heal your core and pelvic floor muscles and regain strength. Every woman is unique, so an individualized treatment plan is based on your initial examination.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect at a postpartum physical therapy session?
The first visit is usually a comprehensive evaluation of your current condition. Your physical therapist asks about your symptoms and assesses your abdominal, core, and pelvic floor muscles.
Manual techniques help reduce pain and activate these muscles. A postpartum program typically focuses on improving muscle strength and coordination. Your therapist adjusts the treatments as you get better to maintain improvement levels.
How many postpartum physical therapy sessions will I need?
It depends on the nature and severity of your symptoms. After your initial exam, your physical therapist will share a treatment plan with you and give you an idea of how many sessions you will need. But it still depends on how well you respond to the treatment and how diligent you are with exercises at home.
Pelvic pain often starts to resolve after just five weeks or so, but urinary incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse tend to take several months.
How long after the baby is born do I have to wait before I can start going to postpartum PT?
Most new moms wait for about a month, but you can come in as early as 2 weeks after the baby is born. The worse your symptoms, the earlier we recommend you come in for an assessment. If it is better to wait to begin treatments, your physical therapist will make a plan starting when your body is ready.
What should I wear to a postpartum physical therapy appointment?
Start with something comfortable. Usually, loose-fitting pants are best. You’ll need to move around to assess your strength and flexibility and may practice exercises.
The fourth trimester, the time until your baby is 3 months old, is full of challenges and blessings. Taking care of a newborn keeps you on your toes, but remember to take care of yourself, too. You’ll be able to do more when your body is healed and pain-free.
Contact Bridgetown Physical Therapy & Training Studio today for an initial assessment to see if Postpartum physical therapy is right for you!