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Physical Therapy During Pregnancy and Recovery after Childbirth

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By: Kellie Dushner PT, DPT

“Pregnancy is a magical time in a woman’s life, which is filled with love, understanding, and nine months of pure bliss”….said no woman ever. To be clear, pregnancy truly is a wonderous event, but in order to grow that perfect little bundle of joy, the body certainly has to take a beating.

Pelvic floor physical therapy is a valuable tool to help women both prepare for the process of childbirth and to speed recovery postpartum. The rapid changes that the body goes through over a nine month period can lead to pain and dysfunction within the musculoskeletal and neurological systems. The increase in weight and pressure placed upon the pelvic floor can also lead to dysfunctions such as urinary incontinence and constipation.

 

And to answer the question that everyone wants to ask, having a cesarean does NOT protect you from developing pelvic floor dysfunction later in life. Whether you had a natural delivery, cesarean, forceps assisted, etc, they all involve trauma to the pelvic floor. And while pelvic dysfunction is not always blatantly obvious immediately after birth, small soft tissue restrictions or coordination deficits can worsen overtime and contribute to chronic pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, and/or fecal incontinence.

Here are a few examples of some common complaints that many women report:

  • Sacroiliac joint pain
  • Low back, hip, and leg pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Pelvic and perineal pain
  • Incontinence
  • Constipation

Here is a brief description of ways that a pelvic floor PT can help address these issues:

  • Provide pain relief in perinatal and postpartum periods
  • Instruction and education on general safe exercise
  • Instruction and education on specific exercises to the pelvic floor and core musculature
  • Positioning strategies to reduce pain and stress on the body and joints
  • Management of scar tissue following cesarean birth
  • Addressing postpartum incontinence and/or pain with intercourse

It is important to point out that pregnancy does not need to be a painful process. If you are experiencing any persistent body aches or pains, it is best to have them addressed early on with a pelvic floor physical therapist. Muscle pain which develops during pregnancy does not always diminish immediately after giving birth.

If you have more questions about pelvic floor physical therapy, please feel free to reach out to our office to speak with a therapist who can help you determine if you may benefit from pelvic PT.

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