Pregnancy is truly incredible. Over nine months your body adapts to grow a whole new person – a process which involves hormonal changes, postural adjustments, and muscle adaptation. Then you give birth and everything snaps right back to where it was pre-pregnancy….right?
Well, not quite.
Things always feel a little different postpartum and that’s because things are different. Your body has continuously adapted for nearly an entire year culminating in labor and delivery, one of the most musculoskeletally demanding events most people will ever endure!
Aches, pains, scar tissue, and muscle weakness don’t always go away on their own. However, you don’t need to live with them just because you had a baby. Let’s explore the benefits of seeing a Physical Therapist trained in Pelvic Health and Postpartum rehab after you have a baby.
Restore Your Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor muscles stretch more than three times their normal length during a vaginal delivery. For some individuals this stretching can lead to postpartum urinary or fecal incontinence, feelings of heaviness in the pelvis especially with exercise, and even sexual dysfunction. Pelvic Floor focused Physical Therapy can help restore muscle tone, length, and strength that has been altered by pregnancy and delivery.
Physical Therapy has been proven as an effective first line treatment for urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, prolapse, and voiding issues. It is also never too late to try Physical Therapy for these issues. While I love seeing postpartum patients as soon as possible after they deliver, I have helped people years after their pregnancies successfully reduce their symptoms.
Get Your Core Strong – No more back soreness!
It turns out that 100% of people will experience diastasis recti (the widening of the space between your abs) at some point during their pregnancy. For some people, this gap naturally closes and tissue healing takes place, while for others this gap remains widened. In order to close this gap, we need to strengthen your inner core muscles to give your pelvis and spine some much needed stability. These core muscles are known to shut off during pregnancy, and sometimes you need targeted, specific exercises to bring them online again!
A qualified Physical Therapist can give you the abdominal exercises needed to strengthen your core while honoring your body’s healing process postpartum, accounting for any vulnerabilities you may have, such as a prolapse.
The majority of postpartum people will have pain associated with their cesarean scar or pelvic scars from vaginal deliveries, and for some this can turn into a long-term issue. At Physical Therapy, we can help mobilize scars to help with pain, feelings of weakness, and sensitivity. Physical Therapy has been proven effective for pain relief, even when scar pain has become chronic.
Return to Activity
If you had knee surgery you probably would wait to be cleared by your rehab team prior to returning to running, right? Well, we should be honoring our bodies postpartum in the same way. Since delivering a baby is a major life event, it’s important for your whole body to return to a baseline level of strength prior to resuming your favorite activities such as weightlifting, running, or High Intensity Interval Training workouts. Strengthening and stability work should focus on your core, pelvic floor muscles, and hips to ensure that your body can handle loads without too much stress on your joints. As a Physical Therapist I want to get you back to doing the things you love without pain, fear, or feeling weak.
If you are postpartum then consider seeing a Physical Therapist no matter how old your child is. Your body goes through so many changes and it is helpful to have a trained eye clearing you for activities and letting you know exactly what to do to feel like yourself again and be the strong family member you want to be.
If you are in the Portland area, give us a call at 503-295-2585 to schedule an appointment to help you with your postpartum recovery. We treat back pain, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary or fecal incontinence or urgency, scar pain, diastasis recti, clogged milk ducts, sexual dysfunction, and so much more!
If you live outside Portland, Oregon, we do offer Telehealth visits which are a great way to get the benefits of seeing a PT from the comfort of your own home! You can also read our blog about “How to Find a Good PT” or visit Pelvicrehab.com to find an experienced pelvic rehab practitioner in your area.