Physical Therapy in Postpartum Care

Having a baby most certainly earns you the title superhero, but if you are having issues feeling like “yourself” in your body after having a baby, you are not alone.  Traditionally women have shared postpartum issues with each other and been told, “This is what happens when you have a baby”.  Urinary incontinence, diastasis recti, lower back pain, pelvic pain, and pelvic floor dysfunction are all issues many women believe is just part of becoming a mother.   We are here to tell you that you do not need to accept postpartum issues as part of your new life as a mother, and that physical therapy can help.  Physical therapists can play a fundamental role in postpartum care for mothers for a range of issues.

In an article published by the American Physical Therapy Association, Valerie Bobb, PT, DPT, ATC, director of the women’s health program at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas, Texas says “Research has shown that for 80% of women, if pain or urinary incontinence hasn’t resolved itself 3 months postpartum, it’s not going to,” she says. A study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found, for example, that among women who reported having urinary incontinence at 3 months, “76.4% reported having it at 12 years.”  This is a good reason not to ignore your postpartum issues and seek help quickly.  Having a baby does not mean you have to live with pain, especially because these issues are treatable with physical therapy.

Unfortunately, the body is also subject to pain during pregnancy.  If you experience pain during pregnancy, you should not wait to get help until after your baby is born.  In physical therapy we treat women experiencing sciatica, back, neck, hip and shoulder pain all throughout pregnancy.  Seeing a physical therapist during your pregnancy can help with labor, delivery and postpartum experiences.  Diastasis Rectus Abdominis, also known as DRA, is a very common condition that affects many women during their childbearing years.  It is a condition caused by the 2 sides of the abdominal muscle separating and is often responsible for numerous pregnancy related issues.  DRA itself is not always painful, but the effects of it can cause pain.  The American Physical Therapy Association suggests that physical therapists can help treat DRA with postural training, stretching, bracing and education.

Virtually all insurance companies cover physical therapy and often no physician referral is required. There are a number of affordable options to help you relieve your pain. Physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts and our job is to help anyone living with pain or discomfort and many groups have designed specific programs to relive and treat pregnancy related changes.  AGPT’s women’s health physical therapy experts can help you improve your core strength and gain pelvic stability so you can embrace your new role in motherhood without physical inhibitions.