“Bouncing Back After Baby” a phrase you’ve probably heard constantly during pregnancy. But what does this entail? As you probably know by now, it’s amazing what your body is capable of. But unfortunately, postpartum bodies are not perfect. Muscle weakness, posture changes, and healing tissues can lead to aches, pains, and impaired function. Luckily physical therapy is available to help women during and after pregnancy with many of these new changes and challenges.
Why All New Moms Should Have Physical Therapy
Research shows that 90% of women experience low back pain during pregnancy, and almost 75% of women report having low back pain after delivery.
Sometimes this back pain can become chronic and can interfere with daily activities including picking up, feeding, or caring for your child. Unfortunately, the pain will not just magically go away.
Only 32% of women who have pregnancy low back pain report it to their care providers. And of those who report pain to their providers only 25% of these women get treatment for their low back pain. This means a huge number of women are not getting any treatment or professional help for their physical problems after having a baby.
So why aren’t more women getting physical therapy after pregnancy? Their bodies just went through a huge change, they may have had surgery, and their physical demands have increased since they now must take care of a newborn.
Common Postpartum Problems
Abdominal Separation (Diastasis Recti):
When we are pregnant our uterus and stomachs grow as the baby grows. This new growth can place extra pressure on the tissue that runs down the middle of your abs. The added pressure can lead to a separation of your abdominal muscles known as diastasis recti. Untreated diastasis recti can contribute to low back pain, pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, and other issues in our body.
As a physical therapist, we can assess and provide proper treatment to help heal diastasis recti.
Cesarean Section Scar Healing:
One in three women have a cesarean section which is a major surgery in which several layers of the abdomen are cut open. Although it varies in the amount of scaring you may have after surgery, a physical therapist can perform and educate you on different scar mobility and massage techniques so you can have a successful recovery.
Low Back Pain:
Pregnancy related low back pain is the most common problem we see during and after pregnancy. Due to changes in the body’s structure and posture during pregnancy many muscles and ligaments can become stressed out and irritable. The core muscles are often weak so there is a lack of stability which can further contribute to pain in the back.
Upper Back and Neck Pain:
Upper back and neck pain is also often present postpartum. Upper back pain is reported in about 43% of postpartum women. This again is due to muscle imbalances and your posture while holding baby, feeding baby, and more.
There are numerous other things a physical therapist can assist a new mom with after having a baby. Other impairments that often need to be addressed are posture, gait, breathing patterns, body mechanics, and potentially nerve pain.
How Physical Therapy Can Help New Moms After Pregnancy
There are numerous ways physical therapy could help a woman after pregnancy.
A few examples include:
- Help aid appropriate healing of C-section scars/incisions
- Education on body mechanics and positioning techniques to improve function and prevent pain
- Provide specific techniques and exercises to heal and strengthen the abdominal muscles which can help postpartum moms retrain the deep core muscles to work effectively and appropriately
- Assess posture, breathing patterns, and gait mechanics for correctness and efficiency
- Evaluate and treat low back pain. Possible techniques include massage, manipulations, and appropriate exercises.
- Provide an individualized treatment plan for safe return to exercise
Everyone’s pregnancies and birth stories are different so there is no one size fits all treatment for new moms. An individualized treatment session with us would allow our therapist to look at your specific needs and come up with solutions specific to your issues.
If you would like to set up a free 20-minute consultation to talk one-on-one with one of our physical therapists about your postpartum aches and pains, give us a call at 989-573-8588 or click here to fill out a short form and request an appointment.