I would argue that most, if not all women, would absolutely benefit from physical therapy during and after pregnancy. Your abdomen and your pelvic floor undergo significant trauma throughout the 9-month pregnancy and birthing journey. Your muscles are stretched, atrophied, cut through, and scar tissue forms.
When you have surgery on almost any other part of your body (i.e. total hip/knee replacement, ACL surgery, rotator cuff surgery, etc), you are also opened up and cut on, sewn up, and sent to several weeks or even months of physical therapy following in order to rehab that part of your body. You often return to your MD for a 3-week, 6-week, 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year follow-up.
However, after you have a baby, most women will only return to their OBGYN for a singular 6-week follow-up to be cleared for return to “normal” living. So why are the deep core and pelvic floor muscles treated any differently from the ones that are being referred to PT for so long following orthopedic surgeries? These muscles go through the exact same, if not more, trauma.
There is also often very little education on how to get back to what your “normal” may even look like pre-pregnancy. When will I be able to run again? When can I lift weights again? Why am I peeing every time I cough or jump now? These are all questions that a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you navigate.
When you look at the healthcare system for most European countries, it is a standard of care for women to receive pelvic floor physical therapy during and after pregnancy. In France, any person who delivers a baby is given 10 free pelvic floor physical therapy sessions following to address pelvic floor health and to prevent issues such as pain, prolapse, and urinary incontinence.
Having physical therapy after birth should be the bare minimum standard of care in our healthcare system. However, if we are truly striving for the best outcomes for our patients who fall into this category, we cannot stop here. Pelvic floor physical therapy during, after, and even before, your pregnancy can improve the outcomes of your birth and decrease risk for dysfunction profoundly. Some of these benefits may include the following:
Benefits During Pregnancy:
- Relieve musculoskeletal pains
- Improve/maintain muscular strength, flexibility, mobility
- Improve/maintain cardiovascular health
- Manage gestational diabetes
- Preparation for labor and delivery
- Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
- Promote optimal fetal positioning for birth prep
Benefits After Pregnancy:
- Restore core strength and stability
- Manage urinary incontinence
- Alleviate postpartum pains
- Reduce diastasis recti
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Create an individualized plan of care for return to fitness
At Activcore, we can help you navigate through your pregnancy and postpartum journey, as well as provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to keep you moving your best.
Need help? Contact me at Activcore Druid Hills to get started now
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.