Easy answer: as soon as you want! Generally we wait 6 weeks postpartum to begin pelvic floor physical therapy. However, this applies to assessing and treating the pelvic floor muscles only. There are other regions of the body (hips, spine, shoulders, etc.) that are affected during pregnancy and the birthing process which can affect your posture, strength, stability and mobility. These areas can also relate to pelvic floor dysfunction. If they are evaluated and treated with corrective exercises, then it may decrease your risk of experiencing current or future pelvic floor symptoms.
So what do we look at and what do we assess? This depends on when you start PT and what symptoms you are experiencing. Typically we evaluate your abdominal wall to address the diastasis recti (abdominal separation) that occurred during the third trimester. We teach you how to reactivate your core and hip musculature surrounding the pelvic girdle. We also teach you how to properly facilitate your pelvic floor muscles (the beloved kegels!). Additionally, we assess your spine for positional faults and imbalances that may be contributing to back, hip and pelvic floor pain postpartum.
What do you do for home? We prescribe gentle repetitive exercises that will begin to reactivate and facilitate muscles that may have lost coordination and motor control during pregnancy and following birth. And we instruct on proper lifting mechanics and provide education on posture and body mechanics for daily activities and breastfeeding.
It is important to remember that you were pregnant for many months. Birthing a baby, whether vaginally or cesarean, is a tremendous event to the body. So we need to begin with a gentle rehab process with respect to what your body has accomplished. This means a gradual return to activities under the guidance of a qualified physical therapist.
To learn more about how PT can help you during and after pregnancy, click here
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.