By Dr. Ashley Wozniak, PT, DPT.
Did you know that postpartum Physical Therapy is standard care in many European countries – but hasn’t yet become mainstream health care practice in most regions of the U.S.?
If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, you may or may not already know that a Physical Therapist can be a valuable part of your pregnancy and postpartum care team. I’ve found that many women today are asking: What can a Physical Therapist who specializes in women’s care and wellness do to help me – both during pregnancy and in the postpartum period?
It’s much more than kegels and pelvic floor exercises, though that’s also part of what a Physical Therapist can help with. Here are 5 different aspects that can help make for a more comfortable, healthy pregnancy and postpartum.
1. Prepare you for physical changes.
When you have a strong understanding of the physiological changes that your body will go through during pregnancy, that knowledge can potentially help reduce or even prevent common symptoms of pain that many women experience. Physical Therapists provide education around how your body mechanics will change during pregnancy and help you plan to safely adjust your everyday movements.
2. Assess your unique pregnant body.
A Physical Therapist who specializes in women’s care during pregnancy can assess aspects like mobility, flexibility and pain-related issues. If you’re dealing with a specific type of pregnancy-related pain or symptoms, such as back pain, hip pain or pelvic pain, they evaluate to uncover the root cause and provide treatment. Therapists advise on how to adjust your everyday movements to help reduce your pain.
3. Provide a more proactive approach to wellness.
Studies have shown that women who incorporate pregnancy-appropriate fitness and exercise can take a more proactive approach to their overall health during pregnancy. Staying as healthy as possible during pregnancy is also a proactive way to reduce the risk of being diagnosed with certain conditions such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
4. Design a plan for your physical healing after the birth.
Most OBs and midwives don’t see you again after the 6-week postpartum appointment (when many women are typically “cleared” to exercise) – but that doesn’t mean the postpartum healing journey is complete! It’s smart to schedule a postpartum appointment with a Physical Therapist – who can help women put together a plan for healing parts of their body that may have been stretched or lengthened by pregnancy and the birth process. This includes any pelvic floor healing (vaginal tearing, episiotomy or Cesearean scar healing) as well as healing diastasis recti, where the abdominal muscles are separated during pregnancy and remain apart afterward.
5. Create a path to safely return to exercise.
The path to true core and pelvic floor healing starts with a solid foundation of learning how to breathe properly, coordinate movement with your core and pelvic floor, and how to correctly manage pressure within your abdomen during exercise. A Physical Therapist guides you progressively through this foundational work all the way back to doing whatever exercise you enjoyed prior to pregnancy – while helping you continue to heal your core and pelvic floor without causing pain or worsening any current issues (such as pelvic floor issues or ab separation).
Share your goals
What are your wellness goals for your pregnancy or after you’ve given birth? Would you like to experience a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy? Would you like to return safely and confidently to a fitness activity you enjoyed prior to pregnancy?
Talk about your pregnancy or postpartum goals with our Physical Therapist, Dr. Ashley Wozniak. Learn more about our studio, wellness programs and Physical Therapy offerings at www.inspiredmaternity.com.
Inspired Maternity is a one of a kind Pregnancy and Postnatal Health, Wellness and Fitness Studio located in Peoria, Ill. We offer in-studio prenatal and postpartum fitness programs and Physical Therapy assessments throughout the calendar year, as well as virtual options and telehealth visits.