Prenatal care for expectant mothers is provided automatically. However, after the baby is born there is seldom any assistance to help mom return to her pre-baby state. In Physical Therapy world, we think every new mom deserves post-natal care! This was understood centuries ago, when postpartum care was given to mothers and newborns in India in the form of massage.
It is still a good idea today. If you are expecting a baby, here are reasons to continue with professional care after you have your baby:
1. Get your body back faster — Carrying a baby distorts the actions of your core muscles from the abdominal wall, back, respiratory diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles. For instance, a separation of the abdominal wall, known as diastasis recti, can lead to back problems. This can be helped with proper rehabilitation. A physical therapist specializing in pelvic health can help you on the road to recovering your body sooner and preventing future problems.
2. Prevent organ prolapse. The effects of carrying the baby, delivering the baby and the ensuing lifting and carrying baby after delivery can contribute to dropping of the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, and rectum). This is correctable with the proper exercise and guidance. As much as one third of surgical repairs of bladder prolapse fail, and this may have to do with the need for behavioral and muscular retraining. A physical therapist specializing in pelvic rehabilitation may help prevent the need for surgery in the future, in this early post-partum stage.
3. Restore normal bowel and bladder function. It is not uncommon after having a baby to have some problems with urinary or fecal leakage. Physical therapists can help you correct this through behavior and muscle retraining.
4. Return to sex with less pain. We get very little guidance on how to return to sexual intercourse after having a baby. A physical therapist can give you some tips to avoid pain with intimacy.
5. Address pain before it becomes a constant. Postpartum can mean continued back, hip, pubic and sacroiliac joint pain. A busy mom may put her own pain aside to meet the demands of new motherhood and all its responsibilities. It is important to address pain right away. There is no need to suffer. If a c-section was necessary, addressing the scar tissue can help prevent future problems as well.
If you don’t learn how to correct some of these issues, they can follow you for decades! Consider including post-natal Physical Therapy care as part of your health care in the pregnancy, birth and post-partum experience.