Pre-Natal/Post-Partum Care

Pre-Natal/Post-Partum Care

A pregnant woman undergoes a myriad of physiological changes, which in turn results in physical changes. However, an understanding of the pregnant body is crucial to adapt to its changing state.

“DID YOU KNOW?” Most physical discomforts that you will experience during pregnancy can be treated with pelvic floor physical therapy. A very common complaint during pregnancy is lower back pain. This is treatable with physical therapy and will include modalities such as proper body mechanics, relaxation techniques, and strengthening exercises for the pelvic floor and core muscle groups. As most of these common complaints carry over into the post-natal period, it is of utmost important for pregnant women to return for physical therapy for specific postpartum care as well

back pain.

Pre-Natal Conditions

First Trimester:

  • Lower Back Pain
  • “Morning Sickness” – Nausea

Second Trimester:

  • Diastasis Recti (separation of abdominal muscles)
  • Lower Back Pain

Third Trimester:

  • Lower Back Pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Low Energy – Fatigue
  • Constipation/Bowel Issues

Post-Partum Care:

Your body is amazing!  And…yes, your body does change after having a baby.

After giving birth, women should seek out a women’s health physical therapist who is trained in the proper exercise, stretching techniques and other modalities. For some women, they will notice changes directly after childbirth that they might not have experienced while being pregnant. It’s great to know that these discomforts can be treated.

  • Incontinence (leaking urine when laughing, coughing and jumping)
  • Diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles)
  • Scarring from C-Section, episiotomy, or perineal tear
  • Pelvic floor weakness
  • Prolapse (or feeling of a bulge or heaviness in the pelvis)
  • Pelvic pain and pain during intercourse

Back Pain:

Lower Back Pain is a common discomfort that very often manifests in the sacro-iliac joints, or lumbo-sacral joint. More times than not, the pubic symphysis is also affected. This postural dysfunction can appear in any of the trimesters and may result in sciatica pain and discomfort.

So What Causes This Pain? The discomfort felt in the lower back and pelvic region is due to postural changes to accommodate the growing baby, ligament laxity, chronic weak abdominal wall and hormonal changes, to name a few.

Treatment Options Available: postural evaluation by a pelvic floor physical therapist who will evaluate your body mechanics, deep tissue massage, stretching, strengthening and other modalities such as ultrasound therapy and low-level laser therapy.

Diastasis Recti:

During and/or following childbirth, women may notice a weakness and separation in their abdominal muscles. A Diastasis Recti is the separation of the rectus abdominis muscle. Many women notice this separation when laying down and lifting their head up. A separation of these muscles of 2 cm or greater is considered significant and will need to be treated. Some factors that may contribute to this condition include weak abdominal tone and hormonal changes. This separation may appear in the second trimester and contribute to lower back pain.

Shouldn’t I Just Do More Crunches? NO! If you have a diastasis of your abdominal muscles, going back to your regular exercise routine may actually make the condition worse.  Pelvic floor physical therapists are trained in specific abdominal strengthening exercises, coupled with proper breathing. With careful healing of your abdominals, you can get back to your regular routine in no time!

Physical Therapy Treatment Includes:

  • Soft Tissue Mobilization
  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Myofascial Release
  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Posture, Biomechanics and Proper Breathing
  • Low-Level Laser Therapy
  • Ultrasound Therapy

Published by Dr. Cora T Huitt

Cora T. Huitt, PT, DPT, BCB-PMD ~Thirty seven years of clinical practice, specializing in women's health for fifteen years. ~BS Degree in Allied Health Professions, Ohio State University, '72. ~Master of Arts in College Teaching (MACT) focus in Physical Therapy & Therapeutic Exercise, University of North Carolina, '76. ~ Doctorate of Physical Therapy, Alabama State University, 2010 ~Attended multiple courses offered in Women's Health Physical Therapy, including Pelvic 1, 2, 3 Course in Women's Health Section APTA. ~Member of VPTA and APTA, Women's Health Section. ~BCIA-PMDB Biofeedback- Pelvic Muscle Dysfunction Biofeedback. ~Certified Pilates instructor, ProHealth. ~Affiliate member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. ~Member of International Continence Society. ~Member of National Vulvodynia Association. ~Adjunct Clinical Faculty for student affiliation at multiple universities. ~Director of APTA Women's Health Residency since 2007, credentialed in 2008. (only other residency at Duke Unviersity)

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