By Jillian McGowan - PT, DPT
How often do you bring your baby to the pediatrician following delivery? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends newborns have a check-up at 3 to 5 days after birth and then at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months. Now if I were to ask you how often you go to your OBGYN following delivery, what would you say? Once? Maybe twice? The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recently revised their postpartum care recommendations. Previously, a comprehensive postpartum visit was recommended in the first 6 weeks. They are now recommending that care be ongoing, with the first visit being within the first 3 weeks postpartum. Why? I’m glad you asked.
It’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself once your baby arrives, between feeding schedules, diaper duty, and lack of sleep… but you’ve been through a lot too! Over the course of your pregnancy, your body changes in incredible ways to accommodate your little one and it’s important to give it the strength it needs so that you can be the best mama possible.
During the prenatal period, you may experience some of the following musculoskeletal symptoms: neck pain, back pain, pelvic pain, hip pain, sciatica, etc. If you are currently working, whether you sit at a desk or your job is physically demanding, it is important to maintain proper mechanics and ergonomics to help alleviate these symptoms while at work. And if you are already a mother of young children, knowing the correct way to lift your kids can help avoid further aggravation of these symptoms. Changes in posture and development of muscle imbalances are a normal occurrence as your baby grows in size and hormonal changes can further dysfunction by increasing mobility in your joints and leading to instability. These are changes that carry over into the postpartum period. The good news is that physical therapists are trained in the treatment of these conditions and can provide you with appropriate exercises to correct muscle imbalances, fix your posture, and give you the modifications you need to take care of your baby in a way that is safe for your body.
Physical therapists trained in women’s health can provide you with solutions for even more than musculoskeletal pain. Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that serve to support your bladder, uterus and rectum, maintain continence and are also important in sexual function. These muscles carry a significant burden during pregnancy and delivery often resulting in muscle weakness and sometimes pain. Seeing a physical therapist can help to rebuild the strength and coordination of these muscles in order to normalize bowel and bladder function and eliminate incontinence.
Delivery can also affect you in the postpartum period. Both vaginal delivery with tearing or episiotomy and Cesarean section can result in scar tissue that is painful, affects muscle function and restricts mobility. These areas can be very sensitive after the birth of your baby. Pain with sex is also common following delivery and can last if not properly addressed. Your physical therapist can help determine the underlying cause of your pain, mobilize painful scars and eliminate your symptoms.
There are several countries that offer pelvic PT services as routine postpartum care. Why deprive ourselves of the care and support that other mothers across the globe are receiving without question? Uncomfortable scars, peeing when you laugh and pain with sex shouldn’t be your new normal after pregnancy, but pelvic PT should be. You survived 3 long trimesters, don’t forget to take care of yourself in the 4th!
To learn more about our Pelvic Health program, call or email us today!
1. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Presidential Task Force on Redefining Postpartum Care. ACOG Committee Opinion: Optimizing Postpartum Care. https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Optimizing-Postpartum-Care. May 2018. Accessed June 15, 2019.
2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Periodicity Schedule: Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics for screenings and assessments at each well-child visit from infancy through adolescence. https://www.aap.org/en-us/professional-resources/practice-transformation/managing-patients/Pages/Periodicity-Schedule.aspx. Accessed June 15, 2019.