After pregnancy it is common for women to be told that they are cleared for exercise after 6 weeks. Unfortunately, there is often not much more guidance provided at that time. This is where physical therapy comes in! Regardless of the type of birth and even if you are not experiencing pain, every woman should ask their OB for a referral to physical therapy. Pregnancy and delivery cause considerable stress on your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles as well as adaptions in breathing mechanics. While these adaptations are normal and important during pregnancy, they can linger in the postpartum phase causing prolonged diastasis rectus abdominus, leaking with exertion, or back/pelvic/hip pain. A physical therapist will assess your breathing pattern, your ability to engage your abdominal muscles, and your connection with your pelvic floor muscles. Working with a physical therapist after having a baby (even years later) can significantly improve your abdominal strength and help you safely return to activities you enjoyed prior to your pregnancy.
During pregnancy your body undergoes an incredible number changes to support to the growing fetus. Unless you are specifically restricted by your doctor, it is important to stay active and maintain strength throughout pregnancy to decrease the likelihood of suffering from pregnancy-related pain. Due to hormonal and physical changes, such as increasing joint laxity and a change in your center of mass, it is common for pregnant women to experience back, hip, and/or pelvic pain. A physical therapist can help guide you through safe exercises to improve core and hip strength in order to improve stability and decrease pain. In addition, a physical therapist can ensure you are moving and lifting with proper mechanics, recommend external supports if necessary, and help you prepare for birth!