Do not worry if you are a new mom or pregnant woman reading this title. Your pregnancy will end after the third trimester and you will finally meet your bundle of joy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has begun to stress the importance of well-rounded, holistic care for new moms and especially in the first 12 weeks following childbirth. We now call this period of physical, emotional, and lifestyle change the “Fourth Trimester.”
Some of the visions the ACOG has to promote wellness during this period:
- Postpartum care should become an ongoing process to optimize the health of women and infants, rather then a single encounter with services and support tailored to each woman’s individual needs.
- Anticipatory guidance begins during pregnancy with development of a postpartum care plan that addresses the transition to parenthood, women’s health, self-care, and wellness.
- The comprehensive postpartum visit includes a full assessment of physical, social, and psychological well-being.
- Optimizing care and support for postpartum families require policy changes. In the scope of postpartum care, are facilitated by reimbursement policies that support postpartum care as an ongoing process, rather then an isolated visit. (Cite)
Traditionally, a woman sees her midwife or gynecologist for a 6-week follow-up postpartum. At that time, if she is healing well, she will get the “OK” from her medical provider to return to….all of her prior activities!! That includes exercise, sex, and work! Given all the changes the body undergoes during pregnancy and childbirth, it is not always that simple to return to these activities. And, that’s where physical therapy becomes critical for new moms.
Physical therapist’s are movement experts who are well-versed in identifying changes in movement patterns and tissue quality, as well as addressing pain and discomfort. At Andersonville Physical Therapy, you will work 1-on-1 with a physical therapist who understands your concerns and movement goals. They will work with you to transition into your new normal as a mother. In fact, we also have physical therapists who specialize in treating the pelvic floor, which may be critical in your recovery postpartum (and you can check out this article to learn more about pelvic floor physical therapy). Some areas a physical therapist can assist you postpartum include, but are not limited to:
- Identifying and treating an abdominal separation, or diastasis recti
- Addressing pain and discomfort you may be having during nursing or while lifting and carrying your baby
- Return to running or your preferred exercise safely and effectively
- Addressing pelvic floor disorders (pain, weakness, pelvic organ prolapse, leakage)
- Learning what to expect physically as you recover postpartum
Any woman who has given birth will benefit from consulting a physical therapist for a wellness assessment. From there, you and your physical therapist determines what type and frequency of treatment is needed.
We know at this time coming into the clinic may not be an option for all new moms due to childcare and exposure concerns. Please remember that if in-person treatment is not an option for you, that doesn’t mean you are stuck! At Andersonville Physical Therapy, we are continuing our Telehealth appointments for initial examinations and treatments to make sure you receive the postpartum care you deserve even during these challenging times!