How Can Physical Therapy Help Women Recover From Pregnancy?

Childbirth is the most significant moment in every woman’s life. It is an intense and transformative psychological experience that generates a sense of empowerment and new meaning. But for most new mothers, the postpartum period or the few weeks after childbirth can be both physically daunting as well as emotionally stressing. It can be considered as a roller coaster ride with thrilling moments of happiness and joy that are abruptly interrupted by anxiety, body pain, or even depression. 

Body pain or musculoskeletal conditions caused by pregnancy or the birthing process are some of the prominent contributors to depression and emotional stress. Especially because a woman’s body will never be quite the same after experiencing childbirth. They will often find it extremely difficult for their body to get back to normal and sometimes may not even look the same as they did before becoming pregnant.

Moreover, women are usually told that musculoskeletal pain and body aches are normal after pregnancy. Therefore, most women disregard the physical implications and the impact childbirth has on their bodies, only to find that it has worsened over the years down the line.

How Physical Therapy Helps Recover From Pregnancy?

By taking proper care of their health and staying physically fit, women can ensure that musculoskeletal pain does not lead to chronic pain or other severe conditions. Physiotherapy in Richmond Hill is one such effective treatment method that can help postpartum women to recover after childbirth. Despite the numerous benefits of physical therapy, many new moms are still not aware that it is an effective solution to reduce postpartum conditions and recover from pregnancy.

Especially when it comes to reducing the damage to the pelvic floor or ensuring that the body returns to its best shape, physical therapy can play a pivotal role. Initially, the physiotherapist will work with the new moms to identify impairments in the tissues, muscles, nerves, and joints and evaluate the abdominal wall and the pelvic floor muscles. This will help them determine what has changed during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Then the physical therapist will proceed to develop an individualized plan to heal the body and help moms return to their normal function.

A physiotherapist may include different types of exercises and treatment methods, such as:

  • Strengthening exercises, such as Kegels
  • Active & Passive Physiotherapy
  • Manual Therapy
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Postnatal Yoga & Pilates
  • Re-educating the muscles
  • Acupuncture
  • Back care and posture therapy

A physiotherapist will create custom plans and introduce different physiotherapy treatments based on the mom’s condition. Moreover, physical therapy is also considered significantly beneficial for maternal mental wellbeing. Especially because new moms tend to struggle with the fears and anxieties of being a parent, and that can affect their daily life. By including physical therapy and regular exercise as part of their active lifestyle, new moms can not only reduce postpartum body pain but also strengthen their core muscles and overcome depression as well, hence easily adapting to the new transformations their life and body are going through.

Postpartum Conditions That Can Be Relieved With Physical Therapy 

1) Pelvic Floor Issues After Childbirth

Even months after their pregnancy, women can still experience postpartum issues but may not even know it’s related to childbirth. Pelvic floor complications such as urinary incontinence and genital prolapse are some of the common issues that many women face after delivery.

These complications are a result of the alterations in the structure of neurological and musculo-fascial pelvic support such as the decrease in perineal muscle strength and endurance compared with the previous state. Moreover, the stress on the pelvic girdle and the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues can stretch or damage the pelvic floor. This can result in serious discomfort, pain, and functional impairments, and can even lead to loss of bladder control. 

Physical Therapy For Pelvic Floor Issues

Pelvic floor physical therapy is a highly effective and recommended treatment option for women recovering from childbirth. A physiotherapist usually includes multiple techniques and exercises that can ease the symptoms and help women in getting back to their daily routine. These physiotherapy treatments can be helpful in bladder control and can also relieve the discomfort and pain that women may feel during sex. 

The popular techniques that physical therapists include for pelvic floor physical therapy are trigger point therapy, kegels, electrical stimulation, and biofeedback.

2) Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA)

During the pregnancy period, connective tissues called linea alba are stretched in order to accommodate the growing baby. While Diastasis Recti is often painless, it may still lead to abdominal-area discomfort, low back pain, or hip pain, especially in women who have carried multiple babies or those who are smaller in stature. 

Physical Therapy for Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA)

A physical therapist can easily identify the symptoms of DRA by palpating the stomach to assess for any bulging or protrusion.  By this manual inspection, they can determine the location and severity of the abdominal muscle separation. Once the symptoms have been identified and confirmed, a physiotherapist will leverage several different strategies to address the symptoms of this issue.

Some of the most commonly used physical therapy treatments for Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA) are breathing techniques, core strengthening exercises, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), and even bracing. These treatment methods are efficient in strengthening the stomach muscles and can also be beneficial for the lower back, hip, and diaphragm muscles. 

3) Carpal Tunnel Post Pregnancy

Most new mothers expect that they will experience pain due to childbirth only in areas near the hips, abdomen, or even the back. But this is not always the case because post-pregnancy issues can even be found in your arm, hand, and fingers. This common condition affecting new mothers is called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and can cause a sensation of pins and needles, numbness, tingling, or pain in the arms.

This is mainly a result of early postpartum swelling and frequent wrist bending which is required while caring for and feeding a baby. Even other conditions such as arthritis, fractures, or nerve irritation due to repetitive, prolonged wrist movements can cause carpal tunnel post pregnancy.  

Physical Therapy For Carpal Tunnel Post Pregnancy

A Physical therapist will perform an assessment of your wrist, symptoms, relevant medical history, and body biomechanics. The treatment will be based on this initial assessment and may include, posture rehab strengthening exercises, nerve stimulation, taping or strapping for support, nerve glides, stretching, dry needling, and other manual therapies.  

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the core muscles will stretch or the lumbar curve will increase after childbirth. By getting help from a physical therapist, you can establish a detailed diagnosis and leverage custom treatment methods to relieve your body pain. Physical therapy treatments can include exercises, stimulation, at-home stretches, and simple movements, to help restore your health after childbirth.

The physical therapist will help address impairments with the help of specific exercises and soft tissue mobilization to significantly improve your coordination, balance, mobility, and flexibility. Addressing postpartum pain in the earlier stages can help prevent it from becoming a chronic condition and moreover eliminate it from affecting other body parts. By treating and eliminating pain, new moms can be more active during the day and get better sleep at night, eventually leading to a healthier life.

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