Bamboo Birth Newsletter: March Guest Article with Kim Blackwell, PT:
Physical Therapy: Getting fit and strong during your post partum recoveryAfter bringing your beautiful newborn home, you have many things to keep you busy- night time feedings, diaper changes, baths, and of course cuddling and getting to know your baby. During this exciting, yet stressful time, one thing that should not be overlooked is taking time for your recovery and focusing on getting yourself strong to prepare you for keeping up with your growing baby. As a physical therapist, I can help guide you in your post partum recovery and help you build your strength to prevent common pains that accompany caring for a newborn.
There are many discomforts that women often experience post partum but the good news is that many of them can be treated with physical therapy. Some of these discomforts include:
· Back pain, often worse with carrying baby, breastfeeding, or lifting the car seat
· Diastasis recti (separation of the abdominals due to pregnancy stretching and/or delivery)
· Painful scars, either from C-section or perineal tearing/episiotomy
· Pelvic floor weakness
· Abdominal weakness
· Urinary or fecal incontinence, especially when trying to lift or return to exercise
· Pelvic pain, including painful intercourse
If you are experiencing any of these discomforts, especially if they are getting worse instead of better, a physical therapist can be helpful to get you feeling better.
The American College of Gynecology recommends that pre-pregnancy exercise routines should be resumed gradually based on a woman’s physical capability. There are many benefits to performing basic exercises within the first 6 weeks, including:
· Increased weight loss
· Improvement in diastasis recti
· Reduction of low back pain
· Improvement in energy levels, anxiety, depression
These exercises may include diaphragm breathing post C-section, pelvic floor strengthening to reduce urinary incontinence, and gentle abdominal and trunk strengthening. Women who breastfeed are also at risk of developing mid back pain and neck pain due to nursing posture. Physical therapy can help treat or even prevent these problems.
Post-partum physical therapy treatments include:
· Hands on treatment: Soft tissue mobilization, deep tissue massage, joint mobilization for alignment and scar mobilization of a healing C-section scar
· Exercises for stretching and strengthening, including yoga and pilates based exercises
· Posture, lifting education and techniques
· Ultrasound, TENS for reduction of pain
· Recommendations on baby wearing techniques and postures to best suit you
· Pelvic floor re-education and strengthening for treatment of incontinence
When seeking out physical therapy treatment, it is important to find a therapist experienced in pregnancy, as well as post partum considerations. If you are also experiencing any incontinence or pelvic pain, find a physical therapist experienced in treating pelvic floor dysfunction. If you feel that PT would be helpful for you during or after your pregnancy, I would love to talk with you. I can be reached at our new CoralWest office at 545-4121 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.Kim Blackwell, PT
Kim Blackwell has worked at Progressive Rehabilitation Associates since 2003 and has been in the women's health field since 2005. Blackwell is currently at the Coralwest location. There are several clinics throughout the Iowa City area. For further information please visit their website: www.praiowa.com
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