Prenatal & 4th Trimester Care
Aches and pains during pregnancy are COMMON. . . but they are not NORMAL. When you are experiencing pain during pregnancy (and medical reasons have been ruled out) speak with your doctor about a referral to pelvic floor physical therapy. Instead of accepting “what do you expect . . . you’re pregnant . . .” as an answer to your question about pain and discomfort, educate your doctor that pelvic health physical therapy may be able to help you with your sciatica, low back pain, pubic symphysis pain, mid-back pain and pelvic pain. Pelvic Health PTs can also assist you with preparing for the childbirth experience as well.
In Europe, every women after delivery gets offered 8-10 pelvic physical therapy visits after every delivery. This makes sense. It is common in the US for patients to be referred to PT after knee surgery or back surgery or shoulder surgery – however it has not been common practice in the US to send women to physical therapy after the event of childbirth. Childbirth has a profound effect on abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and it makes sense that these muscles may need some rehabilitation to meet the demands of caring for a newborn (and/or other little ones at home). Separation of Rectus Abdominis (Diastasis recti) is common and can be addressed. Sometimes c-section scars and episiotomy scars/ perineal tear scars may need some rehabilitation as well to be able to return to intercourse without pain. If you have noticed pelvic pressure or urinary or bowel leakage or difficulty with return to exercise after childbirth, these symptoms and concerns can be addressed as well.
The GREAT news is that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology just released a position statement to revamp the postpartum visit, and it is branded as “4th Trimester care.”
The below will need to be addressed within the first 12 weeks postpartum:
- mood and emotional well-being
- infant care and feeding
- sexuality contraception and birth spacing
- sleep and fatigue
- physical recovery from birth
- chronic disease management
- health maintenance
Pelvic Health Physical Therapists with knowledge of prenatal and postpartum concerns are very well poised to address the physical recovery from birth.
Please speak with your OB and request a referral to PT for assessment to determine the best plan of care for you.