Many women may not know how helpful a physical therapist can be in helping them recover pelvic health after giving birth. Recently the American College of OB/GYN recognized the importance of physical therapists and encouraged doctors to refer women as needed. Postpartum physical therapists can work with women to deal with many conditions, including lower back pain, sexual pain, incontinence and more. Services are not covered by all health care plans but it is worth checking (with both your plan and the individual provider). Some providers also offer services on a sliding scale fee.
One common but not well-known postpartum problem is known as diastasis recti. This is when the abdominal walls which expand during pregnancy do not come back together. Some symptoms include sexual pain, low back pain, poor posture, and feelings of flabbiness in the abdominal area. Click here to read more about this condition. Note that the pre-pregnancy abdominal exercises you’re used to for tightening up your core can actually worsen the condition, so it is important to make sure you know how to exercise those muscles safely and effectively following childbirth.
The American Physical Therapy Association has some good resources about common postpartum problems and how physical therapists can help. Click here to read about incontinence, here to read about pelvic pain, and here to learn about postpartum exercise strategies.
In addition to physical therapy, occupational therapy also offers focused treatment services for pelvic floor problems.