Partnering with a PT can enhance motherhood immensely
Who would have thought I (a physical therapist) would need to partner with a women’s health PT to enhance my motherhood experience. I just had my first child in January of 2021 and I thought I was prepared to help myself after the birth process with the confidence of knowing how to treat back pain, neck pain, and how to manage inflammation and pain because of my personal history being an orthopedic physical therapist and seeing these issues regularly. I also had a base knowledge of pelvic health, pelvic pain, and incontinence treatments which I thought was going to be enough, but surprising to me, it was nowhere near enough to combat the changes and issues I encountered in the postpartum healing process.
So many people tell you about how hard everything is with your newborn. The sleepless nights, the crying, the endless diaper changes, but few people tell you how difficult it can be to manage all of that when you have pain in your back and tailbone that prevents you from sleeping when you have the time to or pain in your neck and shoulder muscles from holding your baby and/or body funny while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Now, not everyone has all of these symptoms or has incontinence issues for months to come after the baby, but some people do, and that is ok. I think the one thing I have learned over the last three months, is that as a mom, you tend to put everyone’s needs before your own. In this instance, you have to acknowledge and know when it is time to take the steps to take care of yourself.
When postpartum issues keep you from life
You can’t be fully present in your home, work, and family life if you are constantly in pain, worrying about incontinence, or unable to get restful sleep due to this pain or discomfort. After the first 6 weeks, I felt like I was healing slower than all of my friends that had babies. I knew I shouldn’t compare because everyone is different, but I was getting frustrated with my continued back pain, sacral/tailbone pain, and incontinence issues. I had worked out and lifted weights throughout my entire pregnancy, even the morning I had my daughter, but despite all of that preparation, I still had issues on the back end of my pregnancy.
The issues I had were relatively normal to most pregnancies, but I can’t begin to describe the relief I felt after my first two appointments with a women’s health therapist. We first started talking about how to change my posture. Your body makes many changes slowly over the 9 months you are pregnant to compensate for the size of your growing belly, but once the baby is out, those changes don’t just “snap back” to the original alignment you have. Having someone point them out and teach me how to find my new neutral spine positioning was so helpful. I had such a hard time controlling my core muscles to make that happen, so having one on one cueing to correct these issues truly made all the difference. I don’t think I could have done that all on my own at home, even despite my knowledge and awareness of the problems I had.
When things began to change
As my pain decreased, I was given exercises to start slowly building my core strength back up without causing any further issues to my pretty significant diastasis recti. I also learned that a lot of the muscles in my pelvis were too tight and that was likely causing some of my residual postpartum issues instead of my muscles being too weak. If I just stayed home doing Kegels and core strengthening, I don’t know if my symptoms would have resolved because I wasn’t truly addressing the problem. Knowing that my pelvic floor was too hyperactive and needed to relax made all the difference in reducing my pain and incontinence issues.
Now, after my first experience of childbirth, I couldn’t imagine not having a handful of visits with a women’s health PT. If you can do so, please take the time for yourself to seek out a women’s health specialist and help set yourself up for success. It made such an impact on me and I now realize how important this is now being on the receiving end of treatment that I feel it should be a standard for all postpartum women to help prevent long-term pain and potentially reduce stressors that feed into postpartum depression issues.
Learn more about the Freedom Physical Therapy Women’s Health Specialists and make your appointment today.