Physical Therapy for Post-partum Care

There is no doubt that the body goes through extraordinary changes during pregnancy. Labor and delivery further add to the stresses your body has to endure and it can be hard to know where to start on your path to recovery. Muscle weakness may be something, in particular, you would like to address.

At Freedom Physical Therapy Services, we offer specialized services to help women recover and regain strength after pregnancy. We will create an individualized care plan to specifically address your impairments, depending on what kind of delivery you had. This article will help you understand the importance of Physical Therapy for post-partum care.

Cesarean Birth Recovery

Cesarean birth is a major abdominal surgery that needs at least a 4-8 week recovery period. It can be difficult taking care of a newborn during this healing time. We can provide suggestions for positioning during baby care, feeding, and lifting to help reduce and manage discomfort. We will also work with you to help improve abdominal muscle strength and stability.

Vaginal Birth Recovery

There will be increased perineal pain and pelvic floor tissue recovery required after vaginal birth. There will also be abdominal muscle weakness due to the overstretching of these muscles during pregnancy.

Postpartum Abdominal Strengthening

The primary muscle to activate and strengthen postpartum is the Transverse Abdominis (TrA). This deep abdominal muscle wraps around the trunk like a girdle and supports the trunk and back. To feel this muscle activate, place your fingers along the inside of your hip bone and say the word “hut” loud and fast 5x in a row. You can also expand the belly outward as you breathe in and on the exhale contract the belly inward and feel that muscle tighten.

Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic tilts are a great way to tap into this muscle. Laying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the bed, imagine your belly as a clock face. Gently tilt the pelvis back towards you, pulling your belly button in at 12 o’clock. Your back will slightly flatten against the bed. You can also perform these tilts seated on an exercise ball. 

Additional Strengthening Exercises 

Other exercises are helpful to support posture and reduce pain. Perform each of these can for 2 sets of 10 repetitions: 

  • Scapular squeezes: Squeeze your shoulder blades together and away from your ears. This can help prevent forward, slumped posture. 
  • Hip abduction: Standing upright at a counter, bring one leg out to the side away from your body while keeping your toes pointed forward and then return to your start position. 
  • Hip extension: Standing upright at a counter, bring one leg behind you while keeping your knee straight. Be aware not to lean your body forward or arch your back. 
  • Sidesteps: In a slight squat position with your hips and knees bent, tighten your stomach to support your back, and walk sideways down a hallway. 
  • Sit to stands: Sit at the edge of a chair with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your back straight, hinge forward at the hips, and stand up, pressing through your heels. Tighten your stomach during this to add some core stability. Sit back down slowly and repeat. 

*An exercise program is safe to begin after the incision site has healed for cesarean birth, there is no longer bright red vaginal discharge after a vaginal delivery, and a physician has cleared you for exercise. 

Whether you are days postpartum or decades postpartum, there is always something we can do to help your symptoms. Our women’s health specialists at Freedom Physical Therapy are ready to help you feel confident, strong, and happy with your postpartum self!

Caroline is a skilled orthopedic therapist specializing in treating the pelvic floor and many other conditions.