Women’s Health Physical Therapy After Childbirth
After childbirth you may notice changes that were not present during pregnancy, including the following:
- Back pain, tailbone pain or leg pain
- Diastasis recti (your abdominal muscles separating)
- Scarring (of the belly or episiotomy)
If you notice any of these occurring, or any other new body changes that are affecting your daily life, ask your physician for a referral to physical therapy.
Tips to help you feel your best postparturm:
Continue performing Pelvic Floor Strengthening (Kegels)
How to find the pelvic floor muscles:
- Squeeze and lift the muscles around the vagina and anus together, as if you are trying to hold in gas. No one should be able to tell you are doing this. Try to keep your buttocks, thigh muscles, and all other muscles as relaxed as possible.
Be mindful of proper body mechanics:
- Keep your back slightly arched and bend your knees when lifting your baby or other objects.
- Before standing or lifting, contract your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles and continue to breathe.
- When feeding your baby sit up tall and straight; do not lean into your baby.
- Support your baby during feeding by using pillows.
- Carry only what’s needed in your diaper bag.
Strengthen your abdominal muscles:
- Avoid sit-ups, curl-ups, or crunches for at least 6 weeks.
- Watch out for the separation of abdominal (belly) muscles (this is called a “diastasis recti”).
- When the abdominal muscles are separated they cannot function efficiently, and this can contribute to low back and pelvic pain.
To check yourself for a diastasis recti:
- Lie on your back and place your fingers on the center of your belly just above your belly button.
- Slowly lift your head until your shoulder blades are off the bed and feel how many fingers you can insert between the belly muscles.
- If you have a separation of two or more fingers talk to you doctor about starting physical therapy or using a belly binder for support.
C-Section and Episiotomy Scar Massage
Once your sutures are removed or dissolved, you can begin to gently massage your incision areas for 2-3 minutes per day. The direction of massage can be towards your toes, towards your face, side to side, and circular movements. On C-section scars, cocoa butter or vitamin E oil is recommended to soften the scar. Pain should dissipate, but if it does not, please ask for a physical therapy referral for further assessment.