The Importance of Postpartum Physical Therapy

by Alyssa Wagner, PT, DPT, SFMA-C, Cert. FDN

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1. Restore Proper Breathing Pattern and Posture

Our postural support comes from the abdominal canister of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, internal obliques and multifidus muscles. This canister helps us regulate pressure and support our moving extremities. Throughout pregnancy, pressure in the abdomen increases, the rib cage widens, the diaphragm flattens out and the shoulders and pelvis are drawn forward due to the growing weight of the belly. Restoring proper breathing mechanics will better equip you to manage pressure and improve postural stability for the daily tasks of motherhood.

2. Optimize Deep Core and Pelvic Stabilization

As the baby and uterus grow, the muscles of our abdominal wall are lengthened to accommodate. This is a natural occurrence during pregnancy and can lead to a Diastasis Rectus Abdominus (DRA) after birth. This can contribute to decreased ability to stabilize movements like bending and lifting, even after delivery. With proper cueing and a progression of stabilization exercises, you can re-engage that system to allow DRA to heal and move with ease.

90/90 Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise

3. Promote Pelvic Floor Health and Function

The pelvic floor (PF) undergoes increased pressure during 9 months of pregnancy, in addition to trauma that may occur during labor and delivery. A comprehensive PF evaluation can give us an in depth look at tone, strength and coordination. It’s also important to ensure proper function before returning to fitness because of its role in core stability and transmitting forces from our lower extremities through the pelvis during activity.

4. Strengthen, Stabilize and Empower

A woman’s body endures a lot when it comes to the 9 months of pregnancy followed by the postpartum period. We create changes in breathing, stabilization and movement patterns over that time, so the body also requires time to heal and learn to support the system again. The amazing thing is that our bodies were built to do this and capable of supporting us during every part of this journey. But sometimes, we need a little help to get back on track. That’s why seeing a qualified women’s health physical therapist can be such an important part of the journey – not only to help you return to your fitness goals, but also to help you heal and recover to tackle the demands of motherhood with empowerment and strength.

Posterior Oblique Sling Exercise

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