Physical Therapy Assists in Postpartum Exercise

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Becoming a mother is one of the most incredible experiences a woman will face throughout her life. With all the excitement that comes with being pregnant and caring for a newborn, it’s important to remember that exercise will help your body in tremendous ways. Not only is the rate of back pain, pelvic pain, and other discomfort lower for women who exercise regularly throughout their pregnancy, but recovery times and weight loss are greatly effected by postpartum exercise as well.
As physical therapists, we recommend you focus your initial postpartum exercise routine on two main areas which may have been effected most–the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. A caesarean does not prevent you from exercising these areas, however, those who have had a caesarean should remain comfortable throughout the exercise routine. If you are experiencing pain, you may be exercising too soon, too hard, or incorrectly and will want to seek assistance from a medical professional.

Pelvic floor exercises (commonly referred to as kegels), and abdominal bracing (gently contracting your abdominal muscles without holding your breath), can begin immediately after delivery regardless of whether you’ve had a vaginal or caesarean. These exercises can be performed while lying on your back, knees bent and feet resting on a firm surface (see photo). Hold each exercises for five seconds, release and repeat five to ten times three times daily. Your physical therapist may recommend different types of pelvic and core stability exercises, including some that focus on endurance and strength building. Strengthening these muscles can assist in urine leakage, supporting the abdominal organs, improving sexual satisfaction, and daily tasks such as lifting and carrying your newborn without discomfort.

Should you have questions or issues with your exercise program, a physical therapist can help by showing you the proper way to exercise to relieve issues such as low back pain, pelvic pain, incontinence, and carpal tunnel syndrome. The goal of treatment is to minimize your current discomfort and reduce the risk of future occurrences to allow normal function during daily activities.
wellness resizedGina Otterbein and Janis Kemper are licensed Physical Therapists and Co-Owners of Northern Physical Therapy.  Northern Physical Therapy has five west Michigan locations, with therapists specializing in women’s health and fitness. More information can be found at www.northernpts.com. Photos courtesy of Northern Physical Therapy.

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