Caring for Prenatal and Postpartum Moms Through Physical Therapy
Written by Dr. Tori Wilson, PT, DPT and the ReQuest PT Team
When we think about health in new moms and moms-to-be, what do you think of? We know that monitoring vital signs, providing nutritional support for the baby, and helping moms learn to care for their new child are important. However, it is easy to overlook the mental and physical health of the moms. There are a number of physical and emotional changes related to pregnancy that can often occur. Keep reading to learn how physical therapy can help you or someone you love during or after pregnancy!
Pregnancy-Related Musculoskeletal Pain
We previously thought that the joint laxity (looseness) that occurs during pregnancy was found only in the joints around the pelvis; this was first documented in 1934. We now know that joint laxity also affects joints that are further away from the pelvis, including the lower back (lumbosacral joint), knees, and even wrists. These changes can ultimately lead to joint instability and pain with daily activities that were previously pain-free. Many people believe the pain they experience during pregnancy, e.g. low back pain, will go away following pregnancy; however, that is not the case for at least a third of women.1 If you have pain during or after pregnancy, additional resources like education, exercise guidance, and physical therapy can help. Your physical therapist at ReQuest Physical Therapy in Gainesville, FL can teach you the appropriate exercises and educate you on how to modify activities that are difficult or painful.
Postpartum depression affects up to 13% of all new mothers within the first 6 to 10 weeks after delivery. It has been suggested that a multidisciplinary approach can reduce a mother’s risk of depression after having a baby.2 Physical therapists play an important role in this process by providing patient education, social support, and a safe environment for exercise following pregnancy. One session of physical therapy weekly for 8 weeks has been shown to have a significant positive effect on wellbeing. Physical therapy also reduced the number of women who were at risk of getting postpartum depression by about 50%.3 It is important for this physical therapy to be hands-on and individualized. At ReQuest Physical Therapy, we will give you the one-on-one attention you deserve.
Physical Activity Levels
It’s also common for women to decrease their participation in household, recreational, and outdoor activities during the end of pregnancy. This puts these pregnant women below the recommended level of daily activity, placing them at a greater risk for chronic disease and obesity.4 Our physical therapists can help ease the anxiety associated with exercise by providing individuals with step-by-step exercise plans that match each woman’s needs and abilities.
Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed physical therapists today. We are here to assist you in your prenatal or postpartum journey.