Westport-Based Women’s Health Physical Therapist Discusses The Woes Of What Pregnancy And Delivery Can Do To Our Bodies, And How There’s Help You May Not Be Aware Of…
“I leak when I cough or sneeze. Or jump. Or run. My doctor told me I should just use a pad and do Kegels. It hasn’t changed.”
“I can’t hold it sometimes on the way to the bathroom. This never happened before I had my baby.”
“I keep getting UTI’s and I don’t know why.”
“My stomach looks like I’m 5 months pregnant. It worsened after my second child. I’m told it will always be like that now.”
“My low back hurts off and on now. Never before I had my C-section.”
“It hurts to have sex ever since I gave birth. I feel bad for my husband. My doctor told me it would get better in time but it’s still a problem.”
These are words I hear a lot. It makes me sad that women start to believe these post-partum issues are “just the way it is now”.
What can be done?
I’m a physical therapist with a specialization in women’s health issues. I primarily treat the muscles and fascia involved with anything related to the pelvic floor (muscles used to do a Kegel or stop urine) or pelvic organ issues (uterus, ovaries, bladder, rectum). This ranges from leaking with a sneeze to bad period cramps. I also treat the low back, SI joints, and hips. Very importantly, women’s health also includes women preparing to get pregnant, those who are pregnant, and anyone postpartum.
Many women don’t know about the myriad of problems that can arise from C-section scarring. I tell people what you see on the surface of a scar is often just the “tip of the iceberg”. Women may have symptoms like low back pain, hip pain, incontinence, difficulty engaging the abdominals, or pain in the pubic region.
Pain with sex and a story that she had an episiotomy or tore during childbirth and required stitches means there is usually scarring that needs to be released.
Some women are leaking urine and cannot feel their pelvic floor muscles work properly. I help them with either manual guidance or a biofeedback machine to reconnect and strengthen.
With core weakness and loss of tone associated with pregnancy, often women have diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles that causes pooching and risk for hernia). I help identify WHY it happened, retrain breathing, and teach women to identify if their deepest layer of abdominals and get their bodies back again.
The exercise program
I like to help mothers find the safest and most effective exercise program to help restore their core and rebuild their pelvic floor again. A slow and steady wins the race. It’s best to do it before and WHILE you’re pregnant. How you carry your baby and even how you stand can be huge factors as well. Proper posture is key.
In Europe and Canada, postpartum physical therapy is provided to every mother to help them recover from the intense changes that happen during pregnancy and labor. Not only is there not care automatically provided for new mothers in the U.S., but not enough of our ob/gyns and urologists are informed about how physical therapy can help.
All mothers should be receiving optimum care during and after going through one of the most meaningful physical change of their lives, pregnancy. If you have any of the issues I’ve mentioned or related concerns, and even just want to talk to me about them, please reach out. I’m here to answer any questions you may have. Let’s empower ourselves as women who become mothers in order to keep our bodies strong and healthy inside and out! No matter what we’ve been through.
Tara Gibson, PT, DPT, CFMT, Women’s Health Specialist, Certified Pilates Instructor and Director of Elite Pilates, LLC
Elite Health Services Westport Office 203.349.8430 / Old Greenwich Office 203.983.5748
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