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5 Reasons to see a Physical Therapist on your Pregnancy and Post Partum Journey

5 Reasons to see a Physical Therapist on your Pregnancy and Post Partum Journey

by Corley McBeth, PT, DPT

Why should you include a Physical Therapist in your pregnancy and postpartum journey?  Here’s 5 important reasons:

  1. Seeing a physical therapist at the beginning of your pregnancy (or even before a positive pregnancy test) can be helpful in establishing a baseline and making sure you have the tools you need for a strong and healthy pregnancy
    • Your physical therapist can make recommendations and adjustments to your current exercise routine (or help you safely get started!)
    • Your physical therapist can help you develop good postural habits and strategies to reduce potential aches and pains later
    • If you have concerns regarding diastasis recti (i.e. abdominal separation, which is common & normal during pregnancy), your PT can measure and monitor the progression
  2. Pregnancy related pain is treatable through physical therapy
    • During pregnancy, you might experience pain in the hips, low back, and pelvic girdle
    • This is common because of the ligamentous laxity that results from hormonal changes, and because your center of gravity and body mass are changing
    • Any muscle weakness or joint dysfunction that you had coming into the pregnancy makes it harder for you to meet the increased demands of your changing body
    • Your physical therapist can work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan to keep you feeling your best
  3. It is better to address symptoms of urinary incontinence (the dreaded leaking) sooner rather than later
    • Preventing or improving upon leaking before childbirth can reduce the potential for problems postpartum – women who have stress urinary incontinence during pregnancy are at risk for the incontinence to continue postpartum
    • Your physical therapist can help you retrain the pelvic floor muscles and incorporate better strategies for core stability (breathing is key!)
  4. Exercise during pregnancy is healthy
    • Your physical therapist can help guide you in terms of what you can safely do
    • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 30 minutes of moderate- intensity exercise most days of the week throughout pregnancy
    • Your physical therapist can teach you proper body mechanics as well as appropriate exercises for core and back strengthening
  5. Every woman should have a physical therapy pelvic health checkup postpartum
    • Physical therapists have the skills to examine, test, and find what activities you are capable of doing to allow for safe return to prior level of exercise and activity
    • Your body is recovering from a major event and progressing gradually is important to allow the tissues appropriate time to adapt
    • You can talk with your physical therapist if you have concerns about prolapse or symptoms of heaviness, pressure, or discomfort in your pelvis
    • Your physical therapist can also assist with positioning recommendations for breastfeeding and baby carrying/holding

 

Corley McBeth, PT, DPT is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and certified Personal Trainer at Movement Systems Physical Therapy who specializes in injury rehabilitation and improving athletic performance of individuals from all levels to help them achieve their health and fitness goals.

 

How to Not Pee Your Pants When Laughing – Cure Incontinence with Advice from a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist on Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (aka Kegels)


How to Not Pee Your Pants When Laughing –
Cure Incontinence with Advice from a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist on Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (aka Kegels)
by Julianne Simpson, DPT

A whopping 25-45% of women experience urinary incontinence in their lifetime1. Even though it is common, leaking when you sneeze, jump, cough or on your way to the bathroom is NOT normal! A new review article says that pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT), as prescribed by a physical therapist, can cure or reduce incontinence.2 

There are three main types of urinary incontinence: stress (urine loss with cough, sneeze, jump or laugh), urge (difficulty making it to the bathroom on time with strong urge) and mixed (combination of stress and urge incontinence). The study authors found that PFMT can help all three types of urinary incontinence. 

Female pelvic floor muscles

If you are looking for your pelvic floor muscles, you can find them at the bottom of your pelvis. These muscles stop the flow of urine, feces and gas and support your bladder, uterus and rectum. No surprise here, but both women and men have pelvic floor muscles. PFMT involves contracting and then relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, sometimes called doing Kegel (KEY-gul) exercises. These muscles can be weakened by inactivity, pregnancy or childbirth. Like any muscle, they become stronger and larger with exercise. The authors of the review suspect that larger muscles are more effective at closing off the urethra, the tube urine takes from your bladder out of your body. In addition, the stronger muscles could provide better support to the bladder, reducing movement with jumping or sneezing. 

According to the study, PFMT can change women’s lives. Women with all types of urinary incontinence experienced improvement in their quality of life. That’s more women out running, laughing and coughing with dry underpants! The women in the PFMT groups (vs the control groups) with: 

  • Stress urinary incontinence were eight times more likely to report their incontinence cured  
  • Urge urinary incontinence were two times more likely to report cure or improvement.  
  • Any type of urinary incontinence were five times more likely to report cure.  

The authors conclude, 

We can be confident that PFMT can cure or improve symptoms of stress urinary incontinence and all other types of urinary incontinence. 

A quick side note: PFMT can also help men and can reduce fecal and gas incontinence. Ask your physical therapist with a specialty in pelvic health for more information. Please watch here for upcoming blog posts with advice from a pelvic health physical therapist for men and strategies to reduce fecal and gas incontinence! 

If you are experiencing incontinence of any type, a pelvic health physical therapist is your best choice to help train your pelvic floor muscles. These specially trained physical therapists are experts at assessing pelvic floor muscles along with helping you with the critical integration of the pelvic floor with your entire movement system. A pelvic health physical therapist at Movement Systems will listen to you and collaborate with you to get you back to meaningful activities without leaking, whether it’s walking the dog, CrossFit, lifting your child or gardening, even if you sneeze!

 

Julianne Simpson, DPT, holds a BA from Oberlin College and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Eastern Washington University. A general orthopedic and pelvic health therapist, she is passionate about helping people move more and empowering her patients to live healthier lives. She dreams of raising kind children, cycling over the Alps and surfing in Alaska.

 

References:
1 Abrams,P, Cardozo, L, Wagg, A, Wein, A. (Eds) Incontinence 6th Edition (2017). ICI-ICS. International Continence Society, Bristol UK, ISBN: 978-0956960733.
2 Dumoulin C, Cacciari LP, Hay‐Smith EJC. Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD005654. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005654.pub4.