Obstetric physical therapy involves the assessment and treatment of individuals who are currently pregnant as well as individuals who are postpartum. An obstetric physical therapist is trained to examine pregnant and postpartum individuals who are experiencing pain or dysfunction related to pregnancy(ies). The trained physical therapist will assess for common pregnancy-related conditions including hip, low back, tailbone, and pelvic pain. If assessing a pregnant client, the obstetric physical therapist will tailor the assessment to the client’s stage of pregnancy and is trained to safely monitor and treat individuals with high risk pregnancies. If assessing a postpartum client, the obstetric physical therapist will screen the client for diastasis recti, maternal birth injuries, muscle dysfunction and scar tissue related to undergoing a C-section and muscle/joint/nerve dysfunction related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Common Conditions Treated
- Low back pain
- Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction
- Tailbone pain (coccydynia)
- Hip pain
- Nerve pain/dysfunction related to prolonged positioning during labor/childbirth
“It’s normal to have low back/hip pain during and after pregnancy.”
While low back and hip pain are common during pregnancy, they are certainly not normal and do not have to be tolerated. There are many techniques we can utilize in physical therapy to address and decrease (even resolve) these symptoms.
“It’s normal to leak urine when you cough/sneeze/run/jump after pregnancy.”
Urinary incontinence is never normal and should not be brushed off simply because you’ve had a baby. There are many possible causes of leaking urine and most of them can be addressed through physical therapy. Sometimes this requires the help of a pelvic floor therapist, but we can often address the dysfunction through an external assessment and specific training of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
“It’s okay to return to my previous exercise routine 6 weeks after childbirth
as long as I ‘start off slow’ and ‘listen to my body.'”
ABSOLUTELY not! There are so many changes that take place within the body over the 9 months of pregnancy and the first few weeks of the postpartum period, even more so if you are breastfeeding. Because of these changes, it is extremely important to consult an obstetric physical therapist before starting or returning to an exercise program. This will help you to determine your personal areas of weakness/dysfunction and address these issues before they lead to pain or injuries.