There's been a lot of press and criticism around the 6-week postpartum check up.
Moms have countless prenatal appointments, but after they give birth, they see their doctor only once postpartum at 6-weeks.
What most people (and let's face it, most providers), don't realize is that moms should be seeing their physical therapist many, many, MANY times before and after this 6-week postpartum checkup.
It's the role of pelvic floor physical therapist to keep a close eye on the mom during pregnancy and early postpartum. We will address any issues that arise early on and even help prevent them from occurring.
Your physician is primarily concerned about medical issues such as wound healing, bleeding, etc.
Your physical therapist that can screen early for prolapse, pee leaks, pelvic, pain, and can spot signs and symptoms of infection right away and refer.
You can start working with your physical therapist as soon as you want after birth!
Early Postpartum Rehab
You can start pelvic floor rehabilitation as soon as you are ready postpartum. It's difficult to predict when moms will want to see their physical therapist postpartum, as the postpartum period is a time of dramatic change for moms.
I tell my pregnant moms to schedule 6 weeks after their due date and to let me know when they give birth, and we can bump up the appointment accordingly.
I do this because some moms are not ready to go to physical therapy until around 6-weeks, but other moms need services immediately postpartum. It all depends on how the birth goes.
Education around what PT can do for early postpartum moms in critical during pregnancy, so that the mom is able to identify when she needs help.
The Role of Pelvic Floor PT Early Postpartum
Physical therapy can help immediately following c-sections, even before moms come home from the hospital.
We can help moms transfer in and out of bed, hold baby in a way that doesn't bother their scar, and coach them through bowel movements and peeing after the catheter is removed.
For moms that have a vaginal birth, pelvic floor PT can instruct them on breathing and gentle core activation immediately postpartum.
We can also help moms become more comfortable after perineal tearing and advise on wound healing/scar management.
We can help moms treat and prevent wrist issues that can arise with breast feeding. We can also help with back/neck pain that can be associated with breast feeding.
And we can help manage clogged ducts and identify symptoms of mastitis!
Progressing Postpartum Rehab
It generally takes 6-weeks for wounds to heal, such as c-sections on perineal tears. This is why your physician visit will be at about 6-weeks postpartum.
You can see your physical therapist well before if needed, but not all moms want to start rehab that soon.
For my moms that have births without tearing and are otherwise feeling pretty good, starting rehab at 6-weeks is perfectly acceptable!
Postpartum rehabilitation will start with very gentle core strengthening and gradually progress to higher intensities and return to running around 12 weeks.
Postpartum rehab doesn't necessarily end at 12 weeks, but will then tailor to the specific needs of the mom.
The reason moms are only getting one 6-week postpartum visit is simply because they're not getting enough pelvic floor physical therapy.
Pelvic floor physical therapists play a key role in prenatal care, early postpartum rehabilitation, and general motherhood wellness.
Pelvic floor PT's can help you with a range of issues. We treat everything from constipation to knee pain. We are your go-to resource for whatever is going on. We are even trained to assess for infection and refer when needed.
Make sure you book your appointment with your pelvic floor PT today!