Should I prioritise a physiotherapy appointment after labour?
It can be a pretty busy time settling in with your new baby and you may already have midwife, GP, obstetrician or lactation consultant appointments as well as friends and family visiting. So why would it be a good idea to see a specialist women’s health physiotherapist in the first few weeks?
Other professionals specialise in medically taking care of you and your baby. A women’s health physiotherapist will assess your pelvic floor muscles and help you return to exercise gradually and safely. Here are a few things that a Women’s Health & Continence Physiotherapist with post graduate training might help you with:
Early Post Natal Care
Even with the calmest and the most gentle of births a woman may experience vaginal grazing or some trauma to perineal tissues.
Physiotherapy can assist in treating any discomfort or difficulties with bowel or bladder at a very early stage. This includes constipation or bowel issues.
Treatment for Breastfeeding Difficulties
Physiotherapy can effectively manage mastitis and nipple pain. It is possible to assess and address underlying causes of these issues. Ultrasound and laser treatment can provide relief from symptoms and it may be appropriate to refer you for further investigations or feeding advice.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Assessment
Pelvic floor muscles stretch to 200x their normal resting length during a vaginal birth. You definitely want to make sure that this important set of muscles is in good shape as a new mum. Even if you have a c-section the pelvic floor will have been exposed to extra pressure, loading and your amazing softening hormones for the past 9 months. Assessment of your pelvic floor can be done either with ultrasound via your abdominals or (more accurately) with a vaginal examination. A vaginal assessment is almost always recommended for women wishing to return to high impact physical activities or any weight lifting. If you suspect you may have a prolapse your specialist physiotherapist is the professional to see about this in the early weeks and months after birth.
Abdominal Muscle Assessment
Stretching of your abdominal muscles during pregnancy is normal. However, if any gap in your muscles has not resolved by 8 weeks following birth you will need some guidance and advice regarding the best rehabilitation for you. A Women’s Health Physiotherapist can put together a program for you.
Prevention, early treatment and management are the best approach for any aches and pains that you may encounter as a new mum. Sitting and feeding postures, repeated lifting and hours of holding can all take their toll on your body. Physiotherapy can help with treatment of pain and discomfort for many musculoskeletal issues and also provide you with self-management strategies.
Bladder and Bowel Function Screening
Women’s Health Physios love to talk about pee & poop! These issues are closely related and early screening of both of these can save you a lot of trouble down the track. We manage urgency, decreased bladder sensation, constipation…and so much more. Please don’t be embarrassed – talk to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist if anything isn’t as it should be!
Hormones are responsible for so many amazing things but the whole process of pregnancy and birth can be the start of painful sex for many. Physiotherapy can treat the pelvic floor and other soft tissue to help you return to a healthy and pain free sex life… but we can’t do much about the sleep deprivation! If you experienced painful intercourse prior to pregnancy it is also important to see your Women’s Health Physiotherapist after your baby is born.
Return to Exercise
Physiotherapists get excited about helping women to be active and healthy. There are so many health benefits to exercise and everyone has their individual preferences for keeping active. If you are a keen runner or even just looking for suggestions of how you could be a little more active then a physiotherapist can help you. Depending upon your pre-pregnancy fitness it is important to return to activity at the right pace for your body to avoid worsening issues such as prolapse, incontinence or pelvic pain. It is highly recommended that you consult a Women’s Health Physiotherapist if you are returning to HIIT training, Cross Fit, weight lifting, running, F45, Boot Camp or even standard gym classes. We have many tips and tricks to help you get back to class swiftly and safely!
Be proactive and prevent common problems by seeing a specialist Women’s Health & Continence Physiotherapist when your baby is 6-8 weeks old (or sooner if you have any concerns or questions). You are able to self-refer to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist in your area or your GP can refer you to see a specialist physiotherapist at your local hospital.
Written by Emily Shiel – Women Health & Continence Physiotherapist and HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator. You can connect with Emily here –www.shielphysio.com