Should You See a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist After Having a Baby?
Welcoming a baby is an exciting and joyous time. It can also be challenging as you recover from labor and delivery while dealing with physical and emotional demands of caring for a newborn. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help address common postpartum conditions you may be experiencing.
Postpartum Recovery: The "Fourth Trimester"
The first few months after your baby is born, the “fourth trimester” is a time when your body is recovering and you are navigating all the changes that come with the new addition to your family. You may feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, or sad in between all the joy and excitement. Movement and exercise can be a great way to help feel better, reduce stress, and improve sleep, but it is important to start moving safely.
Pregnancy, Birth and Your Pelvic Floor
Your pelvic floor is a bowl-shaped group of muscles that nestles like a hammock at the bottom of your pelvis. During pregnancy, these muscles experience additional strain, which can impact their function during daily activities, exercise, or toileting. During labor and delivery, the muscles of the pelvic floor need to relax and stretch to allow your baby to pass through the vaginal canal.
A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you improve the strength and mobility of your pelvic floor with a targeted exercise plan to address changes that occurred during pregnancy or birth. They can teach you strategies for posture, lifting, and carrying; provide safe options for exercise; and help you stay active and healthy during postpartum recovery.
The First 6 Weeks Postpartum
Typically your provider will recommend you wait six weeks after your baby is born to resume activities like sex and exercise. But there is a lot you can do before then to help with your recovery. A pelvic floor physical therapist can teach you about:
Healthy ways to move your body during childcare activities and lifting/carrying your baby
Breastfeeding positions that decrease strain on your back and neck
Good toileting habits to help with leakage and pelvic pain
Managing pressure on your abdomen during daily activities, to reduce strain on your pelvic floor and re-engage your abdominal muscles
Identifying postpartum mood issues and when you may benefit from seeing another provider about postpartum depression and/or anxiety
When Should I See a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist?
Many common conditions can occur during or after pregnancy, even with a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to grin and bear it. We recommend you talk to a pelvic floor physical therapist if you have:
Back, hip, or pelvic pain
Pain in the front of your pelvis (over your pubic bone), such as when standing on one leg, putting on or taking off your pants, or getting in or out of bed
Leaking urine or bladder incontinence
Leaking feces or bowel incontinence (even staining your underwear)
Constipation or pain with voiding or bowel movements
Pain during or after sexual activity
Pelvic pressure or a feeling of bulging or heaviness in your vagina
Diastasis recti (stretching of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy)
Getting Back to Exercise
In addition to doing exercises that target pelvic floor muscles, you may be eager to get back to activities like running, gym workouts, and sports. But you may find exercise challenging. Maybe you don’t have much energy or don’t know where to start. A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you develop a personalized exercise program to meet you where you are and teach you how to progress safely. Talk to your Hinge Health physical therapist or coach about tailoring your plan for exercises to address any issues you’re experiencing in the postpartum period.
There are many things you can do in the early days postpartum to help your recovery.
Many common conditions associated with pregnancy and the postpartum period can improve with pelvic floor physical therapy. Talk to a pelvic floor physical therapist to address any concerns you have after your baby is born.
A pelvic floor physical therapist can develop a personalized program to help you resume exercise safely.
Goldfarb, I. T. (2021, April 6). The fourth trimester: What you should know. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-fourth-trimester-what-you-should-know-2019071617314
Patel, S. (2017, September 17). The “fourth trimester”: Why women need health care after delivery. UT Southwestern Medical Center. Retrieved from https://utswmed.org/medblog/fourth-trimester-primary-care/ 3. Postpartum exercise: How to get started. (2021, November 24). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/exercise-after-pregnancy/art-20044596