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Ask The Doc: Physical Therapy After Childbirth

QUESTION: I’VE HEARD THAT IN EUROPE IT IS STANDARD FOR MOST WOMEN TO BEGIN PHYSICAL THERAPY TO STRENGTHEN THEIR PELVIC FLOOR AS SOON AS THEY HAVE GIVEN BIRTH.

DO YOU THINK WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES SHOULD BE SEEING A PT AFTER HAVING A BABY, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY ARE HAVING SYMPTOMS OR NOT?

Answer: Absolutely! I support this practice for any woman after having a baby, including both vaginal and C-section deliveries. Think about it, during the pregnancy, the body changes so drastically, so quickly! Ligaments loosen; alignment changes, hormones fluctuate, and anywhere from 20-50 lbs may be gained. Then, you either push a baby out of your vagina or have a major abdominal surgery. To think that the body just heals and is “back to normal” 6 weeks postpartum is just ridiculous. In the OB practice where I work, there are 4 of us pelvic floor PTs integrated with the doctors and midwives to help serve this population so women can return to pre-baby function with greater ease and comfort. In my opinion, this should be the standard of practice for all women. At a minimum, doctors and midwives should at least be making each woman aware of this treatment and let them decide if pelvic floor PT should be a part of their postpartum rehabilitation.

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About Our Expert: Victoria Yeisley, DPT, has been exclusively practicing pelvic floor physical therapy for the past eight years, with an emphasis on prenatal and post-partum care. She currently lives in Chicago, IL, and practices at Northwestern Medical Group OBGYN, where she is integrated into the OBGYN healthcare team, as well as working at Chicago Physical Therapists, a private practice. Victoria is passionate about the care and support of women during the childbearing years and her goal is to increase the awareness of the importance of women’s health and treating pelvic floor dysfunction throughout the lifespan. She is currently pregnant with her first child and expecting in June of 2016!

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