Do I Need a Women's Physical Therapist?
The first time I witnessed a birth the world slowed down and I was able to see first hand the incredible strength and resilience women possess. It was as if a spark inside the new mother caught flame and she glowed. After the birth, I congratulated and applauded all her efforts in creating, carrying, and birthing her baby. I witnessed the birth of both baby and mother in those sacred moments. From then on, I saw that same glow in all women; whether she’s family planning, delivering by cesarean or vaginally, adopting, or grieving a lost pregnancy. It is the glow of a Mother being born. This is how my journey began as a Women’s Physical Therapist, birth doula, and co-creator of Bloom Women’s Physical Therapy.
Two years ago, I was working as a Women’s Physical Therapist, and one of my clients who was pregnant asked me to be her birth doula. I agreed on the terms that I would complete professional training prior to her birth. In the training, I found myself surrounded by like-minded people—every woman in the room was intensely passionate about supporting and serving women in motherhood. As much as I gained from the training, I also realized how much my education as a Doctor of Physical Therapy enhanced my knowledge, skills, and techniques that would allow me to uniquely serve women in and out of the birth room.
Here are some of the ways a Women’s Physical Therapist can assist in the preparation for birth, during labor and birth, and afterwards, in recovery.
Preparing for Birth
- Therapeutic techniques to treat low back pain during pregnancy, which affects about 50-70% of women. The American Pregnancy Association recommends physical therapy as a treatment approach for decreasing pain, improving mobility, correcting posture, and strengthening the pelvis and spine in order to remediate common causes related to back pain. (http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pregnancy-and-physicaltherapy/). ● Medical yoga therapy to prepare your body for labor and birth.
- Practice various labor and birthing positions in combination with breathing techniques commonly used during birth.
- Manual techniques that are beneficial in promoting an optimal position for babies in non ideal positions (i.e. breech position)
- Manual techniques to reverse female infertility attributed to structural and hormonal causes.
Labor and Birth
- Provide emotional support to the birth woman and her partner throughout labor and birth. o Published data indicates that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula (Hodnett, et. al. 2013).
- Manual techniques to reduce pain and encourage descent of the baby into the Mother’s pelvis.
- Instruction for breath-work, positioning, and muscle activation for purposeful, successful pushing.
Recovery From Birth
- Manual techniques in restoring pelvic tissue mobility in treating pelvic pain.
- Manual techniques in treating scar tissue from cesarean or perineal surgeries and preventing related complications.
- Pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation programs to treat leakage of urine, feces, or gas.
- Abdominal strengthening to treat a diastasis recti or separation of the abdominal muscles.
- Prevention measures and body education including baby-wearing assessment, ergonomic modification in the home, carrying and lifting techniques.
Mitera is a brand that supports women in their many roles as providers, professionals, community members, leaders, and mothers. The clothing empowers women, in all their beauty and strength, to wear both the heels and the breast pumps. When I first found Mitera Collection, I felt that same feeling I had in doula training. Here is a group of like-minded individuals who passionately support and serve women. In partnership with Mitera, I will be sharing a few insights and tips for their readers and wearers such as ergonomic set-up of the office during pregnancy, 3 abdominal exercises for postpartum, and demystifying the Kegel exercises.
Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5.
Contributed by Dr. Grace Abruzzo, Physical Therapist, Doula, and Co-Creator of Bloom Women’s Physical Therapy. For more information about Grace and Bloom Women’s Physical Therapy, visit www.bloomwomenspt.com