Bringing Up Mama: Postpartum Recovery with PT

May 10, 2013

General Information

Cover of "Baby Care (101 Essential Tips)&...

Cover of Baby Care (101 Essential Tips)

Childbirth is a physically-demanding process.  Though they try, no amount of birthing class instruction or self-help books can fully prepare an expectant mother for the demands of childbirth.  Even though I did all I could do to prepare, the feeling of childbirth came as a surprise.  Likewise, postpartum has its own demands and surprises.  Moms, though they know life will be an adjustment when a baby arrives, they may not recognize the adjustments their own bodies will go through. With all the rocking, diaper changes, and time spent hypnotized by the cuteness of a new baby, a new mom may find it hard to focus on her own postpartum recovery.  Supporting this is our culture of expecting moms to be superhuman.  Women can raise babies, work full-time, cook, clean, and organize the household’s activities… all on a good solid 3 hours of sleep.

Most women expect recovery from childbirth to include weight loss.  I read the book “Bringing up Bebe” and in it author, Pamela Druckerman, talks about how French women are expected to get their figure back and usually by the third month postpartum!  Tres bien!  The new mom, however, may not expect some of the other potential postpartum difficulties including the following:

  • low endurance
  • uterine contractions
  • depression
  • overstretched abdominals (diastasis recti)
  • back, hip, pelvic, and/or neck pain
  • incontinence

As I’ve talked with other women, I’ve found that there is a wide disparity in postpartum education and recovery.  In the U.S., there seems to be a lack of formal programs and guidelines for the recovering mom, but in some other countries, women are automatically enrolled in a 6 week postpartum class.  These “What to expect when you’re done expecting” classes teach women about their bodies and exercises to help them get back in shape and feeling like themselves again.

If you are a new mom, you should not expect the above problems to linger.  This is NOT normal.  Ask for help.  Specifically, ask for a physical therapist.  I’m always surprised to find moms in therapy that have had ongoing problems following childbirth, and it took years for them to get into physical therapy to finally start addressing them properly.  If your hip still hurts, your back started hurting and never stopped, or you lose a little urine when you jump or run, someone can help you… and that someone is a physical therapist.  Seek out a PT that specializes in women’s health and orthopaedics.  A PT can teach you how to manage these conditions and give excellent consultation on exercises that are most appropriate for postpartum recovery.  We give so much attention to bringing up bebe that we have forgotten that we’re bringing up mama too.  Let’s not forget to give moms the attention they deserve and not just on Mother’s Day!  Now that I’ve been through it, I know I won’t forget!

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Physical Therapy Orthopaedic Specialist at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System

My name is Monique Serpas, PT, DPT, OCS. I am a physical therapist and board-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist practicing at the Southeast Louisiana Healthcare System in New Orleans, LA. I realize how difficult it can be to overcome an injury or manage a chronic condition and am focused on helping my clients achieve wellness through a physically active lifestyle. I treat orthopaedic, balance, and vestibular disorders and practice using a combination of hands-on manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and education. This enables my patients to assist in their own recovery and injury prevention. I also have developed fall prevention and golf-related rehab programs in the past. I hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Concordia University Wisconsin (2008) and a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University (2004). I am a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Louisiana Physical Therapy Association (LPTA), and the Orthopaedic and Neurology sections of the APTA.

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