The pregnancy and childbirth processes are hard on the body as it undergoes significant hormonal and physical changes. Not only do they impact the body of a new mother, but they can also affect their moods or lead to postpartum depression. Here our Mantocik physical therapists offer some information about how physiotherapy may be able to help address both.
Many people will simply accept that health issues including pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence, SI joint pain, and lower back pain are simply part of life after pregnancy. This doesn't have to be the case though.
But the ways in which physiotherapy can help new mothers don't end with the concrete physical impacts of pregnancy on their bodies. There is increasing evidence that physiotherapy treatments and prescribed exercises can have a positive impact on the mood and resilience of new mothers against the initial "blues" that often follows childbirth as well as postpartum depression.
How can physiotherapy help my body recover from my pregnancy?
When specialized to the needs of new mothers, physical therapy can offer a number of methods to help people recover their good health, mobility, flexibility and control over their bodily functions.
The following are some of the specific treatments and exercises that post- and pre-natal physiotherapy can help new mothers return to their normal routines and activities quicker while avoiding the health issues which many assume are unavoidable:
- Post-natal Yoga and Pilates
- Acupuncture / Dry Needling
- Manual Therapy (Joint & Tissue Mobilizations)
- Active Physiotherapy for The Pelvic Floor
Ask your physiotherapists about how any of the above activities or treatments may be able to help you to speed your recovery from pregnancy and the childbirth process. Our Manotick physiotherapists will be able to devise a treatment plan for you that will be tailored to your specific healthcare needs.
How can physiotherapy help to manage my mood after childbirth?
During the period of time shortly after giving birth to a child, new mothers' bodies go through a series of drastic physical and hormonal changes as they adjust to no longer being pregnant. This period of time is called postpartum, or the postpartum period.
You may have, in particular, heard the word used in reference to postpartum depression. While a period of a few weeks after giving birth to a child where you feel "blue" is exceedingly normal, as many as 13% of people who have given birth in North America experience extended periods of depressive moods referred to as postpartum depression.
If you start to notice thoughts and behaviours in yourself that may indicate postpartum depression after giving birth such as mood swings, anxiety, crying, irritability and sadness, your first course of action should always be to seek the advice of a medical professional, whether they be your family doctor or a licensed therapist.
Where physiotherapists come in should be a bit later down the road.
It's commonly held that physical activity can have enormous benefits to the mental health and well-being of individuals struggling with mental illness. And while physical activity isn't a substitute for working with other medical professionals to manage your mood, including postpartum depression, postpartum physiotherapy conducted under the supervision of a physical therapist can offer two distinct benefits:
- Targeting the physical impacts on your body of your recent pregnancy to help you recover quickly
- Helping to improve your health and mood
In fact, a 2010 study showed results that indicated that group physical activity under the supervision of a physiotherapist had significant positive impacts on the general well-being and depressive feelings of new mothers.
Ask your doctor and your physical therapist about how physical activity and prescribed physiotherapy exercises may be able to help with both your physical recovery and mental well-being as you adjust to life with your new baby.