Physical Therapy and Postpartum Support
Most of us cannot relate to being a real life princess, but when Meghan Markle shared about her postpartum experience in conversation with Oprah, it’s likely that as many as 1 in 8 moms knew exactly what she was going through. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Drew Barrymore have all opened up about their struggles with postpartum depression, and despite it being a national conversation, more visibility doesn’t mean more action. Let's talk about what can be done to prevent postpartum depression—starting with physical therapy.
Physical therapy exercise has been shown to reduce risk of postpartum depression by up to 50% by working to address the risk factors, which include social isolation, difficult physical recovery, traumatic birth, and loss of independence.
HOW IT SUPPORTS YOU
For pregnant or new moms, there is so much anticipation built up around the arrival of a new baby that there's seemingly no space to talk about when it’s hard. But two things can exist at once: You can be in LOVE with your new baby and also feel tremendous loss, as this entirely new identity means a loss of the old one in many ways. Finding a “new normal,” learning what hurts, what feels good, when to push your body, and when to rest are all part of it.
Physical therapy can help smooth this adjustment and also means you don’t have to do it alone.
Physical therapy fosters connection
Scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist opens the door to connection. At Origin, we are not just a group of practitioners, but a community of moms, too. Connecting with others who have shared experiences is one of the most powerful tools for mental health support.
Physical therapy prevents injuries and helps healing
Feeling confident day to day is huge, and the impact of physical postpartum recovery can make everyday tasks really daunting. Physical therapy in pregnancy is proven to reduce the risk of birth injury. For example, one‐third of women have urinary incontinence, and studies show that prenatal physical therapy can reduce this risk by up to 62%. And it’s not just preventative: women can come to physical therapy at any time in postpartum and get care for urinary incontinence, pain during sex, breastfeeding related back pain—all things that occupy a great deal of mental space when left untreated.
Physical therapy boosts activity, safely
The six week postpartum visit when new moms are given the “all clear” for physical activity and for sex can feel like gaslighting—how can it possibly be one size fits all? However, there are benefits to exercise. “A single session of exercise can result in both an increase in positive mood states (eg, feeling positive, more energetic, happy and more refreshed) and a decrease in negative mood states (eg, tension, anxiety, confusion).”
Physical therapy helps new moms get the benefits of exercise while moving at their own pace and preventing injury.
Postpartum looks different for everyone, but uncertainty (something that’s often universal) has been found by neuroscientists to create high levels of stress—just look at this last year. Rather than focus on what could happen, a physical therapist can help create personalized plans for what is happening. Not only that but they can also help prevent or minimize injury, preparing moms for birth with tools and a safe space for questions. A physical therapist is a guide who can listen to your experience, then make a plan that frees up some mental space so that you can enjoy the precious postpartum moments.