by Ashley Newton, PT, DPT
Let’s get into it – as a pelvic health physical therapist, I do not believe in the concept of ‘bouncing back’ from pregnancy. I think this term creates unrealistic expectations for folks about their mental and physical well-being that only fuels our inner critic. After 9+ months of physical, hormonal, and lifestyle changes, our bodies have adapted to an ever-changing new normal that with delivery, changes yet again. That time is chaotic with change and it can feel like there isn’t time to take care of yourself and that it would just be easier to resume the things that you did before pregnancy. It is then that pelvic floor dysfunction comes into the limelight of our lives and we can experience any or all of the following post-partum:
- pain with sexual activity
- pelvic floor heaviness
- urinary leakage
- fecal/gas leakage
- vaginal farting
- low back/SI/pelvic pain
- upper back pain
The pelvic floor and deep core muscles need rehab post-baby. The dysfunctions listed above are usually due to an issue in the coordination of these muscles that the body needs to relearn. Just like any new skill, these muscles need time and instruction to learn how to stabilize us in space. Pelvic health physical therapy is an immense resource for education on how to relearn to move in our bodies and support the tissues as they go through this transition postpartum. In muscle re-education, yoga-based physical therapy challenges the body to move and stabilize in a variety of movements while retraining the connection to the breath and the pelvic floor.
Pranayama or breathwork is inherent to the practice of yoga and becomes a source of retraining and strengthening for folks when re-establishing connection to our deep core musculature. In that vein, yoga is a movement system and I believe the variety of movement in addition to the focus on breathing, when taught by a physical therapist, is an efficient, accessible way to facilitate the body’s recovery postpartum.
In the era of on-demand information, people are always asking me my top 3 exercises postpartum. The top 3 exercises I choose for each client are different, but they all have the same themes: 1) establish coordination of breathing, 2) find and maintain upright posture in neutral, and 3) be able to maintain neutral moving through space.
As a LYT-certified yoga instructor as well as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I weave these concepts into my yoga flows and treatments in order to optimize tissue health and facilitate motor relearning. Understanding that time is finite, I have also created LYT yoga classes on LYT Daily so folks can get started with their postpartum recovery from home!
Heal The Pelvic Floor Series
Pelvic Foundation Series