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Vaginal & C-Section Birth Recovery

Postpartum Recovery

Whether your delivery day went as planned or everything went sideways, you’ve been through an intensely challenging and life-changing experience. Working with a PT to treat symptoms and rebuild strength will benefit your body and mind —  research suggests that physical therapy may reduce risk of postpartum depression by 50%.

Some postpartum patients love to sneak away for “me time” in our clinics, while others prefer virtual visits at home. Your therapist can even incorporate your newborn into your workouts :)

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The Origin Way

TLC For Your Postpartum Body

Understand Your Body

Once pregnancy ends, huge shifts in your hormones and body shape happen literally overnight. As you recover, you’re likely to feel pain and tenderness in damaged tissue and weakness in multiple areas, most commonly the abdominals and back.

Work 1:1 with A physical therapist

The first things to address may be a Cesarean incision or perineal tear, but there’s much more physical therapy can help with, including:

  • Exercises to activate and strengthen the abdominals
  • Rebuilding the pelvic floor
  • Ergonomic breastfeeding / baby-carrying
  • Managing stress
  • Comfortable postpartum sex
  • C-section scar massage

Come As You Are

Parenting a newborn can be as difficult and draining as it is full of love and wonder. Come as you are and get the care you deserve. Average length of treatment ranges from 10 weekly visits for low back pain to 14 for a perineal tear.

Common & Treatable

Physical therapy reduces chronic pain after childbirth and averts unnecessary postpartum surgery for separated abs, urinary incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.

"My c-section scar is tight and tender."
"I’m afraid I’ll never have sex again."
"My whole body feels weak."

Sources: Thabet AA, et al. Efficacy of deep core stability exercise program in postpartum women with diastasis recti abdominis: a randomised controlled trial. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2019; Woodley SJ, et al. Pelvic floor muscle training for preventing and treating urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020; Hagen S, et al. Individualised pelvic floor muscle training in women with pelvic organ prolapse (POPPY): a multicentre randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. 2014; Karakaya IC, et al. Effects of physiotherapy on pain and functional activities after cesarean delivery. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics volume. 2012.

Postpartum FAQ

When can I return to exercise after a vaginal delivery?

Even if your OBGYN clears you to start exercising at your 6 week postpartum check-up, we encourage you to wait until you truly feel ready. Six weeks with a newborn can leave you exhausted. And, if you’re tired, chances of injury are higher. We recommend that you start light, get used to moving again, and slowly increase intensity over time. For example, if you like running, start with walking. If you lifted heavy weights before pregnancy, opt for body weight exercises at first, then slowly build your way up.

Your physical therapist can design a personalized therapeutic exercise program for you that builds your strength, flexibility, and coordination — and helps prevent future strain, injury, or pelvic floor dysfunction.

When can I return to exercise after a c-section?

It’s important to wait until you have your doctor’s clearance to start exercising again. Once you get the green light, we encourage you not to rush back to your pre-pregnancy workout. Caring for a newborn is exhausting, and exercising when you’re fatigued raises your chance of injury. Take it slow and listen to your body. If you need to rest, rest.

You’ll notice that your incision will feel numb for some time, even after it’s fully healed. This numbness can make reconnecting with your abdominal muscles more difficult. Starting with lower-intensity ab exercises will help activate your core. Think abdominal bracing, marching in place, and heel slides. You might even place a hand on your abs and feel your abs contract as you exercise.

As you feel your muscles responding, you can increase the intensity of exercise. Workouts should involve moving your body in all three planes — side to side, front to back, and in rotation — to help mobilize your entire core. Your physical therapist can help you create a therapeutic exercise plan that’s safe and effective.

How can PT help me rebuild my pelvic floor postpartum?

Your pelvic floor muscles are the MVP of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. They’ve been working a lot harder than usual and could use some help getting back to their full function. Pelvic floor physical therapy postpartum will help you regain strength and mobility in your pelvic floor muscles. This will ensure that your muscles are able to contract and relax symmetrically throughout their full range of motion and provide proper support to your whole body. Postpartum pelvic floor rehabilitation shortly after giving birth will also help you avoid pelvic floor dysfunction, down the line.

Why do I feel pressure in my pelvis postpartum?

It’s common to experience pressure or heaviness in your pelvis postpartum. The pressure in your pelvis might also be accompanied by pelvic floor pain, pelvic organ prolapse, or urinary incontinence (even leaking just a bit when you cough or sneeze). These are all symptoms of pelvic floor weakness after childbirth, and are a good indication that your pelvic floor muscles could use some extra support.

How long will it take to recover from a c-section?

C-section recovery time can vary by person, so it’s hard to outline c-section recovery week by week. Most patients begin to feel “more normal” around 6-8 weeks after a cesarean section. Physical therapy after pregnancy can help you recover from your c-section and ensure that you’re strengthening your body safely. Postpartum physical therapy might include c-section scar massage, postpartum pelvic floor exercises, or even core exercises to repair diastasis recti.

How can PT help with c-section recovery?

Postpartum physical therapy can help you rebuild core strength after your c-section, and relieve pain or discomfort caused by c-section scar tissue. To help you regain strength, we’ll retrain your abdominal muscles to increase support in your torso and low back through PT-guided care and prescribed mobility exercises to do at home. Physical therapy will address the c-section scar itself with a combination of cupping, heat, cold laser therapy, and c-section scar massage. Your physical therapist will work with you to build your c-section recovery kit, with tools to get back in touch with your body, regain strength, and address c-section pain.

What is c-section scar massage?

C-section scar massage is a manual scar mobilization technique used by physical therapists. It’s a gentle, skin-rolling type massage directed at your c-section scar and lower abdomen, which helps relieve c-sections scar pain and discomfort. The best part? Your physical therapist can teach you how to safely massage your scar at home.

When can I start bending after a c-section?

You’ll want to avoid deep bending, lifting more than your baby, or otherwise stretching or straining your abs until your incision is healed (typically 4-6 weeks after delivery). It’s important to not do anything that causes c-section scar pain or other discomfort — if you aren’t able to perform a certain movement without abdominal pain or strain, it isn’t safe yet.

What is postpartum diastasis recti?

Diastasis recti (aka DRA, separated abs, diastasis rectus abdominis, or "mummy tummy") is the separation of the "six-pack" muscles that sit on the outermost layer of your abdominal wall. This separation happens when connective tissue between these muscles (called the linea alba) become over-stretched, which makes ab separation common in pregnancy. Almost all pregnant people experience some degree of ab separation by their third trimester, but severe diastasis recti can linger long after delivery.

You can fix diastasis recti after pregnancy by giving your postpartum abs some TLC with physical therapy. Your PT will perform a diastasis recti test to check for diastasis recti, and can let you know if your diastasis recti is considered severe or mild. Your PT will also prescribe safe diastasis recti exercises to help you continue recovering between sessions. There are plenty of exercises to avoid with diastasis recti, so it’s important to consult a physical therapist before doing any ab workout.

How can I tell if I have diastasis recti?

The telltale sign of diastasis recti is coning (also referred to as doming). Coning is typically seen when doing a crunch-like movement, which causes increased pressure in the abdomen that the connective tissue (or linea alba) is too lax to control. When doing this type of exercise, the diastasis recti bulge will show along the LA. Other signs of diastasis recti include a general feeling of looseness or weakness in the abdominal wall postpartum, and a "mommy tummy" or "bulge" that won't go away.

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The Origin Team

Our pelvic floor and orthopedic physical therapists have helped over 15,000 patients feel better in their bodies.
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Covered By Insurance

Taking care of yourself shouldn’t break the bank.

We’re in-network with most insurance plans.

  • Blue Shield
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