There's so much we don't know about postpartum recovery—and so few people willing to discuss it candidly. “It’s easy to miss the bigger picture if you’re just looking at a woman’s private parts,” says Susie Gronski, DPT, PRPC, a board-certified pelvic rehabilitation practitioner who specializes in physical therapy. "The pelvic floor is just a piece of the puzzle," Gronski says, and it needs to be assessed in conjunction with the rest of the body. (Here are 8 bizarre things that happen to your body during pregnancy.)
Not all women have post-pregnancy complications, notes Gronski. “The body does a pretty good job at recovery for most women," says Gronski. Some will experience issues, however. Incontinence is one example—while common, it's not normal. “There are so many reasons why a woman could experience pain postpartum," says Gronski. On her list: nutrition, poor sleep, altered body mechanics, psychological and physical stress, and pre-baby health.
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Pelvic physical therapy (PPT) techniques vary from therapist to therapist—biofeedback, hands-on assessment and manipulation, and exercises are all common. Common signs that you can benefit from postpartum therapy are pain—in the pelvis, back, neck, jaw, or abs, or during intercourse—along with incontinence, constipation, diastasis recti, or prolapsed organs. "PPT can help re-train pelvic floor and abdominal function and coordination to optimize recovery and strength postpartum," says Gronski. Here are 4 reasons to consider pelvic physical therapy after giving birth.
Related: 3 Gentle Yoga Poses For New Moms