Is There A Time Limit on Postpartum Rehab?

The question is…once you’re in the postpartum phase, is there a time limit on postpartum rehab? 

The answer: NO! Postpartum rehab goes beyond the “fourth trimester” or 1 year after having a baby. 

Postpartum rehab should be a standard of care for every mom, as your body goes through a significant journey in pregnancy and delivery. But what if you are already >1 year postpartum and STILL have pain, leak pee, and core weakness? Whether the care wasn’t available to you when you were newly postpartum or you didn’t have the time to prioritize yourself during the newborn phase-- we believe there is no expiration date on when you can seek postpartum rehab to help yourself feel better in your postpartum body!

First, Let’s take a quiz:

If you can check any of the common postpartum topics below then keep reading to find out how Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy can help!

  • Pain with sex?
  • Scar tissue after c-section or vaginal tear?
  • Leakage during exercise, coughing or laughing?
  • Constantly having to pee?
  • Unhappiness or concern with your tummy?
  • Feelings of bulging or pressure in your vagina?
  • Unsure how to strengthen your body postpartum?
  • Scared to return to your favorite activity or exercise plan?

How Can Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Help?

Scar Tissue

It’s never too late to work on scar tissue from a c-section or vaginal tear. If not treated, scar tissue can linger and cause pain with intercourse, tightness in the surrounding muscles, sensation changes nearby, and limit the skin’s ability to stretch around the scar. Treating scar tissue involves hands-on treatment with tissue mobilization and scar massage to help break it up.

Scar tissue will respond quickest in the initial healing phase, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it now-no matter how many years have passed! By treating the scar tissue, you can improve blood flow to the area and restore better tissue mobility. This will decrease pain and other symptoms to help your scar tissue resemble healthy tissue!

Pelvic and Back Pain

Low back, SI joint, or tailbone pain could be a sign of pelvic floor muscle overactivity! If it has been a year or more since pregnancy & delivery, but you’re left with this lingering low back pain- it could be your pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles work very hard during pregnancy and tend to get tighter as a result of the pressure from the baby as well as changes in hormones. After delivery, regardless of if it is a vaginal or c-section delivery, those muscles can stay tight and lead to radiating pain outside of the pelvis. 

The good news is that muscles respond to treatment at any point in the recovery process! If your pelvic floor muscles have been overactive for many years, it may take longer to get the muscles to relax and re-learn how to relax and contract, but it is not too late! If your low back pain has been going on since you had kids and you’ve tried massages, chiropractors, and exercising with no success at pain relief- it’s time to look for the root of the problem at the pelvic floor.

Core Weakness

Many women feel unhappy with how their stomach looks after having a baby and do all sorts of ‘core blasting’ workouts to hopefully get things back in shape. The problem is that the core muscles targeted in most of the workouts don’t target Transversus Abdominis, which is the most important core muscle in this situation! With the proper use of this muscle, it helps to contract and support the trunk, almost like a corset would. Without good coordination and strength of this muscle, some may get back pain and/or feel like they still look pregnant. 

This muscle can be worked on at any time in the recovery! It takes some focus to re-learn how to activate it and can be helped along with manual therapy from a specialized Physical Therapist to address any issues with diastasis recti, tight trunk muscles, or other impairments contributing to the weakened core muscles. 

Why Now?

We see patients all the time who have no obvious issues immediately postpartum, but by the time they reach menopause, a whole list of issues come to light.  That is why the sooner you can address any issues postpartum, the better. We want to address scar tissue, overactive muscles, and any pelvic floor dysfunction prior to the transitional stages into menopause. During that time, estrogen levels drop and can flare up issues like pelvic pain and incontinence.  When pelvic health is addressed prior to menopause, the transition and symptoms overall can be much improved. 

If you’re feeling stuck, like you’re too far out from Postpartum but you still are dealing with many of the issues that appear during that time-you’re not alone. Many women feel this way and we want to let you know that there is no time limit on rehab after having a baby! Schedule an evaluation with one of our Pelvic Floor Specialists today to start your postpartum rehab and feel confident in your body!