Pregnancy and Recovery
Pregnancy causes profound anatomical and hormonal changes to our bodies. "Some women's bodies accommodate those changes quite well, and some women require a fair amount of work and assistance," says Jill Boissonnault, WCS, PT, PhD, past president and founder of the International Organization of Physical Therapists in Women's Health.
The prenatal regimen: Pushing out a baby is never going to be easy, but some WHPTs say that massaging the perineum with a lubricant, as well as stretching the hip and pelvic muscles, can help a woman "open up" during delivery, which could make her less likely to tear. There's also evidence that pregnant women can be taught how to bulge and flex their pelvic muscles correctly during labor, which can help avoid C-sections.
The postpartum regimen: "There are things a woman can do to mitigate some of the risk for future dysfunction, like strengthening her pelvic floor with Kegels throughout her pregnancy and after she delivers," says Boissonnault. She adds that in France, where postpartum wellness visits are included under national health coverage, new mothers are likely to be advised by a WHPT about strengthening their pelvic floor muscles, their abs and their posture.