Pre- and postpartum therapy is a form of physical therapy that helps women manage the many physical changes and musculoskeletal conditions they experience—such as low back pain, morning sickness, edema, fatigue, and constipation—during each trimester of pregnancy and into the months after delivery.
Physical therapy offers a variety of techniques and modalities to help pregnant women, including soft tissue, joint, neural, and visceral mobilization; deep tissue massage; strength and flexibility training; manual lymphatic drainage; neuromuscular reeducation; myofascial release; biofeedback; and ultrasound.
Labor and delivery preparation is another part of pre- and postpartum therapy because it teaches women about proper delivery positioning and breathing techniques for pain management. Pregnant women can also perform strengthening exercises and perineal stretching to further ease delivery.
Pre- and postpartum therapy is also useful for women with high-risk pregnancies. Therapists can create modified home exercise programs for women with this condition, who are often restricted in mobility or have been prescribed bed rest by their healthcare providers.
Physical therapy is used to aid postpartum recovery, as well. Typically about six to eight weeks after delivery, women are able to begin therapy to improve pelvic floor function, retrain and strengthen abdominal muscles, and decrease risk of scarring.