Physical therapy may be beneficial when pregnant or after giving birth

BEVERYLY HILLS (KABC) -- Many of us head to physical therapy after experiencing chronic joint or muscle pain. One doctor suggests that going to PT when pregnant or after having a baby is beneficial.

Within the nine months of developing a baby, many physical changes occur in a woman's body.

That's why Karen Joubert, doctor of physical therapy, believes that women should see a physical therapist within weeks of delivering their child.

"You have to deal with an influx of relaxin, progesterone, estrogen, and it affects the woman mentally, physically, emotionally," Joubert explained.

Also during pregnancy, many experience back pain due to the extra pressure on the pelvis.

"What people don't realize is, after delivery of a baby, studies have proven that about 40 percent of women sustain some kind low back pain or stress urinary incontinence," Joubert said.

Also, trying to get back to abdominal exercises can put undue pressure on the abdominals and the pelvic floor. Plus, when it comes to those recommended kegel exercises, she says watch out for this advice.

Some say you should stop and start your urine flow, but Joubert says that could result in a urinary tract infection.

Instead, she suggests this pattern:

"I want you to think of pulling the pelvic floor in and up to the count of three, all the way up and then down," Joubert advises a patient. "It's almost like you're pulling it in toward your stomach...I want you to take that pelvic floor and you're going to pull in quick and fast, 30 times."

Pregnant or not, many of us fail to see a physical therapist, as it is assumed it means a costly visit to the doctor first.

California is a "Direct Access" state. This means that you don't have to go to your general practitioner to get a prescription - instead you can go directly to PT.

"You can come into physical therapy without the prescription of a doctor for 12 visits or 45 days without a doctor's prescription," Joubert said.

Seeing a PT can strengthen your core muscles to better care for that baby.
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