4/4/2019 4 Comments
Physical Therapy in Pregnancy and Postpartum - learning from Kim Blackwell, MPT, RYT
One of the best parts of bringing our member businesses together in Doulas of Iowa City is the chance to gather for continuing education from experts in our community. In March, we were thrilled to have Kim Blackwell, MPT, RYT of Progressive Rehabilitation Associates join our members to share with us about the benefits of physical therapy in pregnancy and postpartum.
As doulas, we interact with clients who experience a range of discomforts during pregnancy and after birth. Kim shared with us a variety of different approaches she has in her physical therapist skill set that can address these common and often painful issues.
Low back pain is a common complaint in pregnancy as joints become more mobile due to hormonal changes. Physical therapists can help address with muscle energy technique - an approach that uses the patient's own muscles to realign problem areas. Additionally, the posture changes that come with a growing belly can result in discomfort and the use of support belts and Kinesiotape can be helpful.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a painful condition of the wrists experienced during pregnancy and physical therapists can provide stretching, splinting, and ultrasound therapy.
Pelvic floor issues during pregnancy and postpartum can include discomfort, incontinence, and pain during intimacy. Often Kegels are the exercise we think of to address some of these issues, but Kim notes that our pelvic floor needs to be able to both tighten and relax, and some issues can require more focus on relaxing than tightening - all this means that it is really worth the time to have a physical therapist provide your direction in how to engage and rehabilitate these muscles.
Diastasis Recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles. This separation occurs at the end of pregnancy and for some it closes just fine, but others may need physical therapy to address the issue. Kim notes the value of a professional evaluation, because there are different extents to the condition. Many birthing parents desire to return to exercise, but retraining the abdominal muscles and redeveloping core strength is important in order to do so safely.
Scarring from a cesarean birth or significant vaginal tearing can both benefit from a professional evaluation where exercises or scar tissue massage can provide valuable assistance with healing and long-term well being.
As someone who works frequently with pregnant patients, Kim notes that she is always cautious with the modalities she chooses to work with to meet pregnant patients' needs, making certain to choose only those established to be safe and beneficial during this time.
So what does a visit to a PT look like? Kim notes that patients do an initial visit of an hour to evaluate the issue and then follow up visits of 40 minutes. The number and frequency of these visits varies by condition and individual patient needs.
What about insurance? A quick call to your insurance can verify if you require a referral, and in many cases you are able to self-refer.
Do you have some of these complaints or concerns associated with pregnancy, postpartum, or life after baby? We highly recommend Kim Blackwell - you can find her over at Progressive Rehabilitation Associates.
Thanks so much, Kim, for sharing your experience and expertise with Doulas of Iowa City members!
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The Doulas of Iowa City blog contains guest posts by Doulas of Iowa City member businesses. We are excited to share with you about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and surrounding communities and to help you connect to fabulous local resources.
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