By Molly Bachmann PT, DPT, PHRC San Francisco
Virtual appointments are now available for those who are pregnant and postpartum! We are excited to offer this service to birthing people around the world. Whether you are pregnant and are interested in learning more about how to prepare your body for birth or need help developing a birth plan and want support in navigating the birthing world, or postpartum and experiencing symptoms of pain or dysfunction and are not sure what to do, this service is for you.
The 4th Trimester
“The pelvic floor and pelvic girdle muscles undergo significant changes during pregnancy, labor and birth. Optimal pelvic health during pregnancy can help reduce musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, ease labor and birth, and help reduce postpartum complications. In 2018 the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology issued a statement acknowledging that postpartum care in the United States needs to be improved, suggesting the term “4th Trimester” should be used for the immediate postpartum period and that postpartum people/women need more care than what is currently being offered. All pregnant and postpartum people can benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy given the crucial role these muscles play during birth and how prevalent dysfunction is after birth. With new research emerging regularly, it has been shown time and time again that pelvic floor physical therapy reduces the risk of pelvic organ prolapse, urinary, bowel, and sexual dysfunction and pelvic pain. Research also shows the same for postpartum. But let’s be clear, there is no “one-size-fits-all” program. Programs should be tailored to the individual needs of each birthing person. This service aims to address just that.”
About Molly Bachmann, PT, DPT
Molly Bachmann PT, DPT is a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist and a Birth Doula. She also has taken advanced course work in fundamentals, advanced topics and intrapartum topics of Obstetrics through the American Physical Therapy Associations Academy of Pelvic Health. With this background, she is able to combine advanced knowledge of the musculoskeletal changes that occur during pregnancy and the postpartum period and an in-depth understanding of the physiology of birth to facilitate injury risk reduction and optimize rehabilitation after birth.
Take a look at these FAQs to get further insight into what a virtual session may look like:
- I am pregnant and not experiencing any symptoms but want to be better informed about the birthing process and how I can prepare my body for birth. What things might we work on in a virtual session?
- I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and empowering. Birth preparation will look different for each individual. Typically we start with education about anatomy and function of the pelvic musculature. During a virtual appointment, it is possible to screen for flexibility and mobility deficits that may make birthing more challenging. This helps us tailor a movement plan to your body’s needs. Additionally, we discuss available resources that may include additional in-person providers, online resources, and therapeutic props that may be particularly helpful while birthing.
- I’ve had an abdominal birth via cesarean section and my provider has told me that “I am cleared” but I still have pain, discomfort and feel unprepared to return to my previous level of activity. What can I do?
- Just like physical therapists are specialists in the musculoskeletal system and exercise science, physicians and midwives are specialists in making sure that both the birthing parent and baby have a safe birth and immediate recovery. When a provider states that one is “cleared,” all that really means is that red flags for immediate harm have been addressed and are no longer a concern. However we all know that healing is not linear and that just because an incision is closed or active bleeding has ceased you may not feel ready to return to activity or know where to begin. In virtual sessions, we discuss the healing process, screen for appropriateness for physical therapy or other rehabilitation providers, and offer resources that will help guide you and feel more confident in your recovery.
- I’ve never had a baby before and am really nervous because I don’t know what to expect. Can you help me?
- Absolutely! Birth can feel really overwhelming if you’ve never experienced it before. Sometimes it feels like there is no information available about what it is really like and other times it feels like everyone has an opinion making it difficult to sort through all the information. In the virtual session, we discuss expectations versus reality, your options in creating an effective team and plan, and resources for additional support.
- I’ve just had my 4th child and never had any issues with the first three, but now I’m experiencing vaginal pain with intercourse and urinary urge incontinence. I feel helpless and unable to integrate with my new family in ways that I want to. How do I know if PT is right for me?
- Every pregnancy and every birth is different, even if you feel they all went similarly. Physical therapy is right for anyone experiencing symptoms that are prohibiting them from engaging in activities and environments that are important to them. Let’s be clear, intercourse should never be painful unless you want it to be. Urinary leakage is common, but never normal. Unfortunately, this has been normalized for many postpartum people/women. If the symptoms you experience are distressing to any degree, seeking the help of a qualified physical therapist is a great first step. Knowing how to identify a qualified provider for your specific needs, what to expect from a session, what questions to ask, and more, are the kinds of things we can discuss in virtual sessions.
- I’m pregnant for the 3rd time, and experience pain in my pubic bone, outer hip and some urinary leakage. Many people have told me that this is normal for pregnancy. Is it really?
- Similar to dysfunction and pain postpartum, this can be common during pregnancy but should not be normalized. Each of these components can and should be addressed with specificity. We are committed to helping you get through your pregnancy with as little pain and dysfunction as possible. Similar to postpartum, knowing where to begin and who to work with is challenging. Let us help you figure out the right recovery path for you.
Pregnancy Awareness Month- Pregnancy & Postpartum Services (educational videos, pregnancy/postpartum blogs, plus more!)