Dos and Don’ts of PT in Pregnant and Post-Natal Patients

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Dos and Don’ts of PT in Pregnant and Post-Natal Patients

Physical therapists can help people from all walks of life have better function and mobility. It’s time to brush up on this specialty, as the benefits of physical therapy are tremendous for a healthy pregnancy and steady recovery. Keep in mind these basics. 


The body goes to great measures to accommodate pregnancy. These sudden changes can lead to discomfort, pain and decreased mobility. We can help to ease them through this time and show patients that they can strengthen themselves and prepare for labor. 

Lower Back Pain

It’s fairly common to have lower back pain in pregnancy. The body is having to work hard to compensate for additional weight from the stomach. 

· DO show patients how to maintain good posture and when to apply hot and cold treatments.

· DO encourage a prenatal massage.

· DO encourage them to squat to pick objects up. 

· DO NOT let patients bend over to pick objects up.


Often, a lot of pregnancy pain is due to certain parts of the body losing a range of motion, causing different parts to overcompensate for the stiffer movement in other areas. 

· DO encourage patient stretching. 

· DO educate patients on the benefits of stretching for labor. 

· DO show patients the proper ways to stretch their changing body

· DO NOT let patients stretch in compromising positions where they may fall.

· DO NOT let patients twist by the belly. 


It used to be that women were not encouraged to exercise while pregnant and to avoid stimulating activities altogether. However, research has found that it’s beneficial to continue with whatever workout level they were at before pregnancy. 

· DO encourage low impact activities. 

· DO show patients ways to get up safely and slowly.

· DO NOT let patients complete exercises that require them to lie on their backs for more than 3 minutes. 

· DO NOT exercise to the point of exhaustion. 


Once the patient’s OB has signed off on their six-week check, it’s okay to begin therapy. Many patients find themselves in unfamiliar territory at this point. Their bodies are different and they aren’t quite sure how to go about restoring muscle function. 

· DO encourage pelvic floor therapy if the patient describes pelvic pain and bladder problems. 

· DO show patients the right moves to help with diastasis recti. If a patient tries going back to basic crunches on their own, they can make the ab separation worse. 

· DO NOT encourage patients to return to their same level of exercise that they were pre-pregnancy. Be sure to emphasize the importance of rebuilding muscles slowly and the right way. 

Pregnancy and post-natal care have an extensive amount of treatments and diagnoses. Thankfully, PT has been shown to offer improvements for these patients. The main thing to remember is to take things slow, and if something doesn’t feel good, do not push past that point. At NARA, we are always looking for ways to improve in the therapy world. Come join us.