What to expect for your Postnatal Body Check
We highly recommend that all women are seen for a “postnatal body-check” after having a baby, regardless of whether you end up having a C-Section or Vaginal delivery. The pelvic floor muscles sit like a hammock in the base of the pelvis, so carrying a baby through to term can put a lot of strain through the muscles, regardless of delivery type. In addition, the abdominals have to stretch and change to allow room for the baby to grow, and it is important to check how they are functioning and coping postpartum.
We usually recommend coming in any time after 6 weeks, once you feel comfortable and ready to do so. When you come in, wear something you are comfortable to move in, ideally, something that the physio can see how you move eg. leggings, tracksuit, stretchy jeans etc.
When you come in for your appointment, your Women’s Health Physiotherapist will ask you lots of questions regarding:
- Your pregnancy journey
- Your goals moving forward.
We will then perform a thorough physical assessment including assessing:
Abdominals (Tummy muscles):
- Diastasis Recti Measurement (separation between abdominals)
- Visualize muscle activation patterns with real-time ultrasound
- Scar assessment and education re: management for C-Section
We can assess this in a few different ways, including:
Internal Vaginal Assessment:
As physio’s, we do not use a speculum device, but just one or two gloved digits to assess all the different muscles of the pelvic floor; strength, endurance and quick squeeze ability as well as assessing for any laxity in the tissues or pain.
If you have experienced any tearing or episiotomy, we will assess and treat any dysfunction or pain arising from this.
Real-Time Ultrasound Assessment:
If you do not feel comfortable doing an internal assessment, we can also assess the pelvic floor by visualizing them through ultrasound. We can still assess lift, endurance and quick squeezes; however, we will not be able to test the “strength” of the muscle or laxity in vaginal tissue via this technique.
General movement and posture
During pregnancy, our posture changes a lot to accommodate the growing baby. Postpartum, there are many new positions and activities like breastfeeding, lifting and changing the baby that put strain on our backs and necks. For this reason, we will assess your posture and provide you with some education and exercises as needed.
During pregnancy there are also hormonal changes that allow our tummy to stretch and grow, but that can also affect other ligament and connective tissues. We will assess how you are moving with functional movement testing, and whether there are any muscles that potentially need help activating or strengthening.
As discussed above, the changes during pregnancy and new movements and postures postnatally can lead to pain in joints or muscles. We will discuss some tips around what might help or what to avoid, and provide “hands on” physiotherapy including joint mobilization or soft tissue massage as needed.
We will discuss what you were doing exercise wise “pre-pregnancy” and what your goals are moving forward. We will help design a plan and program to get you where you need to be, and provide you with some education in terms of timeline.
We will then send you a personalized, progressive home exercise program to your email, to help you get to your goals and back to feeling strong and pain-free.
If you have any further questions regarding the post-natal body check assessment or treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us and one of our physiotherapists will get back to you as soon as possible.