Pregnancy can be a beautiful time in a woman’s life. But for some, it can be a complete struggle. This is especially true for new mothers. Their bodies are going through strange changes. They may feel unable to do things they did prior to pregnancy. But occupational therapy for new mothers is a great way to help new mothers adjust to their new, 9-month life. Occupational therapists can open up a whole new world to pregnant women and new mothers. And, because everybody is different, all women will experience pregnancy differently. This makes OT during and after pregnancy a great way to cope with the changes, challenges, and triumphs mothers will face.
Occupational Therapy for New Mothers
First-time mothers will face similar challenges during both the pregnancy and postpartum stages of birth. Knowing what those challenges are and how to help is an OT’s number one job. They often begin by looking at your health experience and examining where your health stands now.
Throughout the first few weeks to one month of pregnancy, woman start to notice the physical changes their body makes. This can include swelling and painful breasts, increased urination, and nausea. Around the third month, however, is when women may want to visit their occupational therapist. During this time in pregnancy, new mothers will start to feel back aches as they tend to lean back to accommodate their new growing stomach. Aches and pains in the joints may also become more apparent during this and later stages of pregnancy.
Midway through pregnancy, women often start to feel fatigued and unable to lift, reach or move around as often as they previously had. This is due to the unborn babies increased movement. It is extremely important to monitor the food you eat which could increase any pains and harm the development of the baby. During the last three to four months of pregnancy, women will begin to have increase backaches, swollen or aching feet, breathlessness, stomach aches or overall soreness, loss of balance, and Braxton Hicks contractions. If you talk to your OT, they should be able to come up with ways to lessen those struggles.
During the delivery and after giving birth, new mothers face one of the hardest moments of the last nine months – recovery. Women can often tear or injure their lower body during and after birth making the next 6 weeks of healing more difficult. By having consistent meetings with your occupational therapist during your pregnancy, it may be easier to get through those few weeks. Many women have difficulty walking around or lifting their legs to shower and change after giving birth.
Benefits of Occupational Therapy for New Mothers
Occupational therapists specializing in prenatal and birth care can help with the issues listed above. One of the most common struggles they assist with is pelvic floor therapy. They also assist with pre and postnatal exercises. Many of these exercises can help:
-Strengthening core muscles
-Improve low back pain and pelvic pain
-Improve sleeping patterns
-Increase energy levels
-Increase flexibility, strength, and endurance
-Provide breathing techniques
-Regain posture and back strength
-Rebuild core muscles
-Relearn exercise techniques
-Mother-baby bonding experiences
-Learn play activities for the baby