Why Postpartum Rehabilitation?

According to modern medicine, some of the traditional methods of spending the postpartum month – such as not washing one’s hair or taking a shower, wearing long trousers and long-sleeved blouses, eating a lot more for better health, sleeping a lot and moving around very little – may bring no benefit at all. From pregnancy to labor, women experience radical changes of hormonal levels and their body systems undergo various changes in the process. Many women may experience a loose belly, difficulty in walking, incontinence, and other common problems.

The main causes of all these are diastasis recti abdominis, symphysiolysis, and pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Postpartum rehabilitation helps solve these problems using well-targeted measures but many people don’t do it simply because it’s not part of the traditional way of spending the first postpartum month. Many mums may still suffer from incontinence and various pains four or five years after childbirth. In addition, problems such as postpartum depression, obstructed mammary ducts (mastitis), fat accumulation, scars, De Quervain’s tendinitis, and heel pain, may also need support from professional OBGYN rehabilitation therapists, psychiatrists, and nutritionists.

Scientific postpartum rehabilitation is nothing like traditional postpartum care. Only well-targeted measures can bring lifelong benefits to both mum and baby. The following three postpartum symptoms are commonly overlooked:

Urine leakage: When laughing, coughing, sneezing or trying to lift something heavy, or do anything that may increase abdominal pressure, one may experience urine leakage. This is medically known as stress incontinence. Statistics show that more than one-third of mums experience this for 3-6 months or even up to several years. The pelvis is made up of the ilium, pubis, sacrum, and ischium. Though it is shaped like a bowl, this bowl does not really have any bone as its bottom. Instead, the bottom is formed with a number of muscles. The muscles are like a hammock, holding up heavy weight. In normal cases, the pelvic floor muscles support mainly internal organs and the vertebrae, stabilize the pelvis, controls urination and defecation, and supports sexual intercourse. During pregnancy and labor, hormones relax the pelvic floor muscles and soft tissues and during labor, the muscles are strongly pulled and may even suffer from tears. Lateral episiotomy is also possible. These physical changes and wounds may cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken and higher the risk of postpartum incontinence and uterine prolapse.

Lower back pain: Statistics show that the occurrence of postpartum lower back pain is up to 45%-76%. But many people just bear the pain and hope for it to disappear naturally. However, instead of going away, the pain may actually get worse. Some mums still suffer from it several years after childbirth and their quality of life may even be seriously affected in some serious cases. The reason for postpartum lower back pain is that during pregnancy, the pelvic and vertebrate ligaments become loose so the lower back becomes less stable. In the meantime, diastasis recti abdominis reduces the strength of the abdominal muscles, thus giving less support to the lower back. Also, using wrong positions when taking care of the baby and excessive weight gain during pregnancy may also be causes of the pain.

Postpartum depression: Up to 40-80% of postpartum women experience symptoms of mild depression such as difficulty concentrating or sleeping. This may peak on the fifth day after labor. If the symptoms fade away within two weeks, it may just be baby blues, which is nothing out of the ordinary. If the following symptoms last longer, it may be postpartum depression: difficulty sleeping, extreme fatigue, anxiety, anger, irritation, guilt, powerlessness, inability to take care of the baby, or the feeling of being a total failure as a mother.