Today I introduce you to Tiffany Nguyen PT, DPT Pelvic Health Specialist (CAPP), who is a physical therapist at Columbia Memorial Hospital, here in Astoria, Oregon. Her contribution to women’s health in our community is vital.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve been practicing as a physical therapist since 2005 and specializing in women’s health since 2008, when my son was born. He was a 10 lb baby delivered naturally at Andaluz Birthing Center in Tualatin, OR. Needless to say, it was a challenging birth as I was in labor for 70+ hrs. The symptoms I dealt with after the birth gave me more reason to further my education in this area.
How do you serve postpartum women?
As a women’s health specialist, I specialize in treating prenatal/postnatal women with musculoskeletal conditions (e.g. back pain, feet pain, SIJ pain etc.). Under the women’s health umbrella for physical therapy, I am a pelvic health specialist, treating patients (male and female) with different pelvic floor related conditions: urinary/fecal incontinence, pelvic pain, constipation, urinary retention, dyspareunia, pelvic floor muscular weakness etc.
What message do you have for all mothers?
My biggest advice for postpartum women is to find a way to be physically active after delivery. It helps boost your energy level, decreases symptoms of postpartum depression and gives you the physical strength and endurance needed to care for your child. However, it is important to ease yourself into an exercise program, as you can easily hurt yourself, due to the laxity in your ligaments. The ligaments stay lax due to the relaxin hormone that gets released during pregnancy, after pregnancy and while nursing. It will be beneficial to consult with an exercise professional who is aware of the bodily changes after pregnancy.
How early would you recommend women get back into physical activity? Is there a set number of weeks or certain recovery milestones you go by?
In terms of easing yourself into exercise postnatally, everybody’s body is different. If you were exercising at a moderate level during prepregnancy, you might want to scale it back to low level after delivery. More specifically, you can cut it back to 25% of the intensity you were at prior to pregnancy. The biggest key is to listen to your body and not push past your limits. If you had a cesarean, or an episiotomy or any surgery during the delivery, you definitely need to wait at least 6 weeks before attempting to exercise. If you sustained perineal tearing during delivery, then it is best to wait until it heals and the pain is gone before getting into a rigorous exercise regime. There’s no cookie cutter answer to this, as everybody is different. That’s why I recommend seeing an exercise health professional (PT’s/personal trainers/ etc) who are familiar with bodily changes and precautions following delivery.