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Having a Baby the French Way: postpartum physical therapy

Updated: Mar 26

A new mom walking in Paris, in front of the Eiffel Tower

Did you know that in France, all new moms receive pelvic floor physical therapy, automatically? After giving birth, all women are prescribed 10 sessions of rééducation périnéale (perineal reeducation) to rebuild the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. These sessions are routinely provided, regardless of symptoms, and paid for by the government.



In other words, France takes postpartum health seriously and prioritizes women's pelvic health after delivery.


The United States does not.


The Gap in Postpartum Pelvic Health in the United States


A woman jumping over a huge gap in the mountains

Typically in the US, there is no preventative care after giving birth; you're only referred to a pelvic physical therapist if you already have bladder leakage, pelvic organ prolapse, bowel control problems, or pelvic pain. There are no safeguards in place to ensure new moms learn how to safely recover their pelvic floor and core muscles to help PREVENT problems.


This is a huge gap in the care of new moms! After months of meticulous prenatal care, you are dropped like a hot potato, with typically one post-delivery medical appointment on the horizon. You are often left on your own to self-diagnose and guess at what is "normal" after having a baby, and what's not. If you do inquire about symptoms, you might be told

  • "That's normal after having a baby"

  • "It takes time"

  • "It’ll go away"

  • "Call back if it doesn't get better"


There's no automatic follow-up; it’s all on you, a new mom caring for a new baby, to advocate for yourself and fight for the care and guidance you need. Without care, 1 in 3 women have lasting health problems—this is unacceptable. We can do better.


The Answer: A Routine 6-Week Postpartum Pelvic PT visit

A new mom triumphantly holding up her new baby as she walks after getting postpartum PT care she deserves

Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

Postpartum pelvic physical therapy is the standard of care in France, and it should be the standard of care in the United States. Making a 6-week postpartum virtual PT visit routine is a great start.


Healing the pelvic floor and core muscles are just as important to a woman's quality of life as healing the uterus after birth, so the typical 6-week postpartum visit should be expanded to include not only seeing an OB or midwife, but also seeing a pelvic health physical therapist.


“Not peeing your pants for the rest of your life” shouldn’t be a luxury afforded just to those women who are lucky enough to be living in a country that takes postpartum health seriously.


Telehealth Postpartum Physical Therapy

A new mom signing on to her computer for her telehealth physical therapy session
Postpartum physical therapy via telehealth

Getting great care after baby doesn't need to be complicated. But unless you live in France, you will need to advocate for yourself and search out this service, and schedule your own postpartum PT appointment.


Find a pelvic health PT who offers telehealth, and you won't even need to leave your home or find a babysitter! In fact, if you live in California, Colorado, Florida or Illinois, you can schedule your virtual BounceBack 6-Week Postpartum PT Session with me here:



If you live in another state, you can find another qualified pelvic floor therapist by asking your doctor or midwife for a recommendation, or consulting a national directory such as the one here. You can also call your local physical therapy providers and inquire if they provide pelvic floor therapy.


It may be helpful to do this research before baby arrives, so you are all ready to go once the baby comes.


It's time for women in the United States to demand the same standard of postpartum care as in France—you deserve it!



If you have just had a baby, or if you are having any symptoms of pelvic floor or core muscle dysfunction, you can schedule a free virtual consultation with me here.


 

About the Author:

Angela is a licensed physical therapist and owner of My Pelvic Therapy, an innovative virtual physical therapy practice designed to provide discreet, at-home solutions for women navigating common pelvic floor problems such as bladder leakage, pelvic organ prolapse, and discomfort during intimacy. She received her physical therapy degree from Duke University, biology degree from University of Illinois, and has been a pelvic health specialist for 21 years.


You can contact Angela at angela@mypelvictherapy.com. You can also find her on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

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