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Tags >> Pregnancy and Postpartum
Aug 14, 2014

Hip

In a recent study examining demographic and obstetric factors on sleep experience of 202 postpartum mothers, researchers report that better sleep quality correlated negatively with increased time spent on household work, and correlated positively with a satisfactory childbirth experience. Let's get right to the take home points: how are we addressing postpartum birth experiences in the clinic, and how can we best educate new mothers in self-care? You will find many posts in the Herman Wallace blog about peripartum issues, and you can access the link here

The authors recommend that healthcare providers "…should improve current protocols to help women better confront and manage childbirth-related pain, discomfort, and fear." Do you have current resources with which you can discuss these issues (and a referral to an appropriate provider) when needed? In our postpartum 

course, we highlight the challenges a new mother faces due to the commonly-experienced fatigue in the postpartum period. According to Kurth et al., exhaustion impairs concentration, increases fear of harming the infant, and can trigger depressive symptoms. Issues of lack of support, not napping, overdoing activities,, worrying about the baby, and even worrying about knowing you should be sleeping can worsen fatigue in a new mother. (Runquist et al., 2007) 

 

Back to what we can do for the patient: investigate local resources. This may include knowing what education is happening in local childbirth classes (and providing some training when possible), respectfully inquiring of new mothers how they are doing with sleep and demands of running a household (and business or work life), and finding out what support/resources the new mother has but is not accessing. Patients are often hesitant to ask for help, or may feel guilty in hiring someone to help clean for the first few months, feeling that she "should" be able to handle the chores and tasks. Educating women about results of the research and about potential improvements in quality of life can help the entire family. 

 


Aug 03, 2014

Hip

Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome, also known as PTSD, is an unfortunate consequence of many women's birth experiences. While there are known risk factors, there is not currently a standardized screening method for identifying symptoms of PTSD in the postpartum period. One recent meta-analysis of 78 research studies identified a prevalence of postpartum PTSD as 3.1% in community samples and as 15.7% in at-risk or targeted samples. Risk factors for PTSD included current depression, labor experiences (including interactions with medical staff), and a history of psychopathology. In the targeted samples, risk factors included current depression and infant complications. Other authors have explored the relationships between preterm birth and PTSD, preeclampsia or premature rupture of membranes, and infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. 

 

 

One of the main concerns of failing to identify and treat for PTSD in the postpartum period is the potential negative effect on the family. High levels of anxiety, stress, and depression may impact not only the mother's health, but also may affect her ability to meet her new infant's needs, or complete usual functions in work and home life. One study suggested that "…maternal stress and depression are related to infants’ ability to self-sooth during a stressful situation." Clearly, healthy moms promote healthy families, and each mother deserves the attention that her new infant often receives from the world! 

 

 


Jul 21, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT. Ginger will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Pregnancy" in New York this November.

 

yoga

Research has long confirmed the effects of maternal health on fetal development and outcomes. But scientific inquiry into the genesis of disease processes in an adult with no apparent risk factors has been uncharted territory until the last few decades.

 

The interrelationship between maternal stress and fetal “programming” was considered as early as the mid-1980’s, beginning with the suggested connection between poor nutrition in early life and adult disease. But the developmental origins of adult health and disease were not studied until the mid-1990’s, with little understanding of the etiology until the last two decades.

 


Jul 18, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT. Ginger will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Labor and Delivery and Postpartum" in Washington this August.

 

yoga

You may or may not realize that the United States has a very poor track record for postpartum care. In fact, the US has the worst track record for not only postpartum care, but for maternal and infant mortality and first-day infant death rate in the developed world (Save the Children 2013). Between 1999-2008, global mortality rates decreased by 34% while the US’s rates doubled for mothers (Coeytaux et al 2011).

 

In After the Baby’s Birth, maternal health advocate Robin Lim writes,

"All too often, the only postpartum care an American woman can count on is one fifteen minute appointment with her doctor, six weeks after she has given birth. This six week marker ends an arbitrary period within which she is supposed to have worked out most postpartum questions for herself. This neglect of postpartum women is not just poor healthcare, it is abusive, particularly to women suffering from painful physical and/or psychological disorders following childbirth."


Jul 08, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT. Ginger will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Labor and Delivery and Postpartum" in Washington this August.

 

Note: This post is for colleagues, patients, and friends whose greatest desire is to have a healthy baby via natural childbirth. In this article, natural childbirth refers to an unmedicated delivery of your baby, assisted with natural, non-pharmaceutical means. While not all women have the luxury of natural childbirth, and some choose other means, please know that Ginger’s course supports all women and their personal decisions about birth.

 

yoga

My first natural birth was December 27, 2005. After a long, hard labor that started on Christmas, my son Michael arrived safe and healthy into my arms.

 


Jun 20, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT. Ginger will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Labor and Delivery and Postpartum" in Washington this August.

 

yoga

Physical therapists often see women during pregnancy and postpartum, but what can physical therapists do to foster better birth outcomes?

 

A 2012 study conducted in Norway underscores the importance of childbirth education, which can take place as part of patient education and counseling in physical therapy. The study looked at 2206 women with intended vaginal delivery in order to assess the association between fear of childbirth and duration of labor. Labor duration was found to be significantly longer in women with fear of childbirth, with the rate of epidural analgesia, induction, and instrumental vaginal delivery also being higher in fearful women. The authors posit that “anxiety and fear may increase plasma concentrations of catecholamines, and high concentrations of catecholamines have been associated with both enervated uterine contractility and a prolonged second stage of labour.” (Adams et al 2012).

 


Jun 20, 2014

This post was written by guest blogger Laura E Nimon OTR/L, CLT-LANA. Laura will be attending Ginger Garner's course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Labor and Delivery and Post Partum " in Seattle this August.

 

 

From the time a woman hears the words “You’re pregnant” she becomes flooded with information regarding what she should/should not do to have a healthy pregnancy—but how much is accurate, and why is a healthy delivery not further discussed?

 

Over the last decade yoga has become a highly recommended form of exercise to maintain/improve flexibility and cardiovascular status in a gentle and safe manner. There is a plethora of information and sales directed to pregnant women and these women should be wary consumers as not all classes or home videos are safe due to the hormonal changes experienced in pregnancy that can exacerbate a prior joint condition or create one if an exercise is done improperly.

 


Jun 18, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT. Ginger will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Pregnancy" in New York this November.

 

yoga

Pregnancy brings the most enormous changes in a woman’s life, and is arguably the most profound change that the body can experience.

 

It is no secret that America claims the most shameful maternal health and birth outcomes in the developed world. For more information, read my previous post on American Childbirth: A Human Rights Failure? However, physical therapy can have quite a bit to do with turning those statistics around. Informing mothers about their right to access physical therapy can help improve birth statistics by improving a mother’s health and well-being, not just treating a case of pregnancy-associated low back pain or sciatica.

 


Jun 16, 2014

yoga

 

A recent literature review addressing the effectiveness of yoga for depression reports that the positive findings are promising. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that yoga was one of the top 10 complementary health approaches used among adults in the United States. (The linked page for the NHIS also includes a video of the scientific results of yoga for health.)

 

Yoga is not only about bodies bending- ancient yoga traditions offer physical, mental, and spiritual techniques that are designed to be holistic in nature. Many instructors in the US focus on the many physical benefits of yoga, yet there are many types of yoga, many instructors with varied levels of training, and many health issues that require an individualized program of yoga therapy. In relation to the potential effects of yoga on depressive symptoms, theories in neurobiology point to the potential positive effects on the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, according to the linked article by Lila Louie.

 

While none of the articles described in the literature review are specific to the one patient group or population, the subjects studied include incarcerated women, older patients, university students, and patients from the general population who struggle with depression. One group of patients known to be at risk for severe depression is postpartum women. The definition of postpartum varies, and a generous definition may include any issue that, once imparted in a postpartum period and left unaddressed, could persist throughout a woman's lifetime. This is commonly seen in the clinic as uncorrected postural dysfunction, pelvic floor dysfunction, or gait changes, for example.


May 23, 2014

Research by Wong and colleagues published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reported on the incidence of postpartum lumbosacral and lower extremity injuries. Of 6048 women who were interviewed, 56 had a new injury, confirmed by physiatrist evaluation. The researchers noted that "Women with nerve injury spend more time pushing in the semi-Fowler-lithotomy position than women without injury." The researchers also noted that women who were nulliparous (had not given birth previously), who had an assisted (forceps or vacuum) birth, or who experienced a prolonged second stage of labor, were at increased risk of nerve injury.

 

 

The most common nerves involved included the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, followed by the femoral nerve. Radiculopathies occurred at the L4, L5, and S1 levels. The authors make the following recommendations: changing positions frequently during the pushing phase, avoiding prolonged thigh flexion, avoiding extreme thigh abduction and external rotation. Other labor-related perineal nerve injuries have been documented by Sahai-Srivastava et al. to occur due to prolonged squatting or to prolonged pressure from birth attendants at the knees. 

 

 

The research by Wong and colleagues highlights the important of interviewing patients about past and current symptoms, birth histories including length of time spent pushing and in what positions a woman was pushing. Teaching a woman and her birth assistants about providing support to the birthing woman's body can be very helpful; a birthing woman may welcome support of a limb, yet avoiding over-compression or sustained positions without intermittent breaks may reduce risk of nerve injury. Because the authors also noted a correlation between nerve injuries and maternal pushing at higher fetal stations (the fetus had not descended as far into the birth canal), they recommend attempting to shorten active pushing time by allowing the fetus to descend further prior to pushing. (This concept in itself is a very interesting topic to be followed-up on in another post!)


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Sep 05, 2014 - Sep 07, 2014
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