Baby crawling in front of mother working out with dumbells

Your Body After Baby: Postpartum Physical Therapy

By Amanda Whiting, PT, DPT St. Luke’s Chequamegon Clinic

After having a baby, your body will do its best to heal on its own. If healing doesn’t happen the way it should, a physical therapist (PT) can help. That’s why it’s important to know what to expect during the healing process after delivery.

What to Expect 0 to 8 Weeks After Delivery

  • You may feel pressure, heaviness or bulging in your rectal or vaginal areas that leaves you not knowing how to best sit or stand.
  • Your back, hips or pubic area may hurt.
  • You may have difficulty controlling urine, gas or stools.
  • Your neck, arms, back or hips may be sore as you adjust to lifting and feeding your baby.
  • If you had a c-section, your scar is still healing and may feel itchy or tender. However, be sure to notify your doctor if there is excessive itchiness, redness, swelling, bleeding or pain.


What to Expect 8+ Weeks After Delivery

  • Bleeding should have stopped.
  • Incisions and tears should be healed.
  • You should be relatively pain free.
  • Bladder and bowel movements should be under control.
  • Your c-section scar should be healed.


Do I need physical therapy?

If you experience any of the following issues after 8+ weeks, it might be time to see a PT.

  • Ongoing back, pelvic, groin or abdominal pain
  • Leaking urine, gas or stool at any time, including when laughing, coughing, jumping, sneezing, lifting, walking or running
  • Leaking urine or stool when you feel a strong urge to go
  • Pressure or bulging in your vagina or rectum
  • Bulging of your abdomen during ANY exercise
  • Difficulty doing everyday activities because of pain, leakage, pressure or other symptoms of concern
  • Pain along your c-section scar
  • Pain or difficulty returning to sexual activity and/or wearing a tampon or menstrual cup
  • Difficulty improving your abdominal strength


After an evaluation, your physical therapist will work with you to develop a treatment program that is specific to your needs.

If you have questions about physical therapy, talk to your doctor. If you haven’t selected a doctor yet, get to know our expert team of OB-GYNs, Certified Nurse Midwives and Family Practitioners.

St. Luke’s Birthing Center is located in Duluth, MN, with St. Luke’s clinics in the surrounding region, including Superior, WI. To schedule a tour of St. Luke’s Birthing Center, call 218.249.5605.


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