In the medical world, there are “standard of care” guidelines for specific scenarios based on what some group of medical professionals had deemed best. It refers to the expected treatment approach for any given diagnosis or patient type. For example, at a 4-month prenatal appointment, the standard of care would likely include urine analysis, weight check, blood pressure check, fundus height measurement, and listening to the baby’s heartbeat. There are some things some practitioners will do an additional treatment or evaluation, but there is always a base standard of care. The medical community in the US has made childbirth a priority, however ongoing care of the mother after delivery is severely lacking.
The Tummy Team specializes in the physical care for mothers both prenatally and postpartum. We see many women who are practically falling apart when they come to us because they did not receive the physical treatment they needed after birth. Instead, they just pushed forward because that’s what was expected of them. It’s the sad but unfortunate truth and we want to do something about it. The Tummy Team would like to start a movement to improve the standard of care for mothers in the US.
We believe these four areas should be integrated into the US standard of care for mothers:
1.) Physical Birth Preparation
Mothers need to be physically prepared for the demands of pregnancy, labor, delivery and birth recovery. Birth is a unique physical event unlike anything they have ever done and the muscles of the core and pelvic floor need to be physically prepared to endure it. There is a common ‘disconnect and power through’ mentality that many women have adopted to get through labor. However, connection and coordination of the muscles is necessary and required for a safe and uncomplicated birth. The Tummy Team is passionate about helping moms physically prepare for birth and we have a very comprehensive Prenatal Core Training Program that can effectively do that.
2.) Evaluation and Treatment for Diastasis Recti
Diastasis recti is a serious complication often associated with pregnancy that is sadly overlooked in the medical field. We believe all prenatal and postpartum women need to be regularly evaluated for diastasis…and then treated! In most cases, diastasis is only evaluated if the patient requests to be checked. But even then, most medical professionals do not have the palpation skills to accurately assess the situation. Even if diastasis is caught, clients are usually told one of three things: there is nothing to be done, this is a normal side effect, or get a tummy tuck. But the truth is diastasis recti can be effectively treated with our core rehabilitation programs both prenatally and postpartum.
3.) Core Rehabilitation
It should be routine to evaluate the need for core rehab and then refer patients to specialists. Women should not need to be falling apart to get professional help; we believe all women should get core rehab so they don’t fall apart. The core muscles have been stretched excessively and then went through the rigors of birth. If we expect new mothers to be able to take care of themselves, a newborn and their family, they need an opportunity to regain their core strength. Specialized core rehabilitation, including abdominal rehab splinting and functional integration of the core, is essential to return mom to her pre-baby strength and activity level. Most physical therapists were not explicitly trained in the needs of postpartum mothers, so we developed our Core Foundations Online Program to help women everywhere meet these needs.
4.) Newborn Care Bio-mechanics
The chronic ‘parenting postures’ required of moms can be debilitating: nursing, baby-holding, diaper changing, car seat management, and so on. Carrying for a newborn all day is physically demanding. But when moms are struggling with a weak/damaged core, sleep deprivation and compromised nutrition, it is almost impossible. Giving mom the bio-mechanical training to relieve physical symptoms would dramatically improve her birth recovery. The Tummy Team approach to this is functional and realistic. We work with mothers before and after birth to develop strategies to best meet the needs of their newborn while supporting the physical needs of the mother.
(Speaking of which, we have an excellent resources page that gives tips on parenting postures and biomechanics.)
The reality is mothers need strength far beyond the immediate postpartum period. Building real, lasting, functional strength for life should be the goal of this care. And this is exactly what The Tummy Team employs with every client. Our hope is to help make this the new standard of care for all mothers. Please share this with your friends and medical providers. There is hope for life after birth. You do not need to suffer and power through it. Let us help you.