Postpartum Care with Thrive Maternal

If you’ve ever given birth, you know that the norm is to schedule a 6 week postpartum checkup with your doctor, and be on your way. This is so different than the postpartum care new moms in other countries receive. Fortunately, there are resources like Thrive Maternal Care that believe you deserve better. Caring for your pelvic floor is a big part of helping moms thrive in the postpartum time period.

I recently had a chat with occupational therapist, Isabel Hartounian at Thrive Maternal Care to find out how she helps new moms thrive after giving birth. Read on to find out!

close of of a pregnant woman's belly in a blue dress with her and her husband's hands on her belly

Tell me about yourself and your occupational therapy practice.

I help moms navigate everyday functioning in pregnancy and postpartum. I provide in-home pelvic floor therapy so it’s one less thing to plan. I am a mom of two kids and a licensed occupational therapist of 13 years. My background is in pediatrics, family-centered care, maternal mental health and trauma-informed care. After my own pregnancy and postpartum experiences, I found pelvic floor therapy to be so helpful and became passionate about becoming trained in it.

What is so important about the pelvic floor?

Our pelvic floor is responsible for all of our most intimate daily activities, like toileting and sexual intimacy. It’s also an area of the body that can really contribute to aches and pains and slow recovery after birth. For pregnant and postpartum moms, the pelvic floor can be a big mystery with little guidance on how to care for it. I think there is a myth that moms just have to deal with leaking and discomfort because they had a baby. Many conditions can be feel out of your control, but there is so much we can address so that you feel educated and empowered about your body!

Your practice focuses on mom’s well being in addition to pelvic floor health. What prompted you to expand beyond pelvic floor therapy, and into the overall wellbeing of moms?

We are more than our physical symptoms and challenges. Moms are experiencing pain, weakness, incontinence while they are also living their lives – caring for themselves, caring for their family, managing their roles at home, at work, and in the community. I want to treat moms as a whole person. Which activities are getting harder to do? Which physical and mental symptoms are making daily activities challenging? How can I help with a mom’s functioning and life satisfaction?

How does OT pelvic floor therapy differ from PT pelvic floor therapy?

Pelvic floor therapy is post-graduate coursework for both OTs and PTs. The basic pelvic assessments and treatments can be done by both specialities. From there, every therapist has their own tools in their toolbox, specialized training, clinical experience and passions. As an occupational therapist, I am looking at how physical and mental symptoms are affecting a person’s daily functioning – how they participate in their life activities. Are there certain ergonomics or habits/routines that are making things worse? How can we collaborate to make manageable changes so that they feel better? My goal is to be realistic with recommendations so that they are manageable and not overwhelming.

What should someone expect at their first session?

The first visit is an initial 90 minute evaluation in your home and I bring a massage table and supplies. It is completely ok if your children are home during the appointment and we can find ways to include them. Our first visit will be a chance to get to know each other. We will chat about your concerns and what you would like to get out of our sessions. We will look at your posture and how you perform functional movements (sit, stand, get to the floor and up, pick up children, etc.). We can move to the massage table where I can assess your breathing and core function. With your consent, we can do the internal vaginal assessment where I check for tightness, asymmetry, scar tissue and muscle function. Your comfort and cues are of the utmost importance and I will stop at any point with no pressure. You are always allowed to change your mind. My goal at the end of the first session is that I leave you with something (whether it’s a recommendation, an exercise, or education).

What Bay Area locations to you serve?

I am located in San Jose and serve moms living within 30 minutes.

Does insurance cover occupational therapy?

Depends on the insurance plan. I recommend asking your medical provider for a referral to pelvic floor therapy or pelvic floor occupational therapy. We choose to be an out-of-network provider, but we can provide a superbill that you can submit to insurance for out-of-network reimbursement upon request. You will have my full attention and care without being limited by a 30 min session or by insurance-based goals. We want to be able to address the mental and emotional parts of pelvic therapy and postpartum wellness that are unique to you at your own pace.

What do you want moms reading this to know?

Postpartum is ANY amount of time after giving birth, from the newborn stage to 10+ years later. It is never too late to start pelvic floor therapy.

For more information visit the FAQ page on Thrive Maternal’s website! Thanks so much, Isabel, for informing us about pelvic floor occupational therapy in the bay area!

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Bay Area Doulas to Guide You Through Your Birth

San Francisco Midwives

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