Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Exercise; Pregnancy; Women's Health


The childbearing year for a woman is a time of physical change and adaptation that can potentially result in a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Acting as a clinician, educator, or consultant, physical therapists can offer a variety of services that would benefit women in their childbearing years. Despite the skilled services physical therapists have to offer, this population continues to display prevalent problems. As a result of these existing problems, a survey was constructed to provide direction for program development to promote the health and wellness of women in their childbearing years. The purpose of this study was to develop an understanding of what interventions are currently offered in the Devils Lake and Grand Forks, North Dakota communities to pre and postpartum women and compare it to an ideal treatment protocol addressing pelvic floor muscles, abdominals, posture, scar mobilization, and the cardiovascular system.

A survey was provided to women at their six-week postpartum physician appointment. Criteria included women over the age of 18, and the survey completed within six months of delivery.

Our results consisted of descriptive statistics from the 58 women studied. The most significant problems reported throughout pregnancy were low back pain and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Sixty one percent of women experienced SUI following an episiotomy, while only 4.3% of these women sought treatment. This common trend, high number of problems experienced with minimal treatment sought, was found throughout the survey. Other findings in the survey showed that walking was the preferred mode of exercise, and medical doctors and reading materials were most readily used resources.

The childbearing year is a time when the woman is susceptible to injury, and thus a time when dysfunctions could be prevented. Despite the available resources regarding this population, there is a gap in vital information concerning the health and wellness of this population. Through this survey, insight was gained on what issues women are educated on, prevalence of musculoskeletal dysfunctions, and also if treatment was sought. This study has shown the need for physical therapists specializing in women's health to get involved in programming and education of health care providers and women.