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At Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, on any given day you might see certified lymphedema therapist Peg Maas, PT, DPT, performing lymphatic massage on a patient. But it's not because the woman has cancer, although she is a cancer survivor. It's because she's pregnant.


Specifically, Maas is seeing the patient because of fluid retention due to pregnancy. "I've had women who have been pregnant after having cancer and have had fluid management problems from their lymphedema," she explains. "We do lymphatic massage and compression the same as we do when women aren't pregnant. We don't leave the swelling alone and just say, ‘You're going to be puffed up because you're pregnant.' It's not just fluid, and it puts women at greater risk of infection."

Maas' experience is 1 example of what physical therapists (PTs) who focus on women's health can do to treat patients with and without specialized conditions during and after pregnancy. For this article, PT in Motion interviewed 5 PTs who all are board-certified clinical specialists in women's health physical therapy.

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MacArthur C, Wilson D, Herbison P, et al. Urinary incontinence persisting after childbirth: extent, delivery history, and effects in a 12–year longitudinal cohort study. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2016; 123(6):1022–1029. Accessed September 5, 2017.

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