What is the timeframe for seeking postpartum rehab?
I think it is never too late. If you have issues from being pregnant or childbirth, there are always ways to improve that, even 10 years later.
Ideally, one should at least have one consultation with a postpartum specialist within 3 months of giving birth.
I know this is often an overwhelming time in life so it isn't always feasible, but people always ask what is best, and this is the time frame that I think is ideal.
Some moms come as early as 3-4 weeks postpartum if they are in pain or know they have a significant issue from childbirth and absolutely, earlier is better to address any issues.
A lot of moms also come see me around 9-15 months postpartum and this is also a good time if you had mild issues during pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum. Often by this time you and baby have more of a predictable routine and your attention can be away from baby for a little longer. You have more time between feedings, you are hopefully getting more sleep, etc. It is often just an easier phase of parenting to care for yourself a little more.
This 9-15 months postpartum is also a good time frame because your body has healed from the birth itself and so you don't have to wonder "Is it just going to take time to heal" at this stage, you are past that and so any lingering pain or unhealed issues can and should be addressed at this time.
Also, your hormones are more settled at this point. If you are breast/chest feeding or pumping your hormones will still play a role in healing, but they are more steady by 9+ months postpartum and not in those early postpartum hormone fluctuations.
Again for my athletic moms, this is also a good time to check in again with the PT because what you can do athletically now is much different than what you could do at 3-6 months postpartum. Going to see for the first time or returning for a check up with your PT at this stage is important to safely progress to more challenging core exercises or more intense HIIT classes or longer endurance runs or heavier weightlifting, whatever you love to do.
Then I have moms who never got postpartum rehab and feel like they still have abdominal separation or pelvic floor issues 3-10 years postpartum and I tell them, it isn't too late to make changes. Will some issues take more time to heal at this stage? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what the issue is and how severe it is. Again, the body has recovered from postpartum completely by now so that is in your favor for easier healing, but you may have developed habits or compensations which may take more time to reverse and create new habits or patterns.
I encourage everyone who has birthed a baby to at least check in with a postpartum/pelvic floor PT once, earlier is better, but it is never too late.