Rehabilitation Program Helps New Moms with C-Section Recovery

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Provided by Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

Women who give birth by Caesarian section face different challenges in recovery than women who have vaginal births. A unique postpartum therapy program that helps new moms with pain, incontinence, shortness of breath, safe movement and other issues following a c-section birth has been created at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center (SNVMC).

“It’s physical and emotional,” says Jasmine Dockett, Occupational Therapist with SNVMC, who championed the program from the medical center based in Woodbridge. “Maternal death is on the rise, and 60 percent of maternal death from depression and suicide are preventable with intervention and support.”

Getting out of bed safely with a c-section incision is a learned skill, Dockett says, especially if you’ve been on bedrest. Occupational and physical therapists are able to spend more time with patients than nurses and doctors, in the privacy of patients’ rooms. They can pick up on subtle signs that new Moms with c-sections may need help with physical and emotional recovery, while bonding with their newborns.

“There’s pain management on top of breast feeding and skin time,” Dockett adds. “There’s proper breathing, positioning, stretching and circulation, using a compression garment and getting to that first bowel movement so you can go home. There’s body mechanics, ergonomics and infant care all going on at the same time. It’s a lot to manage and we can help with that.”

For her work championing this new postpartum therapy program, Dockett was awarded a 2024 Healthcare Council Employee of the Year Award at the Healthcare Council’s annual awards luncheon at Congressional Country Club.

Celeste Vasquez recently welcomed her sixth child at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center and spoke of the experience, “The physical therapy has been amazing and so valuable. Jasmine helped me so much by showing me ways to move and the best ways to do the things that I need to do to take care of my new baby while I’m also recovering from a cesarean section, which is a major surgery. I’ve had children before including two sets of twins, and I’ve have had a c-section before, but this is the first time I’ve ever had a Physical Therapist work with me to help me with healing and all that comes with being a new mom. And even dad has learned ways to help me recover and help care for our new daughter.”

“Using the skills and expertise of the Rehabilitation Services team is not something traditionally found in the labor and delivery department,” said SNVMC President Jeff Joyner.

The Postpartum Rehab program is being offered at Sentara hospitals with Family Maternity units in Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Elizabeth City. Therapists have all passed an intensive two-day training program, focused the Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs, as well as mental and emotional health of new Moms.

To learn more about Sentara’s maternity services, visit


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