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Baby Portrait

What is
Perinatal Occupational Therapy?

In a perfect world, every woman would have a maternal health occupational therapy practitioner to support her through the perinatal period.


A perinatal occupational therapy practitioner is the professional that needs to be added to the standard support team throughout preconception, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journeys.


Maternal health occupational therapy completes the picture for mom and baby by addressing the areas of her life that can oftentimes get overlooked, but are essential to optimizing her physical and mental health, family and home life, and baby's development.


Occupational therapy provides the tools and the education to navigate the difficult and fulfilling role of motherhood.  

Baby's Grasp

Why You Need a Perinatal Occupational Therapy Practitioner

There is limited research on how occupational therapy practitioners can address the occupational challenges occurring during the role transition to motherhood (Pollari et al., 2022). Additionally, when it comes to the role of occupational therapy on the perinatal healthcare team, this role is not well recognized amongst the medical staff or other occupational therapy practitioners (Pollari et al. 2022).


For these reasons, OT within the perinatal healthcare team continues to be an emerging practice area with a limited number of occupational therapy practitioners involved with this population. Improving the recognition of the role of occupational therapy on the perinatal healthcare team amongst the maternal healthcare team, including occupational therapy practitioners could ultimately prove beneficial for this population as their holistic needs are being met.


Another potential benefit of greater recognition of the role of occupational therapy within the perinatal healthcare team is that it could generate more involvement of occupational therapy practitioners within this setting, as well as increased referrals from other medical professionals.

A recent qualitative study on the experiences and needed supports of new mothers stated that the role of occupational therapy in perinatal healthcare can include education, modifications to routines, and addressing occupational imbalance (Pollari et al., 2022).  Occupational therapy practitioners are trained to address the psychosocial, physical, and emotional needs of individuals across a variety of contexts and settings, while implementing interventions for improved engagement in meaningful occupations (Staenberg, 2012).


Occupational therapy practitioners can play a unique role in assisting women throughout the perinatal period including during preconception, pregnancy, labor and birth, through their role transition into motherhood, and during postpartum by giving them specific, client-based tools to address the occupational needs of themselves, their newborn, and their families.

How Perinatal Occupational Therapy
Can Help

Family Planning
Image by Camylla Battani
Tiny Feet
Mother Baby Bonding


Labor & Birth



Whether a mother is at the beginning of her IVF, IUI, or conception planning journey, a perinatal OT can help her navigate the challenges and support her through the wins.

  • Balancing Treatment Schedules

  • Emotional & Mental Support During Treatment

  • Physical & Mental Preparation for Pregnancy, Labor & Birth, & Postpartum

A perinatal OT can help a mother prepare her body, her mind, her family, and her home for the new arrival.

  • Pregnancy Pain & Discomfort

  • Physical Recovery Preparation

  • Home Set Up

  • Maternity Leave

  • Plan for Household Management & Division of Labor

  • Mental Preparation for Birth & Recovery

The labor and birth journey will be optimized by having a perinatal OT on hand before, during, and immediately after birth. Mom and her family's needs will be addressed as the OT fills in the gaps in services to complete her labor and birth experiences.

  • Breathing & Relaxation Techniques 

  • Advocacy 

  • Positioning for Labor & Birth

  • Providing an Optimal Sensory Environment

A perinatal OT is a must-have for a postpartum support team. 

  • Feeding Positioning & Support

  • Starting Solids

  • Supporting Optimal Sensory Environments

  • Overstimulation

  • Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders

  • Balancing Daily Routines 

  • Physical Recovery

  • Baby Development

  • Preparation for Maternity Leave & Return

  • Return to Leisure & Social Participation

  • Nutrition & Physical Activity

Welcome to our
Online Course

Whether you are a practicing OT practitioner, a student of OT, a perinatal and maternal healthcare professional, a mother,

or a curious human, this course is for you!


Perinatal occupational therapy is an emerging practice area that continues to gain the interest of students and practitioners alike. 

There is a need for OT practitioners to become educated about the role that they have with perinatal women in order to fill in the gaps in services for this population,

ultimately facilitating a smoother transition into motherhood.

This course is freely accessible and contains a summarization of current literature surrounding the subject matter. We recommend starting from the beginning with Part 1: Before Baby Arrives, then moving onto Part 2: Postpartum to learn about the occupations of mothers, the barriers that they may encounter in terms of occupational participation and performance, and  the role that OT has with perinatal women.



This webpage and online course was created as part of a doctoral capstone project, in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Doctoral of Occupational Therapy Degree from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.

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