Eucon offers rehabilitation program for new mothers

Posted on Jun 02 2022

Dr. TJ Bellama stands next to his presentation of the CNMI Postpartum Program Tuesday last week as a guest speaker during the Rotary Club of Saipan weekly meeting at the Hyatt Regency Saipan Giovanni’s Restaurant. (LEIGH GASES)

Eucon Medical Health Services has a new service for mothers who have just given birth.

The Postpartum Rehabilitation Program that Dr. TJ Bellama just started at Eucon a few weeks ago will guide new mothers—specifically those who have just given birth less than a year ago— after the traumatic physical experience of giving birth.

Speaking at the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting Tuesday last week at the Hyatt Regency Saipan’s Giovanni’s Restaurant, Ballama said the new program is a guided recovery and exercise program for mothers who recently gave birth.

“No program exists in the CNMI to address the unique needs and challenges women face after delivering a child,” Bellama said. “There are no pelvic floor physical therapists in the CNMI to address complex cases related to damage during childbirth.”

Bellama, who has been with Eucon for over three years now, said that this absence of a postpartum rehabilitation program in the CNMI means that he has “had to treat more musculoskeletal issues related to childbirth than in any other location in the United States.”

Bellama took the opportunity “to develop a program and test it and see if this is something that could be provided as a model or a template for low resource or high resource areas across the world.”

In line with this, the Rotary presented Bellama with a $2,600 check to help with some of the expenses of the new program.

The objective of the program is to guide the physical recovery of mothers in the CNMI through an evidence-based exercise program, to provide a supportive, communal environment for mothers to focus on their recovery after childbirth, and to establish a sustainable program that does not rely on a specific provider to continue.

The goals that Bellama wishes to accomplish is to initially decrease the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in mothers after childbirth, to decrease the need for interventions related to organ prolapse in mothers after childbirth, and to decrease the prevalence of stress incontinence in mothers after childbirth.

“This program will consist of trained community members providing weekly exercise programs to mothers who have delivered babies within the last year. Mothers will be referred by the Obstetrics and Gynecology departments at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. to the Post-Partum Rehabilitation Program so it becomes a component of the standard postpartum clinical course,” Bellama said.

He said the exercise program will be evidence-based and tailored to the specific needs of postpartum mothers. “This model allows for flexibility in delivering the service depending on demand. It allows for the exercise program to be delivered in a culturally sensitive manner, utilizing the more positive outcomes that result when providers and patients have shared experiences and values. It also provides for a sustainable structure that does not rely on a specific healthcare provider to ensure continued operation.”

New mothers will learn techniques, learn the areas that they need to focus on, and learn the areas that they’re doing well, with the expectation that women don’t have to be perfect, that there are many ways to go about recovery, and that everyone is in a unique situation and that any participation is a win.

“We don’t make these mothers feel bad about not doing every last little bit of exercise we give them. We want to support them for participating and taking time for themselves…and rebuild themselves to be better for their families, and for their children. And that’s what we’re really trying to emphasize,” Bellama said.

Currently, the program is on Phase 1, the pilot program, which a single cohort of eight to 12 mothers will participate in a weekly exercise program for three months. CNMI-based funding and support will provide training to a single instructor. Child care will be provided on-site, and all the while the program will be assessed and appropriate changes in structure, funding, goals, and expectations will be made.

Phase 1 will be initiated islandwide programs of 10 to 15 mothers based on the findings and changes in Phase 1. The program will be made accessible to every woman who delivers a child each year in the CNMI and accessible to each community in terms of language, culture, cost, and location, and will in the future be funded by a federal grant.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at
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