How Physiotherapy Alleviates Pregnancy Symptoms and Prepares You for Birth
Nine months can seem more like nine years for a mother-to-be. Between the cravings, the swollen feet, the aching back, and the sore muscles, it may feel like the big day will never come. While your body is going through a lot of serious changes, when your little one finally arrives, you’ll notice that those nine months have gone by in the blink of an eye.
But with all the planning, prepping, and anticipation, it’s easy to get caught up in your pre-natal transition and forget to take care of yourself during pregnancy. That’s where physiotherapy comes in. It’s a great method to help with labour preparation, pain, injury, and prevention.
Is Physiotherapy Safe During Pregnancy?
Many expectant mothers wonder whether physiotherapy is dangerous to perform during pregnancy. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. Although there are a variety of reasons one might decide to visit a physiotherapist, pregnancy and women’s health are among the most popular.
Physiotherapy is perfectly safe, especially during early pregnancy. It is one of the most effective ways of keeping pregnancy-related aches and pains to a minimum and improve your mobility, paving the way for a much smoother pregnancy and labour. Chiropractic medicine is also an effective method for treating certain symptoms of pregnancy, but physiotherapy treats a broader range of problems and concerns.
If you were already seeing a physiotherapist pre-pregnancy, they may need to adjust your treatment plan more than once, to adapt to your changing body and to accommodate for the little life you’re about to bring into the world. For example, acupuncture and dry needling are not recommended for pregnant women. High-intensity treatments may also need to go on the back burner for now and be replaced with gentler pre-natal exercises.
Your physiotherapist may also change the types of topical creams and lotions they prescribe, especially if the current ones are made with essential oils. If medication is part of your physio routine, your physiotherapist may switch you to a more natural pain relief alternative.
Great, So How Does Physiotherapy Help?
Soothes Lower Back Pain and Sciatica
Between 50 and 70 per cent of pregnant women experience back pain or issues with the sciatic nerve at the base of the spine. This can usually be attributed to changes in hormone levels, a shift in your center of gravity, added weight and stress or a decline in posture.
Pre-natal physiotherapy targets the source of the problem that may be causing your back pain. Treatment plans for back pain and sciatica can include anything from posture correction, joint alignment and muscle strengthening, to flexibility exercises and nerve repair.
Reduces Swelling of Limbs
During pregnancy, the body retains more fluid than usual. Gravity causes this fluid to pool in the hands, feet, and ankles, which can result in mild to severe swelling. To relieve this symptom, physiotherapists use a lymphatic drainage massage to push the fluid toward the lymph nodes, which are responsible for fluid absorption and the removal of waste and toxins.
Your physiotherapist will use slow and gentle massage strokes on the problem areas, giving you instant pain relief and even an improved range of motion.
Most of the back, muscle, and pelvic pain women experience during pregnancy can be attributed to poor posture. With the added weight and the shift in your center of gravity, it can be difficult to notice when you’re failing to maintain proper posture.
Physiotherapy uses core stability training to correct this over time. Even after the baby arrives, you should continue implementing core stability into your physical routine – it will improve your bone mass and reduce the likelihood of post-partum falls and fractures.
Prepare For Labour
The days and weeks leading up to the due date can be a stressful time for a soon-to-be mother, especially when you’re not sure what to expect. Luckily, your physiotherapist will be there to answer your questions, give you peace of mind and make sure you’re as ready as you can be.
As the big day draws nearer, they will be able to suggest movements or exercises to help position the baby to come out of the body. Your physiotherapist can also use hands-on pain relief techniques and help facilitate the opening of the pelvis, which can help the labour to go more smoothly.
Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation for Urinary Incontinence And Organ Prolapse
The urinary incontinence that occurs during and after pregnancy is a running joke in mommy groups – “all it takes is one sneeze, then it’s Niagara Falls!” Although it’s totally normal to experience a weakened pelvic floor (hypotonicity) during and after pregnancy, it can still be extremely frustrating. In severe cases, it can cause vaginal prolapse, or the prolapse of other organs below the pelvis.
Many times, daily Kegels alone won’t be enough to resolve this issue. In some cases, Kegels can even make matters worse – especially if you’re not doing them properly. This is what your physiotherapist is for. They will help you develop and stick to a safe treatment plan with strengthening exercises that are tailored specifically to you.
Many women over the course of their pregnancy experience either temporary or persistent dyspareunia, or extremely painful intercourse. Many women simply stop engaging in intercourse when this happens, but in reality, there’s no need! Dyspareunia can be treated quickly and efficiently with physiotherapy.
During pregnancy, Dyspareunia is usually caused by injury, tension or hyperactivity of the pelvic floor muscles. It can also be caused by stress. To treat this, your physiotherapist will use a combination of core exercises, manual therapy (to mobilize the tissue) and even biofeedback or gentle electrical stimulation, to relax the overactive muscles.
This is more of a post-natal treatment suggestion, but for all you C-Section moms, physiotherapy may be just what you need to speed up your recovery and shrink your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size. By stimulating the surrounding muscle tissues underneath and around your uterus, your physiotherapist will help the incision area heal more quickly and even encourage your body to expel any remaining afterbirth.
Seeking physiotherapy after a Caesarian operation can also improve pulmonary function, reduce a new mother’s risk of contracting pneumonia, and even prevent vascular or gastrointestinal complications post-surgery.
If your pregnancy symptoms are driving you up the wall, it might be time to consider physiotherapy. Your physiotherapist will not only alleviate those symptoms, but you’ll have access to a wealth of professional knowledge and advice to help you prep for labour and even speed up your post-partum recovery.
Book an appointment with one of Elysian Wellness Centre’s licensed physiotherapists today and let us turn those aches, pains, and frayed nerves into excitement and peace of mind.