Pregnancy and childbirth are two very physical events that can impact your body in a major way. Not to mention the recovery process post-partum. For decades, women have been told that pelvic floor or core dysfunction is simply a part of having a baby. “Just do your Kegels and you’ll be fine” OR “pain is normal during pregnancy and the post-partum recovery”. However, with new research and medical professionals like pelvic floor physiotherapists there is so much you can do to help reduce your pain and improve your function.
Our passion is to prepare pregnant women as best we can. Get their spine and pelvis moving ideally, improve core strength, as well as optimize pelvic floor health.
There are some basic things we’d like to share with you regarding how we can improve the pregnancy, delivery, and post-partum experience.
Why you should see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist prenatally:
Childbirth is the most physically rigorous thing most of women will ever do. A prenatal massage is a type of pregnancy massage therapy specifically designed for expecting mothers. It’s similar to a regular full-body massage, but with some modifications to ensure the safety and comfort of the mother and her baby.
Everyone has such different experiences. Even the same women with her subsequent pregnancies experience this. Things have changed as well from our parents or grandparents generations. Research is conducted and more up to date evidence-based recommendations are released.
Just like running a marathon, birth is an event that requires stamina, strength, endurance, and resilience of body. And many pregnant moms don’t realize it but post-partum is an even longer time where your physical capacity is tested day in and day out. Especially if you haven’t been proactive at your pelvic care prenatally.
Therefore your 40 weeks of pregnancy and this is the perfect time to get prepared for the physical demands of not only childbirth but of life with baby. Working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist during your pregnancy will help:
1) Ease or prevent low back pain:
Low back pain can impact a pregnancy woman’s quality of life from day to day but more significantly when they can no longer get a restful sleep. Or must go on a early maternity leave because they can’t tolerate their job any longer.
Your physical body changes to accommodate the needs of your growing baby. It’s normal to experience aches and pains. We can do hands on manual therapy (joint mobilizations, soft tissue release, muscle energy techniques, stretching and so forth), exercise prescription ( stretches, core strength, and KEGELS!). As well as tips on pain relief techniques (trigger point release, relaxation techniques, etc.) for home and much education on birth prep and post-partum care.
2) Prepare you physically ( both internally and externally)
Pregnancy, delivery, and post-partum experience can be tough to say the least.
Not to mention life running after a toddler! It is important to have ideal low back and pelvic movement or as us Physios says “range of motion”. It is also important to develop your core, overall full body strength, and of course pelvic floor strength & endurance. Your core strength includes activating the small stability muscles that connect each vertebrae to another in your spine. This is like activating and training your inner corset to help keep your spine stable and minimize the risk of injury, overuse, or postural issues. The ability to relax your pelvic floor is just as important as contracting it. Many women do not do their Kegels properly or do not know how to do them at all. That’s why we’re here to help coach you through this!
A common myth is “just do your Kegels and you’ll be fine”. Pelvic floor Physiotherapists couldn’t disagree more. A large portion of people have lots of muscle tone or tightness in the pelvic floor. Muscles that are too short or too long can’t work properly. It is very important for us pelvic physiotherapists to help reduce this muscle tension, help stretch the pelvic floor musculature, as well as teach you how to contract and relax properly. This is so important for all women’s health but especially during the pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum period.
3) Reduce Incontinence
Women and men of all ages can experience incontinence. This means losing the ability to control bowel or bladder functions. It can range from mild to significant loss. This can be due to trauma, hormonal changes, surgery, low back or pelvic injuries and so forth. Pelvic floor physiotherapy as stated above treats you physically but also coaches you on how to optimize pelvic floor health.
This would less help lessen and hopefully abolish incontinence symptoms. Often if you are proactive enough, we can hopefully completely prevent incontinence as well.
4) Minimize or avoid other pelvic health conditions
Minimize or avoid other pelvic health conditions that arise following the pregnancy, delivery, and post-partum experience. Incontinence we already mentioned. Pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic pain or pressure are a couple others.
5) Make labour and delivery easier on you
Many become less active in pregnancy whether they are in pain, nauseous, or just darn tired. Of course we cannot guarantee, but it is fair to say that your labour and delivery could go quicker and easier if you start Pelvic floor physiotherapy during pregnancy. It is also noticed in studies that women who seek pelvic floor physiotherapy during pregnancy are much less likely to tear and have a quicker and easier post-partum recovery as well.
In summary our goal as physiotherapists is to increase patients’ strength, endurance, core, movement, postural correction and then of course quality of life.
For pregnant women this is reducing the chance or symptoms of pelvic health conditions ( incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain). As well as making the pregnancy, delivery and post-partum experience as optimal as possible.
“Take care of your body and it will take caer of you!” –Fit4Life