Pregnancy is an incredible journey filled with excitement and stress, hopes for the future and fear of the unknown, doubts and joy. It can be a roller coaster ride both physically and emotionally. We prepare the best we can by taking our prenatal vitamins, eating and sleeping well, reading books on ‘what to expect’ during the stages of baby’s development and afterwards. We build a team of doctors, mid-wives, doulas, family and friends. We get the car seat, the stroller, pick out the onesies and the paint for the nursery. We try to be as prepared as we can before our little one arrives to give him or her (or both!) the best start possible.
But what about our bodies? Are we giving our bodies the time, though and nurturing that it needs to take on the incredible task of carrying a baby for 9 months and then go through the amazing process of delivering a child through vaginal delivery or C-section? A woman’s body is resilient and is made to handle these challenges, but sometimes it needs a little help and encouragement along this lofty journey.
Some women can feel amazing during pregnancy while others might feel like their body’s being taken for quite the roller coaster ride. For some women, new issues can arise during pregnancy while old ones can be exacerbated during this time. Examples of some issues that can arise during pregnancy are:
urinary or fecal incontinence
low back pain or sacroiliac joint pain
discomfort with intercourse
vaginal heaviness or pelvic prolapse
This is where Pelvic Physiotherapy can play an important roll in getting women bodies back on track, supporting the body though the physical changes of pregnancy and empowering women as they move closer to their delivery date, through labour to baby’s arrival and beyond.
Here is a snap shot of what’s involved in a pre-natal pelvic physiotherapy assessment and what we can offer: Posture and Alignment- The way we stand, carry our bodies and our babies can make the difference between postures that support our weight and movements, and postures that create strain and load on our spines, pelvis, hips and knees that lead to aches and pain. Evaluating your posture and alignment will help you develop more awareness on how to carry yourself, give you strategies to correct your posture and exercises to help encourage better posture. Strength and mobility- How flexible are you? How strong are you? Are weaknesses and muscle imbalances playing a part in your areas of soreness or injury? Assessing and creating a plan to promote balance and strength in the areas that you need most to prevent injury and be the strongest mama you can be. Movement patterns- Are you guarding and bracing your movements? Are your using optimal strategies for lifting, squating, getting out of bed or strength training? Evaluating your movement habits and use of your supportive core system (the deep abdominals, diaphragm, pelvic floor and deep low back muscles) can give us a picture as to how they are working together and why certain issues may be occurring. Education, new strategies and specific exercises can be used to address symptoms, but also give you the best tools going forward into pregnancy and beyond.
Evaluation of the pelvic floor- This is where Pelvic Physiotherapists are different from other Physiotherapists. We are specifically and extensively trained on how to assess, diagnose and treat the pelvic floor. An internal evaluation, with your consent, can give us a tonne of information and allow the therapist to determine a number of important details regarding the status of your pelvic floor such as: • the position of the pelvic organs (bladder, ureathra, cervix) • the strength and coordination of the pelvic floor muscles • the general tension of the pelvic floor muscles (are they resting on tension or relaxed?) • the presence of trigger points or tender areas in the pelvic floor. Evaluating the pelvic floor will give you and the therapist a picture of what may need to be worked on, the best way of treating any pelvic related issues you may have and give you education and exercises to help get you back on track or to prepare you for labour and delivery and the post-partum phase.
Preparation and education for labour and delivery- if this is your first pregnancy, there may be a lot of questions and concerns about the unknown as your due date approaches. How to prepare for labour, how to push effectively, how to protect the pelvic floor during delivery, what to expect after a vaginal delivery or c-section. Even if you’ve had a child before, you may want to take a different approach to this delivery, you may have had a tough delivery or recovery in the past and want to know what you can do to prepare better for the next one. Education is paramount and as pelvic physiotherapist, we’re here to empower you and help you prepare for this final stage of pregnancy.
Education and tools for the early post-partum phase- sometimes called the ‘4th trimester’, the first 3 months after baby is born is a big recovery phase, rebuilding phase and adjustment period for mom and baby. What to do initially after birth to help you heal, recover and return back to activity safely and effectively will be discussed. Guidance and education to help you successfully navigate this 4th trimester is an important part of empowering you into this new territory. Learn more about postpartum physiotherapy care
Did I say education? - There is lots of it! There is a lot to learn about our bodies, pelvic floor, pregnancy and beyond. Knowledge is power and confidence!
So whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, you’re feeling the pregnancy glow or the grind, we can help support you during this time. Pelvic Physiotherapists can become great member of your pre-natal care team. We are here to help you be the strongest, most resilient, best mama you can be!