Women's bodies change significantly during pregnancy and most will experience back pain, pelvic pain, urinary incontinence and other conditions. Today, our Nepean physical therapists will explain how prenatal and post-natal (postpartum) physiotherapy can help with pain prevention and recovery from childbirth.
Physiotherapy to Treat Prenatal & Post-Natal Pain
Pre-natal physiotherapy and postpartum physiotherapy have an integral role to play in pain prevention, treatment and recovery for pregnant and postpartum women.
During pregnancy, women's bodies undergo a vast number of changes. As weight gain occurs, the centre of gravity changes, putting more pressure on internal organs. This often leads to many orthopedic, pelvic and neurological issues during the pre-natal and post-natal stages.
The most common conditions women report include:
- Pelvic or back pain
- Pelvic misalignment
- Joint pain
- Abdominal separation
- Bladder prolapse
- Numb, tingling and painful hands and fingers
- Varicose veins and swollen ankles
- Blocked breast ducts
Even before pregnant women start "showing" their bump, major changes are taking place inside. Posture and the way in which the body moves changes.
Soft tissues, muscles and ligaments grow more flexible and the weight pressure on their joints increases. This flexibility and elasticity allows the pelvis to stretch so the growing baby can be accommodated. Hormonal changes trigger these shifts, all of which are imperative to the health and development of mom and baby as the body prepares itself for birth.
Why do some women experience these conditions during pregnancy?
Not every woman will experience pain and discomfort during pregnancy, and it need not be a reason to reconsider becoming pregnant if you had planned to. That said, many women have risk factors that mean they may be more prone to these symptoms.
Women with a previous history of pelvic girdle pain, pelvic floor dysfunction and lower back pain are more predisposed to encounter these types of pain during pregnancy and after giving birth.
Being overweight, as well as being pregnant and giving birth (vaginally or by c-section) seem to leave women at higher risk for urinary incontinence, while risk factors for pelvic organ prolapse are associated with a family history of the condition, increasing age and number of deliveries.
Obesity, weakness in the pelvic floor muscles, repetitive constipation and straining and repetitive heavy lifting are also contributing factors.
How can prenatal and postpartum physiotherapy help prevent and treat these conditions?
To lay the foundation for preventing and alleviating prenatal pain and to set the stage for a good recovery, it's important to prepare the abdominal area, lower back muscles and pelvic floor pre and post-pregnancy.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above during or after your pregnancy, our Nepean physiotherapists can evaluate your specific circumstances and the factors contributing to your pain or discomfort.
We can help you prepare for labour and delivery with a range of physiotherapy treatment options designed to:
- Maintain pelvic alignment and symmetry to reduce pain
- Strengthen and lengthen the pelvic foor muscle to minimize pain and improve continence and mobility
- Optimize birthing positions to leave as much room as possible for the baby to come through the birth canal
- Prepare the vaginal connective tissue and pelvic floor muscles with perineal care and stretching to prevent and minimize tearing
- Minimize pain of musculoskeletal conditions that pregnancy, labour and delivery can exacerbate
- Provide education for expectant mothers on pain management and discuss fears, concerns and labour goals to help calm stress and anxiety
Post-delivery reconditioning focuses on safely and progressively returning various parts of the body to pre-pregnancy and or delivery function most impacted by pregnancy, labour and delivery.
Your physiotherapist may prescribe an active core strengthening program, including specific pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises to correct back or pelvic dysfunction.
Additional treatments may include massage, joint mobilizations, stretches, acupuncture, myofascial release and heat.
Prenatal & Post-Partum Physiotherapy at Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre
Every woman is unique, and every pregnancy is different. At Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre, our specially trained physiotherapists can help you navigate your personal pregnancy and post-pregnancy experience by helping you prepare for a safer, healthier delivery - and heal afterwards - with prenatal and postpartum physiotherapy (sometimes referred to as parental therapy).
We treat health issues related to pregnancy, delivery preparation and postpartum recovery. Our physiotherapists offer private, compassionate pelvic physiotherapy care in our closed-door dedicated treatment room.
In this private treatment room, we're able to accommodate our pelvic and women's health physiotherapy clients away from our general physiotherapy treatment area.
Are you experiencing pre-natal or postpartum pain you wish to address?
We can help develop a treatment and exercise plan to help you recover.
Welcome to the Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre blog, where we provide lots of helpful tips, news, information and advice about physiotherapy and massage treatments, as well as general health and wellness, in Nepean and Ottawa.