Pregnancy and Post-pregnancy Rehab: Treating moms Right!
There are countless changes that occur when expecting a baby, and majority of these changes can ultimately impact your pelvic floor. Pregnancy naturally places a lot of pressure onto certain areas of your body and creates pain in your low back, pelvic girdle, and abdomen among other areas. Your pelvic floor and core musculature have to work even harder to support your posture as well as the growing baby inside of you! At times women may experience urine leakage as well, due to pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.
Typically, pregnancy causes a significant change in posture as the baby grows the abdomen expands and shifts the center of gravity forward, exaggerated low back curvature (lordosis), rounded shoulders and forward head position in order to compensate for the new weight distribution. There are many mobility exercises, stretches and strengthening techniques that your pelvic floor physiotherapist should prescribe in order to alleviate pain and ensure that the transition from pregnancy to labour & delivery is smooth. While pain and postural changes are COMMON, they are not NORMAL, and no women should be left to power through the pain and discomfort when there are solutions and help that can be provided!
In addition to pregnancy related pain, a pelvic floor physiotherapist can provide techniques to physically prepare for labour and delivery. Techniques such as deep breathing, motor control of your pelvic floor, strength, endurance, relaxation techniques and perineal massage are all important during pregnancy. These techniques will in turn help with pushing during delivery, reduce risk of tearing and helps reduce potential issues post pregnancy.
Let’s discuss post pregnancy rehab! The pelvic floor gets effected following giving birth even during a “normal” birthing experience. The skin layers of the vagina may tear and often require stitches. The pelvic floor muscles stretch and sometimes can even be damaged causing dysfunction and weakness into the pelvic floor. This weakness can affect urinary/bowel function, organ support and posture. Even the scar tissue that forms around a c-section scar or a perineal scar can cause pain and dysfunction with any compression or stretching. This means that pain can occur with bowel movements, sex and even exercise (when ready to do so). The following is a short list of things that will likely be assessed on an initial pelvic physiotherapy visit.
- Musculoskeletal examination
- Diastasis Recti check
- Scar mobilization (c-section & perineal scarring)
- Pelvic floor muscle strength/motor control
- Manual techniques for concerns of pain with vaginal intercourse or penetration
- Prolapse check
It is critical that all women receive some sort of care during their pregnancy as well as following giving birth in order to address any concerns. Ultimately, this will enable moms to return to functional and active lives while potentially preventing future issues!
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