Physiotherapy For Pregnancy
A pregnant woman undergoes several changes to accommodate the growing baby and ensure it is healthy. Some of these changes come with pain, discomfort, and the need for specialized care. As a result, pregnant women need to undergo antenatal physiotherapy during pregnancy. This healthcare service offers pregnant women several benefits and solutions to common problems they may face during pregnancy.
Physiotherapy is a branch of medicine that treats, restores, and maintains an individual’s mobility, function, and well-being. While pregnant, the growing baby may threaten the expectant mother’s mobility, comfort, and overall well-being. Physiotherapists at Barrie, ON, use the understanding of the human body and changes during pregnancy to support pregnant women during this period. In this article, we will explore the benefits of physiotherapy for pregnant women at Concept of Movement Physiotherapy.
Why is Physiotherapy Important During Pregnancy?
While the fetus grows, the mother’s body undergoes several physiological and structural changes to accommodate the bundle of joy. These changes can lead to severe discomfort and other physical challenges for the expectant mother. Physiotherapy aims to address these challenges, hence its importance during pregnancy.
Pain is one of the most common challenges that expectant mothers face during pregnancy. This musculoskeletal discomfort occurs due to hormonal changes, the additional weight of the baby, and a shift in the woman’s center of gravity. As a result, pregnant women often complain of lower back pain, sciatica, pelvic pain, round ligament pain, and other related conditions. Physiotherapists can use their knowledge of the workings of the human body to provide various pain relief techniques.
As always, a healthy baby delivered to a healthy mother is the most reliable marker of a successful pregnancy. Hence, a significant part of physiotherapy during pregnancy is devoted to labor and delivery. Professionals train mothers on relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and positioning that can make labor and delivery easier and faster.
Physiotherapy for pregnancy is not all about the mother’s physical health. Pregnancy can take a massive mental toll on women, and physiotherapy can ease that burden via pain relief, health education, and delivery preparedness.
Overall, the key to the physiotherapist’s approach to pregnancy is proactiveness. Problems during pregnancy are better prevented than managed, and professionals keep expectant mothers in their best health.
What Conditions Do Physiotherapists Treat During Pregnancy?
Sometimes, pregnant women develop some issues, and physiotherapists have to shift from a preventive to a therapeutic approach. These pregnancy issues include the common ones like lower back pain, swelling, and rare conditions like sciatica and pelvic girdle pain.
Lower Back Pain
Expectant mothers experience hormonal changes that may affect their ligaments and muscles, leading to pain. For example, increased production of relaxin during pregnancy affects the spine and contributes to back pain. Other factors that cause lower back pain in pregnant women are the weight of the growing baby, postural changes, etc. Prenatal physiotherapy in Barrie, ON, offers relief for lower back pain through exercises, stretches, and back pain therapy.
Sciatica nerve pain is another common condition during pregnancy. The sciatic nerve is the largest in the human body. It travels from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, and down each leg. During pregnancy, the sciatic nerve may become compressed from pressure and irritated. This condition leads to inflammation, causing a sharp pain to radiate down the leg. Pregnant women can avoid and manage sciatic nerve pain through gentle stretches and targeted exercises from physiotherapy during pregnancy.
Pelvic Girdle Pain
This condition is also known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SFD). It causes pain and discomfort in the pelvic region, making simple tasks, such as walking or turning, very painful. Pelvic girdle pain can lead to several complications during pregnancy and delivery. However, antenatal physiotherapy addresses this condition through specific exercises and techniques. Physiotherapy during pregnancy improves pelvic stability to manage and alleviate pelvic pain.
Round Ligament Pain
The round ligaments are a pair of ligaments that support the uterus and attach it to the groin area. During pregnancy, the uterus expands and stretches to accommodate the growing fetus. This uterine expansion may strain the round ligaments, leading to sharp, shooting pains in the lower abdomen. Sudden movements such as standing quickly, turning in bed, coughing, sneezing, etc trigger round ligament pain. It brings additional discomfort to pregnant women. Physiotherapy during pregnancy provides techniques to ease the discomfort caused by round ligament pain and provide relief.
Posture and Alignment
As the body tries to accommodate the extra weight and shift in the center of gravity during pregnancy, there is a drastic change in posture and alignment. Poor posture and alignment are one of the leading causes of pain and discomfort in pregnant women. Physiotherapists in Barrie can assess your posture and provide advice and exercises to help you maintain proper posture and alignment during pregnancy.
Swelling and Edema
Swelling and Edema are common occurrences during pregnancy. Edema is the accumulation of excess fluid in the body tissues. Hormonal fluctuations, increased blood volume, uterine pressure, etc, cause this condition, and it can affect the hands, ankles, legs, feet, and face. Antenatal physiotherapy employs techniques like manual lymphatic drainage, elevation, and education on maintaining a healthy fluid balance to manage and reduce swelling.
Other common conditions during pregnancy that antenatal physiotherapy treats include diastasis recti, carpal tunnel syndrome, urinary incontinence, scar problems, joint problems, etc.
When Should You Consider Antenatal Physiotherapy?
Antenatal physiotherapy is suitable for pregnant women of all ages. However, people in the following situations can particularly benefit from physiotherapy during pregnancy:
- Existing musculoskeletal issues: People with existing musculoskeletal conditions, such as scoliosis, pelvic instability, or back pain, before pregnancy, can benefit immensely from physiotherapy. This healthcare practice helps to manage their issues during pregnancy.
- Multiple pregnancies: Accommodating one baby is already tedious work. However, twins or triplets result in a higher physical strain, increasing the demands on the mother’s body. Physiotherapy can help to ease the stress that people with two or more babies go through.
- High-risk pregnancy: Physiotherapy is essential for pregnancies with increased risks. A pregnancy with chances of complication will benefit from antenatal physiotherapy.
- Previous complications: If you have experienced difficulties in previous pregnancies, antenatal physiotherapy can address your concerns and provide preventive measures for safe delivery.
Common Techniques and Exercises in Antenatal Physiotherapy
Professionals employ several techniques to help pregnant women stay at the top of their health game. Some of these methods include:
Stretching: Pregnancy comes with pain and stiffness across the joints due to baby weight and hormones. Stretching helps ease pain and helps expectant mothers stay as flexible as possible. Physiotherapists teach mothers to stretch specific muscles/muscle groups, e.g., pectoral stretch, piriformis stretch, and hamstring stretch.
Pelvic Floor Exercises: The pelvic floor consists of muscles that bear the weight of the uterus and the growing baby, and it’s quite easy to see how their integrity is essential for a pregnancy. Physiotherapists introduce exercises like Kegels to strengthen the pelvic floor.
Breathing and Relaxation Techniques: Stress and anxiety are popular pregnancy issues with a significant bearing on the mother and child’s health. Physiotherapists can introduce massage, yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy, among other techniques, to help pregnant women manage their stress levels. These techniques also contribute to labor and delivery preparedness.
Postural Training: Pregnant women tend to adopt postures that seem to reduce pain but can prove harmful in the long run. Postural training helps to eliminate that risk.
Core Stability Exercises: This develops the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, pelvis, and hips. Maintaining core strength during pregnancy prevents several complications. Examples of safe core stability exercises include pelvic tilts, cat-cow stretches, standing leg lifts, squats, wall sits, etc.
Benefits of Antenatal Physiotherapy
- Pain Relief: This is one of the primary benefits of antenatal physiotherapy. Pregnancy comes with a lot of physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that may lead to some pain and discomfort. Physiotherapy employs several techniques like manual therapy and other targeted exercises to alleviate these pregnancy-related conditions. Relief of pregnancy pain helps expectant mothers to maintain a high quality of life during pregnancy.
- Improved Posture: As the fetus grows, the mother’s center of gravity changes, leading to changes in posture. Physiotherapy during pregnancy reduces the strain on the back and pelvis, improving posture and making it easier to carry out daily activities.
- Prevention of Complications: Several complications, such as diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, and urinary incontinence, may occur during pregnancy. Antenatal physiotherapy significantly reduces the risks of such conditions, ensuring a smooth and comfortable pregnancy.
- Management of Stress: Apart from physical support, antenatal physiotherapy provides emotional support. All of these contribute to a comfortable pregnancy journey.
Other benefits of antenatal physiotherapy include enhanced core strength, improved pelvic health, preparation for labor, balance and stability, etc.
Antenatal physiotherapy is a valuable healthcare practice that offers several benefits and solutions to common problems plaguing expectant mothers. It relieves pain and ensures optimal physical and emotional health for pregnant women. If you are going through a beautiful pregnancy journey, you should consider antenatal physiotherapy at Concept of Movement Physiotherapy.