7 benefits of visiting a Women’s Health Physiotherapist during pregnancy
Are you aware of the ways in which a Women’s Health Physiotherapist can help a pregnant woman throughout her pregnancy? In October 2022, first time mum-to-be Ash visited our Women’s Health Physiotherapist Judy Bunney. Here she shares her experience…
“While I was aware before I fell pregnant that my body would change, I wasn’t prepared for the aches and pains that would accompany my changing body.
"Having led an active lifestyle pre-pregnancy, I was keen to carry on throughout my pregnancy. Judy created a plan of exercises and stretches that I could do at home that would strengthen my muscles and enable me to carry on with minimal discomfort, she demonstrated how to safely undertake these exercises checking that I was in the correct position.
"Pregnancy can be an incredibly overwhelming time with so much information to take in, I found it incredibly useful to spend time with Judy to focus on myself and ensure that my body was in the best possible condition for me and my baby.”
So if you’re currently pregnant and wondering how a visit to see a physiotherapist can help you, read on to discover the 7 key benefits…
Pregnancy can cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken and overstretch, childbirth and in particular assisted vaginal births can exacerbate the issue. A weak pelvic floor can result in:
- Bladder leakage
- Stress incontinence
- An urge to urinate frequently
- Pain during intercourse
- Pelvic organ prolapse
A physiotherapist can guide you on pregnancy safe exercises that will strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. When it comes to strengthening your pelvic floor, it is much better to start in pregnancy than wait until after childbirth.
Back pain is a common complaint amongst pregnant women. As your baby grows and your abdominal muscles stretch the lower back is put under pressure and your posture is impacted. A women’s health physio will be able to assess any muscle tension and advise on safe ways to modify current activities and exercises that can be undertaken to strengthen the affected muscles.
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)
PGP is incredibly common in pregnant women, with around 1 in 5 women experiencing mild discomfort during pregnancy. It refers to pain that is experienced in the front and back of the pelvis, with the discomfort often felt over the pubic bone at the front, below the tummy or across one or both sides of the lower back. Symptoms of PGP include:
- Difficulty walking
- Pain when undertaking normal daily activities
- Pain when getting in and out of a car
- Clicking or grinding in the pelvic area
- Difficulty changing positions in bed
A physiotherapist will be able to provide you with a 1:1 assessment, that will look at the effect PGP is having on your body. An examination of the pelvic, back and hip joints and the muscles around them will be undertaken to assess your ability to move and carry out your usual activities. An individual treatment plan will be created that will aim to improve spinal and pelvic joint position and stability while relieving pain and improving muscle function.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Many women experience swollen feet, ankles and wrists during pregnancy, the swelling will increase pressure on the median nerve that is inside the tunnel which then causes the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Symptoms include:
- Pins and needles
- Weakness and difficulties performing tasks such as writing
- Hot, sweaty and swollen hands
These symptoms can be worse first thing in the morning or at night. While symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome usually improve after the pregnancy ends, a physio will be able to provide guidance on ways to minimise the discomfort you are experiencing.
Tummy Muscle Separation
Known as rectus abdominis diastasis, tummy muscle separation is something that happens to all women during pregnancy as your abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate your growing baby. However, in some instances women notice ‘doming’ or a bulging of the abdominal muscles, particularly when undertaking certain activities. A physio can check if there is any tension that is contributing to the separation and advise on pregnancy safe exercises that will help to minimise the risk of a large gap occurring postnatally.
Help prepare for labour
A women’s health physio can help you prepare for labour from advice or perineal massage (which can reduce the chance of risk of tearing and scarring) to advising on positions that may help with contractions during each stage of labour. They will also be able to help identify the correct direction that the pelvic floor muscles should be moving when it is time to push during the second stage of labour.
It can be incredibly beneficial to have an idea before your baby arrives of the impact childbirth can have on your body. There are several simple things you can do that can help your body to recover - whether that be from a vaginal or caesarean birth. A physio will be able to advise you on how to look after your body immediately after birth.
If you are pregnant and would like to book a visit to see Judy at The Physiotherapy Clinic WGC, please get in touch and let us help you to enjoy your pregnancy and take care of your changing body.
Posted by: AislingBirch
Date: Tue, April 18, 2023