Pregnancy is beautifully complicated. Some women love being pregnant and skate through those 9 months without issue, but most women aren’t so lucky, and struggle through the duration of their pregnancy with a variety of ailments. It’s these women I’m speaking to now, and I want you to know, you don’t have to be a casualty of your pregnancy. There is help out there so that you can feel better, function better, and live better during your pregnancy.
The body goes through many changes during the process of creating life that can impact how our bodies function. The ribs expand and the diaphragm (breathing muscle) gets pushed up to make room for the baby, which affects the ability to breathe properly. The abdominals get
majorly stretched out. Postural changes due to a growing belly can cause the back muscles to tighten up and become overactive. The body produces a hormone called relaxin to allow the bony pelvis to expand during delivery, however this impacts stability during pregnancy, particularly as a women’s center of mass continues to change. The pelvic floor, or the muscles
that lie within your pelvis, have to handle all the extra pressure and stress that comes with supporting a growing baby. These changes, while expected, can result in low back, pelvic, and hip pain, and in some women, incontinence during pregnancy. Are these things common ? Yes. Are they normal ? No. Are they treatable ? Absolutely.
Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you will inevitably have to live with pain or leakage. Many women are told by their healthcare providers, “Just ignore it, it’s because you’re pregnant. It will go away after the baby is born.” But pain and leakage are hard to ignore and can greatly disrupt your life, and there is no guarantee that symptoms will resolve postpartum. Instead, having pain and incontinence during pregnancy puts you at further risk for having these symptoms after birth. Rather than living with these symptoms, seek help, and find a physical therapist (PT) with specialized training in Women’s Health.
PT’s with specialized training in Women’s Health and/or pelvic health work with women during pregnancy to teach them strategies on how to breathe better, how to move better, and how to engage their pelvic floor muscles during those movements to control leakage and offer muscular support to your core. It’s important not to just train the pelvic floor in isolation, but rather to practice engaging your muscles while squatting, lunging, picking up your child, etc., so that you’re practicing using those muscles during functional activities. A PT will also teach you how to move throughout the day to avoid repetitive stresses that can exacerbate pain. A pelvic floor
therapist may also recommend supportive garments or devices to help support the low back, hips, and pelvic girdle in order to reduce pain. A PT can also instruct you in prepping for labor and delivery, including positions that are going to be more optimal for postpartum recovery as well.
It’s also important for women to understand that movement and exercise during pregnancy is good. So long as your pregnancy is normal and healthy, and you’ve been cleared by your Dr. to exercise, you should. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 times a week. If you’re new to exercise, start slow and gradually increase your intensity. But exercising during pregnancy is healthy for both you and the baby, and helps you recover faster during the postpartum period.
Learn more about pregnancy and physical therapy at https://pt-cpr.com/what-we-do/pregnancy-postpartum-menopause/