Updated: Jun 2
Pregnancy is a time when our bodies are going through many changes. We have to listen to our bodies during this time. Most people don’t realize how physical therapy can assist with keeping your body feel well through these changes. Physical Therapy can assist with sacroiliac joint pain (SI joint pain), pubic symphysis dysfunction, low back pain, round ligament pain, diastasis recti, and decreased rib cage mobility. Learning how to take care and manage these issues can be very helpful.
Exercise can be a great way to support your babies growth and support your own body in process. Despite misconceptions, it is completely safe to exercise during pregnancy as well. It can help prevent gestational diabetes and manage weight gain. Exercise produces greater red cell volume which leads to increase in oxygen to the mom and fetus. My advice as a Physical Therapist would be not to embark on a new and very unfamiliar form of exercise, but that it is favorable to begin a new exercise routine such as walking, weight lifting, barre, or yoga. Just to suggest a few. Beginning more extreme forms of exercising during pregnancy may not be advisable such as wake boarding or contact sports etc. How do you know if your exercise is too intense? Well, wearable heart rate monitor can be helpful but also simply “The Talk Test”. Yep! You heard me right! Can you speak or talk to someone while performing the exercise? If you can hold a conversation or sing a short song like happy birthday, then you are probably exercising right on track at a moderate level! Some mothers may not be able to lay on their back for exercise or lay on their back in general towards the end of pregnancy. The baby weight can compress inferior vena cava and lead to decrease fetal blood supply. If you are able to tolerate doing exercises laying down, I would consider laying on your side in between sets to minimize the decrease in blood flow. If you can’t tolerate fully laying down on your back that a reclined position is also a great option. Physical Therapist can also help adjust exercises as necessary to accommodate changing bodies with new aches, pains, or restrictions.
Keep in mind that some cannot tolerate exercise which is okay too. Extreme exercise is not recommended especially is hot temperatures since it can increase the fetus temperature too greatly. In some, it can also lead to early contractions and in this case may not be recommended by your doctor. In the very least, keep moving, performing breathing exercises, and stretching as much as tolerated during this time.
Informing soon to be mothers of the birthing process can be be empowering. It can be especially helpful when trying to understand what needs to happen in order to assist with a smoother delivery. Being able to practice keeping your pelvic floor relaxed during birth may decrease the likelihood of tearing your pelvic floor. Although, truthfully the evidenced based research on this topic is limited. What I can tell you is that it is not harmful to begin tuning into this area of your body in order to prepare! Check out my posts below on some positions to practice relaxing your pelvic floor! Finding a comfortable position for your body where you don’t feel any aches and pains and are able to connect with pelvic floor is optimal for labor and delivery. Sometimes laying on one side may be more comfortable than the other. Try the different positions and see for yourself. Perinatal care can be just as important as the aftercare in order to support Moms to be! Physical Therapy while pregnant can also manage painful conditions such round ligament pain, pubic symphysis pain, sacroiliac joint pain, low back pain, sciatica etc. Incontinence, constipation, pelvic floor heaviness, diastasis recti may also begin to be a problem while pregnant as well. Some of these issues can also be addressed in Physical Therapy while pregnant! Why not work on things prior to the postpartum period! It may make you more comfortable during your pregnancy and make you recovery postpartum quicker.
Investing in services such as chiropractic care, prenatal massage, support groups, and physical therapy can give guidance, comfort, confidence during this unpredictable time!
Here are the links to some of the tips on Pregnancy and Delivery I have discussed through social media.