Pregnancy is such a joyous occasion, and whilst most of the attention is directed at the forthcoming baby, the mother cannot be neglected! Having a child doesn’t mean that you should ignore looking after yourself. When we attack any physiotherapy related issues in regards to pregnancy we dissect it into pre or postnatal care.
Prenatal care is all about prevention strategies and maintenance. Having a baby places a lot of stress on the body, for example there is more weight that the mother has to carry around, their centre of mass changes and there is increased pressure on their organs. This ultimately results in a change in the way that woman is moving which can often lead to a range of injuries. For example:
· 2 out of 3 people will experience lower back pain
· 1 in 5 people will experience pelvic pain
· Almost 1 in 2 people will experience urinary incontinence
It all sounds gloom and doom, but in reality if care is taken and proper management to addressing the changes in the mother’s body then these can easily be avoided. Some helpful tips for general maintenance and care include:
1. Strengthening the pelvic floor – This will allow extra support for the growing baby, and also limit the chance of, and amount of urine leakage experienced when pregnant.
2. Maintaining good posture – this is often neglected, but not just in pregnant mothers! Maintaining a good posture will evenly spread out the weight being placed on the spine, decreasing the amount of time spent in dangerous positions and increasing comfort.
3. Exercising whilst pregnant – this helps circulate blood around the body, helping prevent common issues like cramps or swollen ankles. Staying active in general also helps reduce stress, improve sleep and boost your energy throughout the day.
4. Care when lifting – this helps take care of the back to avoid any unnecessary injuries
a. Lifting heavy objects – try to avoid, but if it is critical, bend your knees, keep your back straight and do NOT twist
b. Lifting light objects – put weight on one leg, bend forward at the hip keeping the back straight and allow the other leg to lift backwards off the ground
There is an abundance of knowledge, exercises, skills and general tips that physiotherapists have to ensure that the best possible care is given to all mothers out there, whether it be their first baby or their tenth baby.
After pregnancy there are a few key topics to address. There is no doubt that special attention will be paid to the newborn, however once again the mother cannot be neglected! Immediately after pregnancy there are a range of ways in which the mother must be cared for:
Natural pregnancies – care should be directed towards the vagina and anus, where the RICE principle should be applied. Stitches are not uncommon, and immediate treatment will allow the wound to heal as quickly as possible.
R – Rest
I – Ice
C – Compression
E – Elevation
Caesarean procedures – Wound support and normal breathing patterns should be the primary focus, with promoting circulation by getting out of bed close behind.
Down the track…
The primary focus of physiotherapy down the track includes:
· Strengthening the pelvic floor – squeezing, lifting and holding exercises can be prescribed to advance the recovery of these muscles
· Returning the abdominal muscles to original strength - this includes reducing any separation of the muscles, and all round maintenance
· Taking care of the back – reducing any excessive loads of strains on the back is vital to make sure mothers are moving feely and comfortably
· Ensuring good bladder habits – approximately 8 cups of water should be consumed each day
· Returning to general exercise and function – making sure that everything is O.K. to start performing pre-pregnancy routines and exercises is critical, a lot of mothers find jumping and abdominal exercises hard, thus ensuring the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles are of adequate strength will reduce the change of bladder leakage.
Physiotherapists pride themselves on reducing pain in patients, regardless of who it is. We also pride ourselves on being able to give the best care and advice to current and expecting mothers on a range of techniques, treatments and tips on overcoming any problems or troubles associated with pregnancy.
If you have any questions regarding making your pregnancy more enjoyable, , or were interested in seeing if we can help you, feel free to give us a call. Here at Thornleigh Performance Physiotherapy, we can give you an accurate diagnosis and treatment, as well as advice on the best course of action for your condition to get you back in action sooner than you could’ve imagined. We have an expertise in musculoskeletal physiotherapy and are conveniently located near Beecroft, Cherrybrook, Hornsby, Normanhurst, Pennant Hills, Wahroonga, Westleigh, West Pennant Hills, and West Pymble. So give us a call on (02) 8411 2050 to get started on a journey to a better you.