There are many ways a physiotherapist can help you to stay healthy during your pregnancy. Taking regular exercise is good for your heart, breathing, muscle tone, reduce stress levels, improve sleep and prevent pain around the pelvis and low back areas. It will get you ready for labour and after your baby’s birth, will help you to get back into shape.
A physiotherapist can:
- Advise you on appropriate exercise in pregnancy.
- Advise you on exercises to maintain a good posture as your body shape changes.
- Prescribe exercises for the prevention and treatment of back pain.
- Instruct you in appropriate exercises for after the birth of the baby.
What issues may affect me during my pregnancy?
Pelvic Floor Muscles
These are very important muscles as they control the bladder and bowel. During pregnancy they become weakened due to pregnancy hormones and the extra weight of your baby.
It is important for all women to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy, whether they plan to have a vaginal delivery or caesarean section. Knowing how to do your pelvic floor muscle exercises is really important and can help you prevent or stop urine from leaking.
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)
Describes pain in any of the three joints of your pelvis. It is common but not normal and can affect 1 in 5 women during pregnancy. Pain can vary from mild to severe and pain may even travel into your buttocks, hips or perineum. You may experience:
- Difficulty walking.
- Difficulty with activities requiring standing on one leg e.g. climbing the stairs, dressing or getting in or out of the bath.
- Pain and/or difficulty moving your legs apart e.g. getting in and out of the car.
- Limited or painful hip movements e.g. turning over in bed.
- Pain during normal daily activities.
How do I exercise my pelvic floor muscles?
- 1. Sit in an upright chair or lie with knees bent.
- 2. Draw your back passage in as if trying to hold in wind then draw in front passage as if trying to stop urine.
- 3. Your lower stomach may tighten.
- 4. Keep your buttocks and thigh muscles soft – Hold for 3 seconds while continuing to breathe normally.
- Aim to hold for 10 seconds and do 10 repetitions as a guide.
- Include a set of fast squeezes in each set of exercises; tighten quickly and release quickly and repeat 10 times.
- Do your exercises 3 times per day.
How do I know when I should see a physiotherapist?
Make an appointment with a chartered women’s health physiotherapist if you notice any of the following:
- Leaking from your bladder.
- Difficulty controlling or emptying your bladder or bowel.
- Pain or discomfort in the lower back or pelvic region.
- Unsure that you are doing your pelvic floor exercises correctly.
- Unable to feel a definite lift and a definite release of your pelvic floor muscles.
- Unsure of which exercises you can do during or after your pregnancy.
We recommend walking for 150 minutes a week during pregnancy, which is a 30-minute walk, five times a week. If you only walk now and then, you won’t get the benefits of regular exercise