Pregnancy is an amazing time, but it also tends to lead to some pretty significant changes to your body! Physiotherapy can help through all stages of pregnancy, from treating aches and pains to providing exercises and advice to aid in recovery.
It’s never too early to start working on your posture and core muscles, including your pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles are stressed during pregnancy, even if you have a caesarean birth. Your physio can assist you with pelvic floor and core strength exercises to help prepare your body for pregnancy and help prevent incontinence during and after pregnancy.
During the first trimester, your body is getting used to many new hormones. You might be feeling great, but you might also be feeling tired and nauseous. It’s important to listen to your body and be kind to yourself during this stage of pregnancy. Gentle exercise such as walking, Pilates and yoga can be beneficial. It is not recommended to start a new type of high-intensity exercise that you have never done before, but do not refrain from weight and strength training as they are proven to reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes down the track.
If you haven’t already, this is the perfect time to start your pelvic floor exercises.
During the second trimester, your body generally gets more used to the changing hormones and this is often said to be the most comfortable trimester. From week 16-20, it is recommended that you avoid lying on your back if possible as this can place extra pressure on the vein supplying the blood to you and the baby. If you find you wake up on your back, gently roll onto your side and try to get back to sleep.
Continue moderate exercise during this trimester. This helps reduce pregnancy complications and is shown to reduce labour time! Light weights can help to build muscle strength in both arms and legs, which will come in handy when the baby arrives.
Aches and pains may start to hurt in your neck, around your lower back and pelvis or other joints. Our physiotherapists are here to help so don’t suffer in silence.
Your stomach muscles may also start to separate due to the size of your baby. This is called rectus diastasis. Your physiotherapist can assess this now and again after birth and advise you of appropriate abdominal exercises. Please don’t stress; it is a very common condition and treatable when managed properly.
Swimming is a great form of exercise for the third trimester. If possible, try to find a pool with a ramp rather than a ladder to get in and out with.
Leg strength is important for labour. Continue exercise as much as you can, just be aware of not overheating and stay hydrated! Breathing exercises can also help prepare you for labour.
The hormone relaxin stays in your body for at least 3 months post-birth. This means you need to be careful when lifting and returning to exercise. If you’ve had a caesarean then you need to be extra careful in the first 12 weeks. Pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscle exercises can be started as early as week 1 under the guidance of your physiotherapist.
Other common problems in the post-natal period include neck and shoulder pain from feeding and carrying baby, carpal tunnel, thumb pain and pelvic floor incontinence. See your physiotherapist as soon as possible to ensure an accurate diagnosis and management plan.
Book in with our Women’s Health Physiotherapist online or over the phone today.