Physical therapists can be a valuable resource for women before, during, and after pregnancy. Aside from the hormonal shifts in the body, women experience many musculoskeletal and neuromuscular changes as well that can lead to both acute and potentially chronic discomfort and dysfunction. Below are three benefits of skilled physical therapy intervention for mom during this transitional time!
Pain Management– It is common, but not normal, to experience low back pain, hip and leg pain, and pubic pain during pregnancy. Pregnancy alters normal body alignment due to the changes in weight distribution of the trunk as baby grows. Compensatory habits can develop that can lead to muscle weakness, joint tightness, and pain. Women’s health physical therapists are trained in assessing these conditions and utilizing manual techniques, individualized exercise prescription, and other recommendations to help alleviate symptoms.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Training and Education – Proper pelvic floor muscle activation and coordination is an important component of deep core function in the pre partum, labor, delivery, and post partum phase. Women’s health PT’s are trained in effective techniques that teach proper strengthening and sequencing strategies to better prepare the body for the demands of pregnancy and delivery and help prevent common conditions such as incontinence, prolapse, and pelvic pain. Determining whether the muscle is weak, tight, or poorly coordinated is important in developing and prescribing each individualized program.
Learn Strategies for Labor and Delivery – Although labor and delivery is often not perfectly predictable, women’s health physical therapists are skilled in providing strategies for comfortable birthing positions, proper breathing techniques to protect the pelvic floor during labor and delivery, and post partum recommendations to allow for a full recovery following pregnancy. (HINT: It’s time to rethink “pushing” during delivery!”)
If you or someone you care about is pregnant or has recently had a baby, consider a visit with a women’s health PT! We work to provide you with tools for better self-care during pregnancy and offer the expertise for effective intervention for optimal healing after baby.
By Julie Yunaska, MPT, CPT 7/17