Pregnancy and delivery can have a significant and long lasting impact on a woman’s body. During pregnancy nature has created a way to create more space in and around a woman’s pelvis by releasing a pregnancy hormone, Relaxin, to loosen the joints and ligaments in the area. Relaxin also stretches joints and ligaments all over the body. Swelling is common and there is significant extra load in the body from extra fluid and the weight of a growing baby. These and other natural changes associated with pregnancy and delivery, either vaginal or Cesarean section, can affect your posture and joints biomechanics, and the function of the pelvic floor muscles often causing discomfort, pain either during pregnancy or after delivery.
During pregnancy women may experience lumbar spine pain, neck pain and headaches, arm pain and tingling associated with nerve compression,foot pain associated with flattening of the arch, pelvic/sciatica/hip and sacral pain, urinary incontinence, difficulty breathing, among other symptoms.
After delivery the muscles have become so weakened and overworked and many women may experience urinary and anal incontinence. Diastasis recti, when the rectus abdominis becomes separated from from the mid-line connective tissue or linea alba causing the belly to pooch out, is very common after pregnancy and delivery. Diastasis recti can cause significant lower back pain and certain exercises and activities may aggravate the condition. In some cases core and pelvic floor weakness can be so significant that it may cause some pelvic organs (uterus, bladder and or bowel) to prolapse or slip out of place. Pelvic pain is also a common complaint after childbirth and it is often caused by scarred and inflamed tissue and nerves causing the pelvic floor muscles to tighten and become overactive.
Help Treat Pregnancy Pain or Discomfort with Rehabilitation
Physical Therapy during pregnancy can treat any pregnancy pain or discomfort associated with the pregnancy changes. It can also prepare the pelvic floor muscles for childbirth, optimizing delivery and assisting in preventing perineal tearing and other postpartum dysfunctions.
Physical Therapy after pregnancy and delivery can help to restore muscle function and address any postpartum issues such as diastasis recti, pelvic pain, incontinence and prolapse.
At Movement and Flow Physical Therapy you will receive a thorough examination including your past medical history review, a review of pregnancy/delivery history, a musculoskeletal and postural examination. We will develop an individualized plan of care to address any pregnancy or postpartum-related symptoms.
At Movement and Flow Physical Therapy you can expect to receive manual, hands-on techniques and individualized home exercise programs as well as guidance and instruction related to modification of ADLs that may be difficult during these phases of life.
Treatment options may include and are not limited to:
- Muscle energy techniques to realign the pelvic girdle joints and lumbar spine
- Soft tissue mobilization and gentle joint mobilization during prenatal phase
- External soft tissue mobilization, scar mobilization
- Pelvic floor muscle neuromuscular re-education, coordination and strength training
- Lumbopelvic stabilization exercises and core strengthening program
- Postural and optimal body mechanics education
- Diastasis recti correction if present
- Modalities as appropriate (moist heat, cold therapy, electrical stimulation, ultrasound)
- Recommendations for external support devices as needed
Most women who have gone through the process of pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum recovery will agree that their body will never be the same. We are here to help you! At Movement and Flow Physical Therapy our goal is to enable you to return to a functional and active life, feeling more comfortable with the “new you” while possibly preventing further future pelvic floor dysfunction. Contact Movement and Flow today!