The Essential Role of Prenatal and Postnatal Physiotherapy on your Transformational Journey
Congratulations on your journey to motherhood! The changes your body goes through during pregnancy and after childbirth are truly remarkable. However, they can also bring discomfort and challenges. That’s where at Core Fitness, our prenatal and postnatal physiotherapy services can help you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what is involved in these sessions, the benefits, and how they can support you throughout your pregnancy and postpartum journey.
Table of Contents
- Prenatal Physiotherapy
- What is Prenatal Physiotherapy?
- Benefits of Prenatal Physiotherapy
- The Aim of Prenatal Physiotherapy
- What to Expect During Prenatal Physiotherapy Sessions
- When to Start Seeing a Pelvic Floor Therapist
- How to Determine if You Need Pelvic Floor Therapy
- Postnatal Physiotherapy
- The Importance of Postnatal Physiotherapy
- Duration of Postnatal Physiotherapy
- What Can Postnatal Physiotherapy help me with?
- What Can You Gain from Postnatal Physiotherapy?
Pregnancy is a beautiful and transformative journey, but it also brings significant changes to your body. From the moment of conception, your body begins to adapt to support the growth and development of your baby. These changes can lead to discomfort, pain, and functional limitations. Prenatal and postnatal physiotherapy are specialised forms of care that can help address these issues and support your overall well-being during and after pregnancy.
What is Prenatal Physiotherapy?
Prenatal physiotherapy, is care from a health professional, focusing on addressing the musculoskeletal and physiological changes that occur during pregnancy. It involves working one-on-one with a physiotherapist who specialises in women’s health to optimise your physical health and manage any pain or discomfort you may experience.
During pregnancy, your body undergoes various changes, including hormonal fluctuations, weight gain, postural adjustments, and increased pressure on the pelvic floor. Prenatal physiotherapy aims to support your body through these changes and promote a healthy and comfortable pregnancy.
Benefits of Prenatal Physiotherapy
Prenatal physiotherapy offers numerous benefits for expectant mothers. Some key advantages include:
- Pain Management: Prenatal physiotherapy can help alleviate common pregnancy-related pains such as lower back pain, pelvic girdle pain, and hip discomfort. Through targeted exercises, manual therapy, and postural education, physiotherapists can help reduce pain and improve your overall comfort.
- Improved Pelvic Floor Function: The pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in supporting the uterus, bladder, and bowel during pregnancy. Prenatal physiotherapy includes pelvic floor exercises and training, which can help strengthen these muscles and prevent issues such as urinary incontinence.
- Enhanced Core Strength: Pregnancy places additional strain on your abdominal muscles and core. Prenatal physiotherapy focuses on strengthening these muscles to provide stability and support as your baby grows. A strong core can also aid in the prevention of diastasis recti, a condition characterised by the separation of the abdominal muscles.
- Postural Correction: As your body changes during pregnancy, your posture may be affected. Prenatal physiotherapy can help correct postural imbalances and provide guidance on proper body mechanics to reduce strain on your joints and muscles.
- Labour preparation: Physiotherapy can provide valuable assistance in preparing for labour by teaching comfortable positions and pain management strategies. Your physiotherapist can also guide you in pelvic floor exercises and perineal massages to prepare for a smoother delivery.
The Aim of Prenatal Physiotherapy
The primary goal of prenatal physiotherapy is to support your physical health and well-being throughout your pregnancy. The specific aims of prenatal physiotherapy include:
- Pain Relief: Physiotherapists will work with you to alleviate any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing, whether it’s in your back, pelvis, hips, or other areas of your body.
- Optimal Pelvic Floor Function: Through pelvic floor exercises and education, physiotherapists aim to enhance the strength, coordination, and endurance of your pelvic floor muscles. This can help prevent issues such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
- Improved Core Stability: Strengthening the muscles of your core, including the abdominal and back muscles, can provide stability and support during pregnancy and prepare you for labour and delivery.
- Postural Education: Physiotherapists will provide guidance on maintaining proper posture and body mechanics to minimise strain on your joints and muscles.
- Preparation for childbirth: Getting the body in prime condition to take on childbirth and the physical challenges of post partum and caring for the newborn baby.
By focusing on these aims, prenatal physiotherapy can help optimise your physical well-being and prepare you for the challenges of pregnancy, labour, and postpartum recovery.
What to Expect During Prenatal Physiotherapy Sessions
During your prenatal physiotherapy sessions, your physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment to understand your specific needs and concerns. They will take into account factors such as your medical history, current symptoms, and individual goals for the pregnancy.
Based on this assessment, your physiotherapist will develop a personalised treatment plan that may include a combination of the following:
- Exercise Prescription: Your physiotherapist will prescribe specific exercises to target areas of weakness or discomfort. These exercises may include pelvic floor exercises, core strengthening exercises, stretching, and postural correction exercises.
- Manual Therapy: Manual therapy techniques, such as soft tissue mobilisation and joint mobilisation, may be used to alleviate pain, improve joint mobility, and promote tissue healing.
- Education and Advice: Your physiotherapist will provide you with education and advice on various topics, including proper body mechanics, ergonomics, posture, and self-care techniques. They will also address any concerns or questions you may have about your pregnancy and physical health.
- Pelvic Floor Training: Pelvic floor training is a key component of prenatal physiotherapy. Your physiotherapist will guide you in performing pelvic floor exercises correctly to strengthen these muscles and improve their coordination and endurance.
- Modalities: In some cases, your physiotherapist may use modalities such as heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to complement your treatment and provide pain relief.
Throughout your prenatal physiotherapy journey, your physiotherapist will work collaboratively with you, providing ongoing support and guidance to help you achieve your goals and maintain optimal physical health during pregnancy.
When to Start Seeing a Pelvic Floor Therapist in Pregnancy
The ideal time to start seeing a pelvic floor therapist during pregnancy varies for each individual. While some women may seek physiotherapy early on, others may wait until they experience pain or discomfort. It’s generally recommended to consult with a pelvic floor therapist as soon as you start experiencing any issues or if you have a history of pelvic floor dysfunction.
Starting prenatal physiotherapy early allows you to address any potential musculoskeletal imbalances, optimise your pelvic floor function, and learn proper exercises and techniques to support your changing body. However, it’s never too late to seek help from a pelvic floor therapist, even if you’re in the later stages of pregnancy.
How to Determine if You Need Pelvic Floor Therapy
If you’re unsure whether you need pelvic floor therapy, it’s essential to listen to your body and pay attention to any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing. Here are some indicators that you may benefit from pelvic floor therapy during pregnancy:
- Urinary Incontinence: If you’re experiencing urinary leakage, particularly when coughing, sneezing, or exercising, it may be a sign of weakened pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor therapy can help address this issue and improve bladder control.
- Pelvic Pain: Persistent pain or discomfort in the pelvic region, lower back, hips, or groin can indicate musculoskeletal imbalances that could benefit from pelvic floor therapy.
- Diastasis Recti: Diastasis recti is a condition characterised by the separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy. Pelvic floor therapy can help address this issue and provide guidance on exercises to minimise the separation and promote healing.
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse: If you’re experiencing sensations of pressure or a feeling of “something coming down” in the pelvic area, it may indicate pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic floor therapy can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and provide support for the pelvic organs.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or have concerns about your pelvic floor function during pregnancy, it’s advisable to consult with a pelvic floor therapist. They can evaluate your condition, provide a diagnosis, and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs.
The Importance of Postnatal Physiotherapy
Postnatal physiotherapy is a vital component of your recovery journey after childbirth. It focuses on restoring your physical health, addressing any postpartum complications or discomforts, and guiding you through the process of returning to your pre-pregnancy activities.
Childbirth places significant strain on your body, particularly the pelvic floor muscles, abdominal muscles, and back. Postnatal physiotherapy can help you regain strength, stability, and function in these areas, promoting optimal healing and a smooth transition into motherhood.
Duration of Postnatal Physiotherapy
The duration of postnatal physiotherapy varies depending on individual needs and goals. It may extend from a few weeks to several months, depending on factors such as the type of delivery, any complications experienced, and the overall progress of your recovery.
It’s important to remember that postnatal physiotherapy is a gradual process, and healing takes time. Your physiotherapist will work closely with you to monitor your progress, adjust your treatment plan as needed, and ensure you’re receiving the appropriate care for your specific needs.
What Can Postnatal Physiotherapy/Pelvic Floor Therapy help me with?
Diastasis recti is a condition where the abdominal muscles separate due to the stretching of the uterus to accommodate the growing baby. Postnatal physiotherapy can help strengthen your core and manage this condition with manual therapy techniques and corrective exercises.
A prolapse occurs when the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments become weakened, causing the uterus to descend into or protrude out of the vagina. While severe cases may require medical intervention, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through physiotherapy can prevent or manage mild cases of prolapse.
Incontinence, or loss of bladder control, is a common issue for many women during and after pregnancy. Prenatal and postnatal physiotherapy can help re-educate the pelvic floor muscles to improve bladder control and reduce or eliminate urinary incontinence.
Back and Hip Pain
As your body changes during pregnancy, you may experience lower back and hip pain. Your physiotherapist can provide exercises and techniques to alleviate this discomfort and improve your posture.
C-Section Scar Mobility
After a C-section, scar tissue forms to heal the incision. This scar formation can lead to pain and reduced mobility. Physiotherapy can help improve scar tissue mobility and reduce discomfort through manual therapy and therapeutic exercises.
What Can You Gain from Postnatal Physiotherapy?
Postnatal physiotherapy offers numerous benefits for new mothers. Some key outcomes you can expect to gain from postnatal physiotherapy include:
- Restored Pelvic Floor Function: Postnatal physiotherapy focuses on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, improving their coordination, and addressing any issues such as urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.
- Core Rehabilitation: Post-pregnancy, your abdominal muscles may have weakened or experienced separation (diastasis recti). Postnatal physiotherapy can guide you through exercises and techniques to restore core strength and promote proper abdominal muscle function.
- Pain Relief: Postnatal physiotherapy can help alleviate any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing, including back pain, pelvic girdle pain, or musculoskeletal strains resulting from pregnancy or childbirth.
- Posture Correction: Your posture may have changed during pregnancy and after childbirth. Postnatal physiotherapy can provide guidance on improving your posture, addressing postural imbalances, and promoting musculoskeletal alignment.
- Guidance on Return to Exercise: Postnatal physiotherapy will include guidance on safely reintroducing exercise and physical activity into your routine. Your physiotherapist will help you develop an exercise plan that takes into account your recovery status, individual goals, and any specific considerations related to your childbirth experience.
By engaging in postnatal physiotherapy, you can accelerate your recovery, prevent long-term complications, and regain the physical strength and function necessary for the demands of motherhood.
Prenatal and postnatal physiotherapy play integral roles in supporting your journey to motherhood. These specialised forms of care can help manage pain, optimise pelvic floor function, restore core strength, and promote overall well-being during and after pregnancy. Whether you’re experiencing discomfort during pregnancy or seeking assistance with postpartum recovery, consulting with a pelvic floor therapist and engaging in physiotherapy can provide you with the personalised support and guidance you need. Remember, your body is unique, and the care you receive should be tailored to your specific needs and goals. Embrace the opportunity to prioritise your physical health, and let prenatal and postnatal physiotherapy support your journey into motherhood.
Contact Core Fitness today to start your journey to improved wellness
Is a pelvic floor therapist the same as a physiotherapist?
Yes, it is a specialised branch of Physiotherapy.
How do I know if I need pelvic floor therapy?
If you’re experiencing issues like incontinence, pelvic pain, or difficulty with bowel movements, you may benefit from pelvic floor therapy.
What can the Physiotherapist help me with?
Diastasis Recti, Prolapse, Urinary Incontinence, Back and Hip Pain, C-Section scar mobility. Helping to recover and return to normal activities.
How soon after birth can I see a pelvic floor therapist?
You can generally begin pelvic floor therapy around six weeks postpartum, but it’s best to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
When is it too late for pelvic floor therapy?
It’s never too late to start pelvic floor therapy. Whether you’re a new mum or have been a mum for years, pelvic floor therapy can help improve pelvic health at any stage.
Is pelvic floor therapy painful?
Pelvic floor therapy should not be painful. If you experience discomfort during treatment, inform your therapist immediately.
Should I go to pelvic floor physio before or after birth?
Both. Pelvic floor physiotherapy can be beneficial before and after birth. It helps prepare the pelvic floor muscles for delivery and aids in postpartum recovery.
Do C-section mums need pelvic floor therapy?
Yes. Even after a C-section, the pelvic floor has carried the weight of pregnancy, which can lead to weakness and other issues. Pelvic floor therapy can help strengthen these muscles.
What are signs of a weak pelvic floor?
Signs of a weak pelvic floor can include urinary or faecal incontinence, a heavy feeling in the pelvis, or difficulty with bowel movements.
Can my pelvic floor be too tight?
Yes, in some cases, the pelvic floor muscles can become too tight or overactive, leading to issues like pelvic pain and difficulty with urination and bowel movements.