While pregnancy is a wonderful process in many ways, it can have a number of negative and long-lasting effects on a woman's body. Many people simply accept that lower back pain or injuries, urinary incontinence, reduced strength and flexibility, and a weakened pelvic floor are a natural part of pregnancy and the postpartum experience. This simply isn't the case though.
Physiotherapy, specialized to the needs of new mothers, can help them recover their flexibility, good health, strength, and control over bodily functions. Here are a few of the ways postnatal physiotherapy (and prenatal physiotherapy) can help new mothers to return to their daily activities quicker and without having to grapple with health issues that so many assume can't be avoided.
Active & Passive Physiotherapy
These two kinds of treatment describe both things done to you by a physical therapist (such as manual therapy, icing and heating, or electrostimulation) or specific activities and exercises that are prescribed to you by your physiotherapist to help strengthen injured or weakened parts of the body.
Pre- and post-natal physiotherapy programs often include manual therapy, which is used to treat specific parts of the body. When performed while pregnant, manual therapy is often used to alleviate lower back and hip pain associated with bearing all of the weight of a child. postnatal manual therapy is often done to reduce swelling, increase blood flow and circulation and improve the breastfeeding process.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
The pelvic floor and its associated muscles must bear a lot of extra weight during pregnancy. In addition, hormones released in the body in the lead-up to birth encourage the pelvic muscles to relax in preparation for vaginal birth. Both of these factors contribute to a stretching out and weakening (or even injury) of the pelvic floor throughout pregnancy.
As a result, new moms often have to contend with reduced control over their bowel movements for a period of time after their pregnancy. This often expresses itself as urinary incontinence for a few months. In more severe cases can mean lifelong urinary incontinence or even damage a partial loss of control to the anal sphincter.
Our physiotherapists can design physiotherapy programs for new mothers that include a variety of exercises to help recover the health and strength of the pelvic floor, prevent future pain and injuries, and help them regain control over their bodily functions. While kegels are often discussed as a good option for doing this, it's important that you consult a physiotherapist before undertaking any pelvic floor exercises when recovering from pregnancy. Kegels are only one of many different exercises that can help you recover and may even make your health issues worse if you aren't doing them properly.
Postnatal Yoga & Pilates
Exercises like those offered by yoga practices specifically targeted at new mothers will help them to safely recover strength in their abdomen strength and improve their fitness and flexibility as they recover from pregnancy.
Please keep in mind though, that you mustn't undertake strenuous activity of any kind—especially the kind that engages with weakened parts of your body—without consulting with a physiotherapist to determine how you can start to support your recovering body without causing it further injury.
Offered both prenatal and postnatal, acupuncture and dry needling help to encourage circulation, relax muscles and promote healing and recovery from the pregnancy process. Additionally, acupuncture offered by our Orleans physical therapists can help to alleviate some aspects of postpartum depression.
This treatment is most effective when done in combination with other treatment and strengthening options. Your pelvic floor physiotherapist will be able to provide your with a comprehensive treatment plan that is customized to your body's unique needs as your work to return to your normal life, strength and function.