Do you want to avoid birthing complications such as incontinence, prolapse, scar healing issues and pain? The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has been lobbying for women’s health physiotherapists to be a part of the standard care team for all pregnant ladies before and after they have their baby. The UK has recently released new guidelines recommending women’s health physiotherapists to see all pregnant women even if they do not have current issues. It is especially recommended when women are at more higher risks of developing pelvic floor issues such as women having one or more of the following: women who are older having their first child, women who have existing incontinence issues or who have a family history of pelvic floor issues, babies who are heavier and if the pregnant mother is less than 160cm and the baby is more than 4kg. Women who have gestational diabetes have a higher risk of having heavier babies.
Women’s health physiotherapists can assess and treat pregnant and postnatal women who have pelvic pain. Muscles can be overworked or weak to have a decreased capacity to support the joints in your pelvis. A good treatment session would address these issues and maintain these gains with an individualised, prescribed exercise program.
Having a baby with a vaginal delivery can have the risk of tearing in the genital region called the perineum. Before having your first baby, it is recommended that perineal massage be used to help assist stretching these tissues, familiarise the mum-to-be to know what it feels like to stretch in that area and learn how to relax when that area is being stretched. A women’s health physiotherapist can teach and demonstrate to the pregnant woman or their partner how to do this safely and effectively.
Assessing the pelvic floor is essential to know how weak, strong or overactive the muscles can be. It is never too late to commence on an exercise program as this really is a life long project to continue for the rest of one’s life even after having the baby if you want to minimise any issues in the future. Addressing pelvic floor issues is important to solve the problem rather than ignoring the issue and risking it getting worse.
General recommendations for pregnant women to exercise is very strong and a women’s health physiotherapist can help guide a pregnant lady what is appropriate or not. Pre-existing medical issues, whether it is a high risk birth, pain issues, pre-existing fitness are all factors to be considered when tailoring an exercise program for someone. Being fit and strong increases a women’s ability to get through what can be a long birth and help with the recovery process to bounce back better after the birth. An exercise program after birth needs to consider issues such as pelvic floor weakness, abdominal separation or pain issues.
Book in with your women’s health physiotherapist, Bo, at Inspired Physiotherapy to help you through your pregnancy and the recovery after birth.