Prenatal Physical Therapy – What can it do for me?

Pregnancy is one of the most exciting, life-changing, loving, and vulnerable times of a woman’s life. While a woman is concerned with taking the right vitamins, buying the right car seat, her changing body, and trying to prepare at work for maternity leave, she forgets to take care of her own aches and pains; chalking it up as just the reality of pregnancy.

The reality is a long laundry list of “common” discomforts and pathologies which can easily be treated by physical therapists.

Issues such as:

– Sciatica
– Plantar fasciitis
– Diastasis recti
– Headaches and neck pain
– Low back pain
– SI joint pain
– Episiotomy prevention education

All of these can be addressed through gentle mobilization, stabilization, prescribed exercise, and education on postures and positioning as your body changes throughout pregnancy.

Your physical therapist can also be a valuable source for stretches and positions to help get your baby into position. Things as easy as, sitting higher in your desk chair so your hips are above your knees, allowing your pelvis to roll forward.

Exercise is obviously a physical therapists best tool. However, specific exercises prescribed to allow for hip opening, while also providing stability, are valuable for preventing pain throughout pregnancy and providing optimal strength and endurance during delivery. A physical therapist can also be a great resource to modify your exercise routine to protect your joints as they are affected by hormonal changes, protect your baby’s vital growth as the fetus is affected by changes during exercise, and protect your pelvic floor health.

Some of the advantages of exercise during pregnancy include:
Improved or maintained physical fitness
Improved body image
Improved muscle strength and energy levels
Decrease in low back pain and pelvic pain
Improves placental growth and maternal cardiovascular reserve.
Shorter time in labor
Less occurrence of gestational diabetes

Great care should be taken while deciding on exercise while pregnant. Taking your heart rate regularly is vital.  Due to your blood volume increasing a great deal early in pregnancy, your heart rate raises to levels higher than your effort may predict. Depending on your age, and previous fitness level, your heart rate should be kept below 140 beats per minute to prevent a decrease in fetal blood flow.

Taking care of your own aches and pains during pregnancy will not only improve your quality of life and pregnancy, but paying attention to your fitness and wellness during this time can improve your birth and your postpartum experience. Do not hesitate to seek out the assistance of a physical therapist during this busy and exciting time.