The Benefits of Physical Therapy During and After Pregnancy

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Physical therapy may be something you associate more with athletes or those recovering from injury. However, physical therapy can be greatly beneficial for expectant mums, both during and after pregnancy. Here are some key benefits of physical therapy during pregnancy and for after your baby arrives.

Antenatal PT Benefits

Helping the Body Adapt

Pregnancy is a wonderful and special time. However, it does also require your body to undergo huge changes. Lots of women worry that it may no longer be safe to exercise when pregnant. A physical therapist can advise you best on how to stay active. By keeping your body moving, you can maintain strength and conditioning for your muscles. This can therefore make it easier to cope with everyday responsibilities, such as working or caring for other children, whilst pregnant.

The American Physical Therapy Association has lots more information as to how a physical therapist can help you take care of your body best during pregnancy. You can also check out our blog post Things You Can Do for a Healthy And Stress-Free Pregnancy for plenty of extra tips and advice.

Pain Management

Whilst many expectant mothers are aware of labor pain, pregnancy itself can also be pretty painful too. Painful side effects experienced during pregnancy can include:

  • Back Pain
  • Hip Pain
  • Girdle Pain

These pains can be due to a couple of main reasons. As a woman’s body adjusts to the growing baby, it is common for some joints to be moved out of alignment. This can cause intense pains, particularly in the hip and girdle area. Other reasons for feeling pain during pregnancy can include weight gain, which can put more pressure on the skeletal body. Hormonal changes can also bring along painful side effects too.

A physical therapist will be able to guide new mums-to-be as to the best way to manage pain. This is why the University of Kentucky Healthcare recommends all pregnant women suffering with musculoskeletal pain visit a physical therapist.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Another common painful side effect of pregnancy is carpal tunnel syndrome, with a reported 62% of all expectant mums suffering from this condition. A physical therapist can easily assist in making slight adjustments to your posture. They will also be able to provide hand and joint exercises to swiftly bring relief from any carpal tunnel-associated pain.

Labor and a Better Delivery

Giving birth and finally meeting your baby is one of the most incredible moments for all mum’s to experience. But labor can be a grueling challenge for the body, especially if you have stopped doing physical activity during pregnancy. A physical therapist will be able to advise what exercises can best prepare your body for this huge event. Exercises will include lots of muscle strengthening moves, particularly when it comes to:

  • Back Muscles
  • Abdominal Muscles
  • Strengthening Hips

A physical therapist will be able to create a bespoke exercise routine to make sure your body is primed and ready for giving birth. They will also be able to advise best birth positions too. This can be useful to know, especially when setting out your birth plan. The American Pregnancy Association has plenty more useful insights when it comes to reasons to use a physical therapist throughout your pregnancy journey.

Post-Partum PT Benefits

Can Help Urinary Problems

Congratulations! Your new baby is here, and pregnancy has come to an end. However, this doesn’t mean you should stop caring for your body. After giving birth, your body has gone through an enormous ordeal. Coupled with having also grown a baby in utero for nine months, it’s not surprising that many women suffer post-partum complications.

One of the most common of these is urinary problems – otherwise known as incontinence. Having the urge to go to the toilet more frequently or having leaks without warning can feel embarrassing. However, there are plenty of ways a physical therapist can help. As this is such a common post-partum side effect, a physical therapist can make sure you are strengthening your pelvic muscles, even when still pregnant. By activating these muscles, you can help to stop any unwanted leaks. The Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute also has plenty of resources and further information on this common problem for new mums.

Will Help Bounce Back

Lots of new mums want to ‘bounce back’ to their old bodies and optimum health levels after giving birth. A physical therapist will be able to create an exercise routine that lets you lose weight safely. They can also show you muscle strengthening exercises that are right for your post-partum body too. A physical therapist can even help new mums struggling with the breastfeeding side effect of mastitis.

Diastasis recti is another common side effect of pregnancy, where the abdominal muscles have separated to accommodate the growing baby. A physical therapist can again set out the right exercise routine to help gently bring together these separated muscles.

Help Cancer Survivors with Lymphatic System

For those new mothers who are also survivors of cancer, a big post-partum issue can be fluid retention. This is all down to the side effects of lymphedema, which can cause not just fluid retention, but also uncomfortable swelling. A physical therapist can suggest the best forms of compression and massage to alleviate any discomfort. These specific massage techniques can also help the lymphatic system to remove any excess fluids too.

Final Thoughts

There are many benefits of physical therapy for pregnant women, both during and after pregnancy. With targeted exercise to help keep the body strong, a physical therapist can ensure your pregnancy is as enjoyable and pain-free as possible. Seeking the advice of a physical therapist during pregnancy is also a great way to make sure that you feel great post-partum too.

Once your new baby arrives, it can be easy to forget about post-partum care. However, taking care of your body after giving birth is just as important as during pregnancy. A physical therapist will be able to support you during this transitional time, to give you a strong, happy and healthy body as a new mum.

Peter Keane is the owner of PHYSIOMOTION3D, a physiotherapy clinic that helps many mums during and after their pregnancies.

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