The Challenges During Pregnancy - Physio Penrith

The Challenges During Pregnancy- 5 Things You Need To Know

Pregnancy is an amazing and exciting time, however it also comes with its challenges including hormonal changes, posture and balance changes, as well as a range of conditions that can be experienced during the course of the pregnancy. Here are five things you need to know and how physiotherapy can help.

1. Pregnancy-related low back pain

Research has found that 50% of pregnant women suffer from low back pain with 80% experiencing discomfort during daily activities, and unfortunately this can often worsen as pregnancy advances. One factor that may contribute to this pain includes increased weight gain during the pregnancy, which contributes to an increased lumbar lordosis (arching) and therefore more load on the spine.

How can we help? Early interventions like specific strengthening, lumbar mobility exercises and maintaining control of your pelvic muscles can increase resilience and load tolerance as you progress through your pregnancy.

"Women without contraindications should participate in regular aerobic and strength conditioning exercise during pregnancy" - The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists

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2. Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain

Up to 63% of women at the 30th gestation week develop pelvic girdle pain due to not only the changes that occur naturally with pregnancy, such as changes to your posture, increased pressure on your pelvis due to the growth of your baby and hormonal changes which soften the ligaments that support the pelvis. Pelvic girdle pain is pain in the pelvic joints that may develop during or after pregnancy and can often impact sitting, walking, standing as well as other activities such as turning in bed.

How can we help? We can help supply you with a compression garment or support belt, prescribe strengthening exercises for the hip, pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles and utilise soft tissue massage or trigger points to release painful muscles.

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"Women should be advised that there is NO evidence that regular exercise during an uncomplicated pregnancy is detrimental to the woman or fetus" - The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists

3. Pelvic floor dysfunction

One third of pregnant women experience a pelvic floor dysfunction such as urinary incontinence. The benefits of a healthy pelvic floor are numerous. Exercising these muscles before falling pregnant and during pregnancy can decrease the damage done to the muscles by the strain of carrying a growing baby, decrease the risk of injury during a vaginal birth and speed up recovery afterwards. A strong pelvic floor can also make sex more enjoyable.

 

How can we help? When it comes to strengthening your pelvic floor it’s a case of the earlier, the better and it's about utilising the correct techniques and cues.

4. Pregnancy-related musculoskeletal complaints

Many musculoskeletal conditions or injuries associated with ligament laxity, which occurs due to the increased levels of oestrogen and relax may result in an increased risk of muscle strains and joint sprains, as well as other conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. 

How can we help? We understand and support the growing indication of benefits of regular exercise for the prevention and management of maternal-fetal conditions, complaints and diseases. The prescription of a well-guided, evidence based progressive exercise program should be part of your pregnancy journey. 

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5. Shorter & less complicated labour

Regular exercise during pregnancy has also been associated with shorter and less complicated labour, as well as fewer neonatal complications (although the evidence is not conclusive). Regarding the offspring, animal studies have demonstrated benefits of maternal exercise for glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and body composition in offspring, but studies in humans are limited to some preliminary evidence for beneficial effects of maternal exercise on childhood body composition and infant cardiac autonomic control.

Nevertheless, participating in an early, well-guided strengthening program will provide many benefits to both you and your baby - without causing complications or adverse effects.

"Indeed, pregnancy may be one of the most important times to adopt a routine of regular exercise given that lifestyle during pregnancy imprints the future health of the child"