During Pregnancy, a woman’s body transforms as its main purpose shifts from staying alive, to creating and sustaining a new life. With this shift, it’s natural to experience new physical and emotional sensations–some more pleasant than others.
As your body prepares for the important task of giving birth, it’s common to experience some discomfort in your back, hips or legs. Many women endure physical discomfort accepting it as an inevitable part of pregnancy, but it doesn’t have to be. Proper exercise, stretches and manual therapy techniques can help.
Physical changes during pregnancy
Every body and every pregnancy are unique, and so is every woman’s experience but there are universal changes that occur in your body.
Shifting Center of Gravity
As your baby bump grows, it shifts your center of gravity forward and your spine relaxes into a new position to help support it. This changes the way your muscles function and may create imbalances throughout your spine and pelvis.
Stretchier Joints and Ligaments
At the same time, hormones are making your ligaments and joints more supple, allowing them to stretch during birth. While this makes the transition easier for the baby as it goes from womb to the world, it can cause some achiness and discomfort as you progress through your pregnancy.
Supporting your body
It’s natural that some muscles are tightened and others stretched as they move to accommodate the shifting position of your body. Working to improve the extensibility of tight muscles and soft tissues, and making sure your muscles engaged and strong will support your ligaments and joints- and your growing baby!
A physical therapist or chiropractor can provide a customized exercise plan and hands on therapy to address your body’s needs.
What’s happening AFTER your BABY
Your body did the awesome task of growing a human for almost a year, so it’s normal and expected to have some deficits in muscle strength and endurance. Regaining strength, stability, flexibility, and endurance is crucial so you can attend to your newborn’s needs.
Your core may not feel as strong as it was pre-pregnancy. You may even receive the scary-sounding diagnosis of Diastatis Recti. This is just a common and easily managed condition that occurs when the area between the abdominal muscles stay stretched out after giving birth.
If you’ve noticed leaks with coughing, laughing, sneezing, or jumping, you are not alone. After birth, there may be resultant pelvic floor dysfunction including incontinence, bladder control problems, or pelvic pain.
While these conditions are common, they are NOT normal and they can be treated. A provider that specializes in pelvic floor pain can perform manual therapy create a care plan to address these concerns.
A Cesarean section is a big surgery, just like a knee replacement or rotator cuff repair. It requires rehabilitation to teach your muscles to fire correctly after the operation. Your incisional area may also be a source of movement dysfunction so care to understand how managing the scar tissue may help with
Often, women don’t get a lot of guidance on the do’s and don’ts of exercise following C-section. Your provider can help create a specialized program that is safe to do after baby.
Exercises like sit ups that were great for you in the past are not recommended now. You will be doing a lot of lifting and carrying after baby is born, and it is crucial to learn to engage your core to protect your joints.
Caring for yourself before, during and after Pregnancy
No matter where you are in your pregnancy journey, having a physical therapist or chiropractor as part of your care team can help manage and prevent common aches and pains, and set you up for a successful recovery. The most important thing is that a mama takes care of herself so she can take care of her baby, and Orthology providers can help empower her to do that!
Orthology physical therapists are now treating patients at 18 YMCA Locations, but all of our PTs and chiropractors work with women before, during and after pregnancy. To schedule an appointment with one of our providers go to Orthology.com or call (952) 222-5769.
Marie Armstrong and Becca Jorgenson are Orthology PTs that contributed to this article and specialize in pregnancy treatment. Marie also specializes in pelvic floor pain. She sees patients at Shoreview YMCA, White Bear Lake YMCA and the St. Paul Downtown YMCA. Becca treats patients at Blaisdell YMCA and the Orthology clinic offices in Woodbury and Maple Grove.