Six reasons to see a pelvic floor physio during pregnancy

It is very true that pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal period is physically challenging for a woman as they undergo various physical, hormonal and emotional changes. Often these changes can put extra strain on your body especially on your pelvic floor, back and abdominal muscles, which can result in pain and discomfort. It is amazing to know what body undergoes during this perinatal period. In order to help you during this incredible journey, we at WOW physio provide the following checks and treatments.

1. Pelvic floor check during pregnancy and education

Assessment of pelvic floor function in the second trimester if it is weak or tight, measuring length of perineal body and advising exercises accordingly. Educating women regarding birthing choices, risk factors and supporting women in considering maternal health as key part during birthing process. Perineal massage or Epi-No advice to reduce tearing during birth and finally advising on postnatal recovery.

2. Pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain

This is quite common in pregnancy but not normal, it can occur either during pregnancy or postnatally. At World of Women, we educate you on how to move in the best possible way during your daily activities, prescribe exercises to stabilise your pelvis and restore its alignment and symmetry. External supports, activity modification, hands on techniques if required and safe birthing options are also discussed.

3. Postnatal assessment

We strongly recommend postnatal check for new mums who delivered their baby either vaginally or via c-section to help maximise their recovery post-delivery. This is usually done at 6 weeks postnatally. The risk factors for pelvic floor issues are >4 kg baby, first pregnancy, quick labour, long labour (>90 mins) forceps, vacuum delivery, episiotomy, perineal tears. Our specialists pelvic floor physios will check your pelvic floor, core, abdominal muscle separation, incontinence, prolapse, back pain, perineal pain, c-section scar pain and educate you on safe exercises which will assist you in returning to your favourite sport.

Even though you might not be symptomatic in the early postnatal period, these pelvic floor issues may pose a problem when you return to sport or when you reach menopause. So, it is highly recommended to deal with these issues when they are silent in order to prevent future issues like urinary leakage, prolapse and abdominal separation.

4. Mastitis / blocked ducts

Almost 1 in 5 women are affected by Mastitis which commonly develops in the first 3 months post birth. Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast often as a result of a blocked milk duct. Left untreated this can become incredibly painful and leave you feeling feverish, with the infected area of the breast becoming very red and hot. At world of women physiotherapy, we carry out ultrasound therapy. This is useful for treating Mastitis as the ultrasound waves help to break down the blockage and prevent on going symptoms. Ultrasound Therapy is thought to enhance healing rates, tissue relaxation, local blood flow and tissue heating.

5. Abdominal separation

Abdominal separation is a perfectly normal part of pregnancy and it happens in 99% of population. You cannot avoid it as baby needs growing space. But it is very important that you focus on the abdominal separation after baby is born by focusing on the rehabilitation of tummy muscles. It is really important to do abdominal exercises in the right way to make sure that the separation of the linea alba draws together. If you do wrong exercises or do them too hard, the separation can widen and this means that tummy can look domed or ridged.

We use real time ultrasound for both the assessment and treatment of the lumbopelvic core muscles. This tool provides a valuable insight into how the deep stability muscles of the lumbopelvic region are working for those with low back or pelvic girdle pain. We teach you how to reactivate your deep core muscles and then incorporate this with your functional movements. If needed we will measure and fit you with SRC garments to aid in your recovery.

6. Return to exercise check and goal setting

Every woman recovers in her own pace and has different postpartum goals in regards to return to exercise and activity. Whatever is your goal, it is important to discuss this with your pelvic floor physio and work together on how to achieve them safely. We strongly encourage and empower women to be active postnatally. Return to exercise check involves testing your core strength, pelvic floor and prolapse check, ability to transfer a load effectively, high impact exercises and weight training etc whatever you want to achieve individually. As every woman’s pregnancy, hormonal changes, birth trauma, pelvic floor muscle activation is different, it is expected no one size fits all and you need a very individual approach to return to exercise.

To sum up, although there are many common problems that affect women in the short and long term after childbirth like incontinence, vaginal prolapse, abdominal separation, back pain etc, there is help available to prevent and treat these issues. You do not need to wait for problems to occur or to worsen, you can be proactive by seeing a specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist in the early months after delivery.