Pregnancy and Physical Therapy: Reducing Pain While Increasing Health

From the announcement of pregnancy to the delivery of a new baby, the journey of childbirth is an exciting one. A mother’s body endures some extraordinary changes through all the pregnancy phases, which often affect her musculoskeletal system for the long term. There are noticeable changes such as posture differences and weight gain, as well as general discomfort from lower back pain or sciatica conditions. A pregnant mother’s body is also working harder than ever with increased blood volume, shifting organs, and taxed circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems.

Many of the changes that a mother-to-be can experience resolve naturally. However, an appointment with a physical therapist for orthopedic rehabilitation might be needed to help during pregnancy, after pregnancy, or both—especially if a mother is experiencing recurring pain, discomfort, or a limited range of motion. Despite a common misconception, physical therapy (PT) is not just about rehabilitation and recovery. During pregnancy, PT can be highly beneficial for pain management, swelling reduction, birth preparation, and even incontinence management. In addition, it can allow you to feel more in control of your body, your pain, and your pregnancy in general.

Safe Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise is typically a good thing when you’re pregnant. Even if you feel fatigued or get winded easily, exercise has a long list of benefits that make the struggle worth it. Expectant mothers who exercise often benefit from enhanced core strength, improved mood, and maintained blood pressure and fluid retention. The list of benefits is equally long for the baby. You should take it slow if you need to, but unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, exercise should be a regular part of your prenatal routine. Just listen to your body and your doctor.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently updated its guidelines on pregnancy and exercise, stating, “Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises before, during, and after pregnancy.”

This advice is sound, but it can yield many questions for expectant mothers, especially given how unique each pregnancy can be. These singular experiences are another area where meeting with a physical therapist during pregnancy can be beneficial. A therapist can assess you and your baby’s unique needs and then recommend a personalized home exercise routine or activities you can do to maintain comfort while getting the aerobic workout that is healthy and necessary.

The Top 10 Causes of Pregnancy Pain

Pain is an expected component of pregnancy. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing that can be done or that pain just needs to be accepted. When looking at a list of the most common types of pain during pregnancy, most can be mitigated with a pregnancy physical therapy regimen. The list includes:

  • Sciatica
  • Back pain
  • General nerve pain
  • Pain in the pelvic region and hips
  • Coccyx pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Leg cramps
  • Headaches
  • Leg and foot pain
  • TMJ flare-ups

In addition to pain management, your physical therapist can provide valuable education on how to move safely during and after pregnancy, including how to care for your infant and prevent lifting injuries. Today, strollers, car seats, and cribs have been made safer for children but at the cost of making it harder for a mom, dad, or grandparent to be able to get the child in or out of each device without challenging their own body mechanics. Physical therapists can help you practice the correct techniques to protect your body and understand the rules to keep you strong and pain-free.

Choosing the Right Physical Therapy Program for Your Pregnancy

Physical therapists are specially trained in movement to reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Also known as a physiotherapist, a therapist will assess your needs and provide suggestions on correcting them, along with exercises to help strengthen your body. Pregnancy physical therapy tends to focus on hip and core muscle strength, the alignment of joints, pain management, lower back problems, and flexibility, to name a few. PT treatment during pregnancy can include the use of bands or weights, specialized equipment, or manual therapy. If you are looking for a pregnancy physical therapy program, the American Pregnancy Association recommends paying attention to the following criteria. Make sure your therapist is:

  • Managed by a certified professional.
  • Focused on building strength, increasing flexibility, and improving posture.
  • Encompassing home-based elements for you to do yourself.
  • Proactively looking for any weakness which may become a problem later.

Not only does the rehabilitation team at MOSH check all of the boxes above, but many of our therapists are moms, dads, aunts, uncles, or godparents. We know where you’re coming from and where you’re going as a parent. MOSH can help relieve your pain and make your pregnancy journey enjoyable and full of excitement for you and your family. For more information about pregnancy PT, please contact us.