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Integrative Family Health Clinic in Bolton and the Greater Caledon Area
4-22 Simona Drive
Bolton, ON
Physiotherapy for pregnancy and postpartum Wildflower health and wellness clinic

Supporting Changing Bodies: Physiotherapy for Pregnancy and Postpartum

Pregnancy is an exciting period of time that comes with lots of changes to your body. As your baby grows, there are so many noticeable changes that connect you to your growing baby. Your baby bump starts to pop and grow, and eventually, you’ll start to feel your baby kick. With these changes, however, you may also be experiencing some not-so-exciting symptoms.

What body changes happen with pregnancy?

As your baby bump grows beyond your natural frame, your abdominal muscles elongate and your rib cage allows for more room to accommodate. These changes shift the dynamics of how you breathe and how your core muscles — such as your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles — function.

Your pelvic organs and digestive organs accommodate a growing baby by changing positions, which affects how these organs function.

Changes in the abdominal and pelvic organs can lead to a host of unexpected symptoms, for example:

  • low back pain
  • pelvic girdle pain
  • hip pain
  • rib pain
  • shortness of breath
  • constipation
  • increased frequency of urination
  • incontinence (leaking urine) on the way to the bathroom; or when coughing, sneezing, squatting, jumping, or running
  • vaginal heaviness
  • pain during intercourse
  • “lightning” crotch pain
organ changes during pregnancy
Source: Pearson Education

What is prenatal physiotherapy?

Prenatal physiotherapy supports a pregnant person’s body during pregnancy, before baby’s birth. The focus of prenatal physiotherapy is:

1. To maintain a strong core and normal breathing mechanics

Strong core muscles and normal breathing mechanics are supported when physiotherapists assess:

  • how you are holding your rib cage and pelvic when you stand, sit, and move
  • what your breathing pattern is
  • how you activate your core muscles for stability

Together, you and your physiotherapist will work together on rib and hip mobility in addition to abdominal muscle mobility and strength. We will optimize your breathing pattern and ensure you know how to activate your core muscles.

2. To prepare your pelvic floor for labour and delivery

Kegels aren’t appropriate for everyone. Pelvic health physiotherapists can assess your pelvic floor to learn whether your pelvic floor muscles are in a state of tension, whether you are able to relax them, and whether or not you need to be practicing Kegels.

Relaxing and lengthening your pelvic floor muscles is a key function for labour and delivery. Your pelvic health physiotherapist should work on your ability to consciously relax and lengthen your pelvic floor, in addition to treating any tension that exists in the area. Finally, prenatal physiotherapy involves improving the mobility of your perineal membrane, another layer of tissue in the area, which also needs to lengthen and open during labour and delivery.

3. To teach you positions, pain management, and pushing strategies for labour and delivery

Finally, prenatal physiotherapy involves preparing you, not just your muscles, for labour and delivery. Guided by your physiotherapist, you will learn certain positions that support pain management in addition to learning how to push during labour and delivery.

What is postpartum physiotherapy?

Postpartum physiotherapy supports an individual’s body after pregnancy, or after giving birth. During the postpartum period, many of the symptoms experienced during pregnancy may still persist. In addition, the postpartum body may also experience:

  • painful perineal scar
  • painful and immobile C-section scar
  • pelvic organ prolapse (vaginal, uterine, or rectal prolapse)
  • diastasis recti, also known as “mommy pooch” or “mommy tummy”

The focus of postpartum physiotherapy is:

1. To regain a strong core and normal breathing mechanics

In the postpartum phase, your physiotherapist will work with you to ensure that the position of your rib cage and pelvic return to neutral, that your breathing mechanics return to a normal pattern, and that you are able to activate your core muscles in a balanced and coordinated way, without overcompensating muscles that might cause further pain or dysfunction.

2. To regain a strong pelvic floor

Pelvic health physiotherapists will also re-assess how your pelvic floor muscles have responded to labour and delivery and ensure that you regain the full strength and function of y our pelvic floor muscles.

3. To support C-section and perineal scar healing

Births may result in either a C-section scar, perineal tearing or scarring, or pelvic trauma in general. There are many techniques that your pelvic health physiotherapist can use to support healing and improve the mobility of C-section and perineal scars, to prevent future pain and restrictions in the tissue.

Summary

Overall, the goal of prenatal and postpartum physiotherapy is to ensure that you have:

  • a healthy and strong pregnancy
  • a smooth labour and delivery; and
  • a full recovery

in order to return to all the daily activities that you love, pain- and restriction-free, with your new baby.

If you’re ready to get started, our pelvic health physiotherapist accepts patients in the Bolton, Caledon, and Peel regions.

Postpartum Support

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Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy Postpartum

Ever wonder why pelvic floor physiotherapy has stirred up some great conversation topics amongst friends and family with little ones? After giving birth, a woman’s body, in particular her pelvic floor, has gone through an array of changes. Whether you’ve had a vaginal or cesarean birth, the pelvic floor and other soft tissue structures surrounding have been affected. Other determinants that can affect your pelvic floor structures include the size of your baby, the duration of labour, the delivery method used, and the number or pregnancies you’ve had.

Take a look at the statements below, do any of these sound familiar?

“I am peeing my pants when I laugh, cough, sneeze or jump!”

“I am noticing doming of my belly when lifting my child or rolling out of bed”

“I had a c-section and I can’t stand looking at my scar, it also hurts to touch.”

“It hurts to have intercourse.”

“I’m nervous to have intercourse again, I don’t know what it’s like down there after the baby.”

“I feel like there’s a golf ball pushing out of my vagina.”

“I want to get back into the gym, but not sure what exercises to do and not do at this point.”

If any of these statements or thoughts have crossed your mind since having your baby, a visit to see the pelvic floor physiotherapist is a MUST!

Checklist

Here is a simple checklist that you can also use to see whether or not you should pick up the phone and make an appointment with your physiotherapist:

Ο   6 weeks after having a vaginal birth

Ο   8 weeks after having a cesarean section

Ο   Diagnosed with Diastasis Recti or “Mummy Tummy”

Ο   Experiencing urinary or fecal incontinence

Ο   Diagnosed with a POP (pelvic organ prolapse)

Ο   Pelvic pain with or without intercourse

Ο   Getting back to the gym, running, etc.

Ο   Lower back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain

Ο   Episiotomy performed during delivery

Ο   Any grade 1-4 tearing during labour and delivery

If, after having your six-week follow up with your doctor, OBGYN, and/or midwife, any of the above have been mentioned, seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist can impact the healing and function of your pelvic structures after having your baby. The results of regular physiotherapy treatment for a minimum of an 8-week period have demonstrated positive tissue healing and a strong, functional pelvic floor regardless of complications with birth.

– Nabila Jutha, PT

[/bt_text][bt_hr top_spaced=”topSmallSpaced” bottom_spaced=”bottomSmallSpaced” transparent_border=”noBorder” el_class=”” el_style=”” responsive=””][/bt_hr][bt_row_inner][bt_column_inner width=”1/1″ align=”center” cell_padding=”default” vertical_align=”inherit” highlight=”no_highlight” background_color=”” opacity=”” el_class=”” el_style=””][bt_button text=”Postpartum Recovery Starts Here – Work with WHW!” icon=”” url=”https://wildflowerhw.janeapp.com/” target=”_self” style=”Outline” icon_position=”Inline” color=”Accent” size=”Medium” width=”Normal” el_class=”” el_style=”” responsive=””][/bt_button][/bt_column_inner][/bt_row_inner][bt_hr top_spaced=”topSmallSpaced” bottom_spaced=”bottomSemiSpaced” transparent_border=”noBorder” el_class=”” el_style=”” responsive=””][/bt_hr][bt_dropdown title=”References” dd_content=”Allen, R., Hosker, G., Smith, A. and Warrell, D. (1991). Pelvic Floor Damage and Childbirth. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, 46(4), pp.209-210.;#
Handa, V., Blomquist, J., McDermott, K., Friedman, S. and Muñoz, A. (2012). Pelvic Floor Disorders After Childbirth: Effect of Episiotomy, Perineal Laceration, and Operative Birth. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 119(2, Part 1), pp.233-239.;#
Morkved, S. and Bo, K. (2000). Effect of postpartum pelvic floor muscle training in prevention and treatment of urinary incontinence: a one-year follow up. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 107(8), pp.1022-1028.;#” el_class=”” el_style=”” responsive=””][/bt_dropdown][bt_hr top_spaced=”topSmallSpaced” bottom_spaced=”bottomSemiSpaced” transparent_border=”noBorder” el_class=”” el_style=”” responsive=””][/bt_hr][/bt_column][/bt_row][/bt_section]