Pregnancy is an exciting but often overwhelming time in your life, sparking huge changes to your lifestyle and your body. Here are some top tips from Sorcha Callaghan, a Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor at Capital Physio.
Don’t suffer in silence
Lower back pain and pelvic girdle pain are common but pregnancy related conditions affecting over 50% of women, but this doesn’t mean you should suffer in silence! If you experience discomfort when walking, pain when using stairs or reduced ability to perform daily tasks, we highly recommend that you book a physiotherapy assessment.
Pelvic girdle pain responds well to treatment but left untreated it could linger for up to two years. Following a thorough assessment, a physiotherapy treatment plan will aim to reduce pain and restore function through manual therapy techniques, exercise and lifestyle advice.
Prevention can be better than a cure
It is important to pace yourself during pregnancy, whether at home, work or keeping fit. Listen to your body, learn what aggravates your pain and try to reduce or stop these activities. Request a workstation ergonomic assessment if they are available at your workplace, to ensure your workplace is appropriately set up and you are not sitting awkwardly or repetitively twisting your body to reach for objects.
Avoid asymmetrical pelvis positions when sitting or standing. For example, no cross legged sitting and no leaning more heavily on one leg, particularly when holding anything heavy such as car seats, bags and babies! On that note be careful when lifting heavy objects, ask for help where possible, or you risk additional strain in the lumbar spine and pelvic girdle which could increasing your pain levels.
This is a very common pregnancy related condition, particularly likely to occur at night. While most women’s leg cramps will stop once the baby arrives, there are some small changes you can make to keep cramps at bay during pregnancy.
Try to rest lying down at least once a day, and make time for exercises such as light walking, ankle circles and calf pumps, which are all simple and useful ways to stave off leg cramps. Regular calf and hamstring stretches twice daily will help to relax and lengthen the main muscle groups prone to cramping.
Pelvic floor training
We know you’ve heard it a million times, but pelvic floor training really is essential before, during and after pregnancy for both the management and prevention of incontinence. The
pelvic floor muscles support the weight of the baby during pregnancy and stretch during delivery therefore they need to be re-trained for both short and long term health benefits.
Healthy pelvic floor muscles prevent pelvic girdle pain syndrome, bladder and bowel problems, organ prolapse and can restore sensation during sex. Alternate between lifting and squeezing these muscles ten times slowly with a ten second hold and fast squeezing without a hold. If you have difficulty activating pelvic floor muscles a physiotherapy assessment can assist with this and put your mind at rest that you’re working the right muscles.
Keep fit and carry on!
It is important to maintain fitness levels throughout pregnancy, but also worth noting that we recommend avoiding any brand new exercise regime during the first trimester.
Gentle yoga is a great way to maintain length in your muscles, while pilates can help to strengthen the pelvic floor, abdominal and trunk muscles which will both manage and prevent back pain. Swimming and light walking are great ways to maintain cardiovascular fitness and endurance for labour, so your body is prepared for the task ahead.