Perinatal & Postpartum Education & Treatment
Having a baby is an amazing, life changing experience in so many ways. For every woman, the physical changes that happen during pregnancy and delivery share some commonalities, but each woman is also unique and individual in how these events impact their body and movement.
Some changes that can happen during pregnancy include:
- The ligaments holding bones together become looser so the bones can shift to accommodate the growing fetus.
- Abdominal muscles stretch and can sometimes separate at the abdomen midline. This is called a diastasis recti.
- Stomach and baby growth changes the centre of mass and alters posture.
- Pressure of the growing fetus pushes up on the rib cage and can change breathing and the function of your diaphragm and Thoracic Rings.
- Low back pain can inhibit the proper functioning of deep abdominal muscles, deep back muscles, and pelvic floor muscles.
If you’re experiencing symptoms and difficulties with activities and movement during pregnancy, a whole-body assessment will allow us to target treatment and give you a home exercise program so you can stay active and strong during your pregnancy.
Our pelvic floor therapists (Jane Bruce, Lisa Nakagawa, & Kate Morrison) can also assess your pelvic floor & movement strategies pre-delivery and educate you on ways to help prepare and optimize your body for delivery. We’ll check / go over:
- breathing coordination with your pelvic floor – as you breathe, your pelvic floor should move with your diaphragm. By ensuring that the pelvic floor coordinates properly with your breath, we are allowing it to move through its entire range of motion/length available.
- perineal stretching – this is a technique where you or your partner use your fingers to stretch the perineum. This is typically done after the 37th week of pregnancy.
- optimizing the function of your pelvis in daily activities – in order for the pelvis to be at its best for childbirth, we have to make sure it’s functioning optimally during pregnancy. The aim of our whole-body treatment and exercise program are to train optimal function of your pelvis throughout your day to day life so that it is ready for the challenges of childbirth and is primed for a good recovery.
Delivering the baby can come with other stresses:
- Vaginal delivery stretches the pelvic floor muscles and supporting fascia, and can also affect the nerves supplying the pelvic floor.
- There can be tearing of the pelvic floor muscles and fascia which may require an episiotomy. This can cause scar tissue.
- The pubic symphysis can separate.
- C-sections create trauma to the abdominal wall and scarring.
All in all, your body after baby can feel very different than it did before childbirth. Overstretched abdominal and pelvic floor muscles don’t provide the support they once did. Hormonal changes, breast feeding and changes in activity all contribute to changes in the structure of your tissues. Your muscles, ligaments, skin and joints may all be more mobile and provide less support so you feel like you move with less control and stability. And on top of that, carrying and feeding your child can put you in some awkward positions and contribute to loss of movement variability.
The body is great at finding ways to adapt when things are not working properly, but these adaptations are not always the best way for you to function long term. While it’s difficult to find time with a new child in your life, it’s important to take care of your body after pregnancy to improve your short term function and prevent future damage that can occur because of the compensation strategies you may be using. These adverse strategies may lead to:
- Uterine or bladder prolapse
- Altered experience and sensations during intercourse
- Hip or groin pain
- Neck and back pain
At SynergyPhysio + Pilates the therapists have the skills and knowledge to help you deal with problems that may arise during your pregnancy and to get you and your body functioning optimally again after pregnancy and delivery. We may use our Real-Time Ultrasound (RTUS) machine to check your abdominal function & rectus diastasis, and teach you how to use your abdominal muscles correctly. Or you may need to see one of our Pelvic Floor Therapists, who have special advanced training to assess & treat pelvic floor function. Using internal techniques, a pelvic floor physiotherapist can release muscles and nerves, work on scar tissue and help you regain function of your pelvic floor muscles. Check out more information on our Healthy Pelvic Floor Program here.
Overall, problems with your abdominal muscles, pelvic girdle pain and pelvic floor problems need to be assessed in the context of your whole body – everything is connected. At Synergy Physio + Pilates we consider all the different influences that make your perinatal & post-partum experience with your body unique – such as your past injuries and activities – and design an individual treatment plan to help you reach your goals.