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Physiotherapy in Pregnancy: What to expect when you’re expecting…

Pregnancy is truly an amazing experience for most moms-to-be. We are so consumed by this little life growing inside and would do anything to keep our little prince/princess safe (rightly so). 9 months seems like an eternity, but before you know it, baby is here and you can’t imagine life pre-baby.

Evolution of pregnancy

But what you can remember, along with the 9 months of magical moments, is all the aches and pains that come with pregnancy. All moms, whether veteran moms, new moms, or moms-to-be, tend to put their child first and their well-being last. Visiting a physiotherapist during pregnancy (and post-pregnancy), may help to alleviate many physical signs/symptoms of pregnancy. Don’t suffer through it, there is help for you!

5 Most Common Physical Signs/Symptoms during Pregnancy

1- Awkward sleeping/rest positions

As you get closer to delivery, your body gets more uncomfortable due to size and weight of your belly. This makes it more difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. Health professionals recommend that you avoid sleeping on your right side because the baby is resting on the main artery to your heart. What can help you get better sleep is getting a body pillow and use a heating pad to relax. Also, try some deep breathing to help you relax! If you are still feeling uncomfortable, make an appointment with a local physiotherapist, and perhaps they can help you address the discomfort.

2- Abdominal pain/skin stretching

The soft tissue and skin around our lower belly gets stretched towards the end of pregnancy and can feel itchy and uncomfortable.   Some women can experience a small tear between the 2 sides of the rectus abdominus muscle. This is a condition called diastasis recti. There are ways to help manage this condition after giving birth. Understanding the proper exercises to can help improve the strength of these muscles. Seeing a physiotherapist to learn the proper type of exercise and speed up healing.

3- Swelling in legs and feet/spider veins

Did you know that the volume of a woman’s blood increases by 50% during pregnancy? As the baby grows, our heart works harder and faster to give nutrients to the uterus. The growing uterus interferes with the return of blood from the legs and the pelvic area to the heart. As a result, swelling (edema) is common, especially in the legs. This is very common for most pregnant women and can even stay 6 weeks post-pregnancy. Your body takes time to recover, but elevating your feet or wearing elastic stockings can help move the extra fluid back to your heart. There are a few simple exercises that a physiotherapist can suggest to help you work on improving circulation.

4- Stress (exertional) incontinence

Stress incontinence is the loss of urine caused by increased pressure on the bladder. The sphincter does not function well to hold urine. Another cause of incontinence is an overactive bladder where there are incontrollable spasms which cause a frequency to use the washroom. After pregnancy, incontinence problems may continue because childbirth weakens the pelvic floor muscles. There are a series of pelvic floor and other core exercises that can help strengthen these muscles both during and after pregnancy.

5- Low back/hip pain

The hormones that get produced can affect the laxity of the ligaments around our low back, sacroiliac joints and hips. The joints and ligaments (fibrous cords and cartilage that connect bones) in the woman’s pelvis loosen and become more flexible. This change helps make room for the enlarging uterus and prepare the woman for delivery of the baby. As a result, the woman’s posture changes somewhat and can cause weakening of the core muscles. Avoiding heavy lifting, bending from the knees (not the waist) to pick things up, and maintaining good posture can help. Wearing flat shoes with good support or a lightweight maternity girdle may reduce strain on the back.

If you have any of the above issues or further pains, just know that it can be normal and you are not alone. There are health professionals available to help you along in your pregnancy journey and will make things a little easier for you. Give Bellefleur Physiotherapy a call at 613-424-7852, or email info@bellefleurphysio.com to book an assessment or for more information.

Happy pregnancy!

Jason Bellefleur
Jason Bellefleur is a multi-award-winning physiotherapist. Most recently, he was recognized as a 2016 Ottawa Forty Under 40 recipient and received numerous awards from the Orléans Chamber of Commerce (the 2011 Young Business Person of the Year, the 2012 Healthcare Professional of the Year and the 2014 Business Person of the Year awards). Jason is proud to be an Orléans resident and to raise his family in a bilingual community. He enthusiastically promotes local business within the Orléans area and frequently supports and participates in local events. Jason was recognized for his community involvement by receiving the Orleans 150 Community Builder award in 2017 by Ottawa-Orléans MPP Marie-France Lalonde. Jason firmly believes in high-quality one-on-one physiotherapy interventions. His treatment approach emphasizes hands-on intervention, continued client education, and active involvement by the individual to help them reach their full potential. By opening a clinic that offers 'Higher Standards of Care,' Jason wants his patients to feel confident that they receive the highest level of patient care available. As a result, he is also preventing injury and helping to improve their health and well-being.

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