Pregnancy, Pain and Physiotherapy

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

There are many physiological changes during pregnancy that allow your body to support a growing fetus. While many of these changes are common, and not pathological – meaning they will generally resolve after pregnancy - it does not mean they are not extremely uncomfortable or painful.

Due to these conditions arising as an expression of normal physiological changes to the body, they can prove difficult to resolve with treatment. However, there are still many ways we can provide relief and support during your pregnancy.

Let’s look first at why these issues may arise during pregnancy. Musculoskeletal changes will occur to allow a fetus to grow and have enough room to pass through the pelvis during birth. There is an increase in joint laxity – meaning more flexibility in joints – particularly in the pelvis.

Joints of the pelvis, symphysis pubis, sacroiliac and sacrococcygeal, all soften to allow the pelvis to widen. This is caused from hormones produced in pregnancy – and there is a correlation seen between these hormone levels and lower back or symphysis pain.

Images above: SRC pregnancy tights in action

What can I do to help my pregnancy pains?

Exercise before and during pregnancy is beneficial to provide support by strengthening abdominal and pelvic muscles – with exercise particularly helpful in in the second and third trimesters to reduce lower back as the baby’s weight as they grow. Physiotherapist-guided exercises programs are useful, as we can ensure that the exercises are done correctly and are the right types of exercises for you.

At home remedies include the use of girdle support braces, or pregnancy support tights – such as the SRC pregnancy tights mini’s that we stock in our clinic. Heat packs on the back are also particularly useful to help provide relief.

Physiotherapy is also useful to address issues and guide you through your pregnancy while maintaining a happy musculoskeletal system.

Images: Annie using Real-time ultrasound to access muscle function

Do I need physiotherapy to help my pain? What else can physiotherapy offer me during my pregnancy?

Physiotherapy during pregnancy is incredibly helpful to help manage pain and to aid in labour! During your appointment, we would assess how your body is physically handling pregnancy, to see if there are any areas we can focus on. This includes:

- Checking abdomen for abdominal separation, also known as diastasis recti

- Muscle tightness, particularly abdominal tightness due to stretching belly

- Other muscle strength regarding muscles used during labour

- Stiffness in joints

- Checking pelvis before birth, taking into consideration whether you are having a vaginal or caesarean section

- Postural awareness – as your baby grows, the weight will influence your posture

- Gentle stretches and prescription exercises may be given

- Hands on treatment to help work through stiffness

How does physiotherapy help with labour?!

During labour, midwives recommend moving around and a variety of different labouring positions. With physiotherapy, we can assess whether you may need any strengthening exercises – for example, a tricep dips and goblet squats will assist you in gaining strength for when you are in similar labouring positions. We can also show you different ways of using a gym ball that you may find useful during labour.

Check out our post on exercising during pregnancy next!

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