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  • Writer's picturePhysical Therapy International Service

Pregnancy & Postpartum Health

The following blog is written by Dr. Leigh Welsh, a PTIS member and licensed physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health.


Common Issues during Pregnancy & Postpartum

If you're feeling any of the symptoms below or have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, physical therapy can help you feel better, move more easily, prepare or recover from childbirth, and improve your overall pelvic health & physical wellbeing.


Back Pain & Pelvic Pain

  • Often in the low back, SI joints, or pubic symphysis (at the front of the pelvis)

  • Pain often with bending, lifting, getting out of bed or the car, putting on pants, walking, or climbing stairs

Bladder Dysfunction

  • Urgency and/or frequency (going more than every 3 hours)

  • Leaking urine (when you cough, sneeze, laugh, jump or can't make it in time)

  • Difficulty emptying or incomplete emptying (dribbling after)

Bowel Dysfunction

  • Constipation & hemorrhoids

  • Difficulty emptying or incomplete emptying

  • Leaking stool or difficulty controlling gas

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

  • Heaviness, pressure, or bulging in the pelvis - feeling like something is falling out of your vagina

  • Decreased support of the bladder, uterus, or rectum

Diastasis Rectus Abdominis ("Ab Separation")

  • Excessive stretch of the tissue ("linea alba") down the midline of the abdomen that creates a widening between your 6-pack muscles

  • 100% normal at full term, persists for about 1/3 at 1 year postpartum

  • Abdominal weakness can make daily tasks more difficult

Painful Sex

  • May be related to scar tissue after delivery

  • Changes involving hormones, body image, relationship dynamics, fatigue, etc. can all contribute


Exercise During Pregnancy


Benefits

  • Decreases back & pelvic pain

  • Decreases your risk of gestational diabetes & preeclampsia

  • Decreases your risk of labor/delivery complications, including cesarean delivery

  • Decreases duration of labor

  • Helps constipation

  • Promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy

  • May help you lose weight more easily after birth

  • Can help you better manage labor

  • Improves your mood & energy levels

  • Can improve your sleep

  • Help you prepare for the demands of childcare

Recommendations

  • 150-minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (you're able to hold a conversation) such as brisk walking or stationary biking

  • This can be 30-min 5x/week or multiple 10-min bouts over the week

  • If exercise is new for you, start slow with 5-10 min/week & gradually build up

  • Stay well hydrated, avoid hot/humid conditions, and wear loose fitting clothing to avoid overheating

  • Avoid exercises lying on your back while pregnant

  • Supportive sports bras & pregnancy belts can help with comfort while exercising


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