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Aaaaahhhh the joys of being pregnant! That mystical glow everyone tells you about! Those warm fuzzy feelings of joy and excitement as you feel your baby moving and growing…. A carefully selected and nutritionally balanced diet to supplement and nourish your tiny developing human… Your body has never felt better right?
As I approach my final weeks of pregnancy, I feel it is my duty as a Physiotherapist to talk you through some of the not so warm and fuzzy joys of pregnancy. The one’s that your Physiotherapist can help you out with to make your pregnancy experience more of a ‘glow’ and less of a ‘blow’……
- Muscle Cramps: Now this was one that nobody warned me about! A new level of pain that I can only imagine occurs to prepare your body for the impending painful trauma of childbirth….. If you have been woken in the middle of the night to experience the terror of your calf muscles trying to tear themselves free of your shin bone, then you will understand! It is thought these are most likely caused by a combination of fatigue and the effects of pregnancy hormone. But don’t despair – a number of things can help! Staying hydrated and taking Magnesium tables are top of the list. But your Physiotherapist can help too. Your Physiotherapist can use a combination of stretches, massage and dry needling to help alleviate muscle tension. The following is a handy calf stretch that you can do before going to bed:
- Pelvic Pain: As your little bundle grows you will find there is increasing pressure on your pelvis. Your body is also preparing for childbirth via the production of a hormone caused relaxin. This will cause your ligaments to increase their laxity and results in decreased stability around your pelvis. You may experience pain anywhere around you pelvis but in particular near the pubic symphysis or the sacro-iliac joint. Your Physiotherapist can assess your pelvis and make any adjustment if needed. They can also arrange a support belt if it is appropriate make you more stable and decrease the pain .
- Lower Back pain: The increasing bump on your front can often lead to an increased lumbar lordosis (or curvature of your lower back). Not only does this affect the biomechanics of your spine, it will also tilt your pelvis forward and can lead to tightness of your hip flexor muscles. The increasing load and changing spinal curvature often leads to lower back pain and in some cases, sciatic nerve pain. Your Physio can give you some exercises and stretches to counter this and will have a range of different treatment techniques they can use to help manage your pain.
- Exercise: Many pregnant women become quite anxious when it comes to exercise during pregnancy. In fact, there is a lot of evidence to support the many benefits of exercise during pregnancy for both you and your baby. The key is to do the right kind of exercise. The most important factor is exercise intensity. Particularly in your first trimester, your baby is unable to regulate body temperature which means you need to be careful of over heating. Heart rate monitoring is less accurate during pregnancy because of the changes in blood volume and blood pressure. The best measure is the talk test. As long as you can talk comfortably while exercising then you are unlikely to be over exerting yourself.
- The other thing to be aware of is the type of exercise. Low impact exercise such as swimming and gentle exercise bike are great – particularly if you are suffering with pain. Walking is also fantastic if you are not too sore. Pre natal pilates is something your Physiotherapist can help you with to maintain spinal mobility and work on your core and pelvic floor muscle strength. Finally don’t forget to train your pelvic floor! 10 reps of 10 second holds daily is the recommended amount. If you are not sure about your technique then check with your Physiotherapist beforehand.