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Physiotherapy During Pregnancy and Beyond abdominal cavity


Physiotherapy During Pregnancy and Beyond abdominal cavity

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                and Beyond
                Words by
                Deborah Fernandes

                                 hartered physiotherapists
                                 in women’s health are
                                 specialists involved in
                                 successfully diagnosing
                                 and treating women
                presenting with various conditions within
                the expertise of a physiotherapist.
                   During pregnancy, the body undergoes
                a variety of changes in the muscular,
                skeletal and vascular system.
                   Pregnancy related problems may vary
                from lower back pain, pelvic girdle pain,
                fluid retention, incontinence during
                pregnancy and following child birth.         build up of muscle tension and nerve             This strain and stress is usually felt at
                                                             irritation therefore resulting in back pain.   your pubic symphysis as this is where
                MUSCULAR                                        You may also feel lower abdominal           the weight of the baby is transferred.
                During the first trimester, the uterus is     discomfort as the abdominal wall and           Some women may also experience
                still within the pelvic cavity. From the     uterus are stretching, causing strain          discomfort at the sacroiliac joint.
                second and third trimester, the uterus       in ligaments that are supporting
                moves into the abdominal cavity. This        the weight of the uterus.                      INCONTINENCE
                alters your centre of gravity, making                                                       The pelvic floor muscles are like a sling
                you feel your pelvis is drawn into a         PELVIC GIRDLE PAIN                             supporting the pelvic and abdominal
                forward tilt, altering your posture.         This condition has become increasingly         organs. Incontinence and organ
                   Furthermore, your abdominal muscles       common amongst women in pregnancy.             prolapse may occur if the pelvic floor
                are being stretched. Normally the            During pregnancy, your body releases a         muscles are too weak to support the
                abdominal muscles work as a corset that      hormone called ‘relaxin’. This hormone         pelvic organs. As the pressure of the
                protects your lower back. As a result of     causes ligament laxity around the joints       growing uterus increases, stress from
                your pelvis tilting forward, your lumbar     of the body. This laxity creates abnormal      the pelvic floor muscles can reflect pain
                spine becomes strained. This causes a        movement in some joints of your body.          on the lower back and hip joints.

                20 MODERNMUM Winter 2008

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                                                                                                          classes throughout your pregnancy
                                                                                                          and postnatal period.
                                                                                                              These informational classes cover
                                                                                                          a variety of topics such as stages of
                                                                                                          labour and coping skills, specific
                                                                                                          exercises to prevent back pain, pelvic
                                                                                                          pain and incontinence, breathing
                                                                                                          and relaxation techniques, effective
                                                                                                          positioning for labour and partner’s
                                                                                                          support. The educational support that
                                                                                                          the physiotherapist provides through the
                                                                                                          antenatal and postnatal classes ensures

                                                                   Manual lymphatic                       that you feel more empowered and
                                                                                                          confident in your new role as a mother.
                Fluid retention is a normal part of             drainage is a technique                       Women’s health physiotherapists
                pregnancy that is caused by hormonal           used by physiotherapists                   also have an input in postnatal care.
                changes and additional blood and                                                          Physiotherapy can help you get
                fluid. Swelling can be experienced
                                                               to help alleviate general                  your back and abdominal muscles
                in the legs, ankles, feet, hands and              swelling, especially                    into shape. It will also ensure that
                face. However, always consult your             around legs and ankles.                    you work the pelvic floor muscles
                doctor if you notice that this swelling is                                                efficiently to prevent incontinence.
                sudden as it may be related to a serious                                                      All the above discussed can be common
                condition called pre-eclampsia.               HOW CAN A                                   conditions experienced during pregnancy.
                   Manual lymphatic drainage is a             PHYSIOTHERAPIST HELP                        If you are experiencing similar discomforts,
                technique used by physiotherapists to         YOU COPE WITH THESE                         it is advised to seek professional opinion.
                help alleviate general swelling, especially   PREGNANCY-RELATED                               It is very important to note that you
                around legs and ankles. It also boosts        DISCOMFORTS?                                do not have to wait until the baby is
                the immune system and promotes deep              It is important you seek advice          born to deal with these issues. Rather,
                relaxation improving the quality of sleep.    from a chartered physiotherapist            the sooner your signs and symptoms
                   Other pregnancy-related ailments,          specialised in women’s health.              are treated the better the outcome is.
                such as carpal tunnel syndrome; a                Following a detailed consultation, a     Addressing pregnancy-related problems
                condition where your wrists may become        treatment plan will aim to treat, prevent   the minute they start will allow you to
                sore and swollen and you may feel a           and manage your signs and symptoms.         enjoy your pregnancy and develop new
                tingling sensation along your arms,              Conditions such as irritation of         coping skills to prevent re-occurrences.
                this can also be treated by manual            the sciatic nerve (Pseudo-Sciatic)          As always, prevention is better than cure,
                therapy techniques including manual           back and pelvic girdle pain can be          and physiotherapists hold an important
                lymphatic drainage. These techniques          improved by manual therapy, trigger         role in prenatal and postnatal health. 
                will help reduce the fluid and release         point therapy and specific exercises.            For more information on U Mamma
                the tension around your arms.                    Women’s health physiotherapists          Physiotherapy, please call:
                                                              are also qualified to give educational       01 2014900 or visit:

                                                                                                                          Winter 2008 MODERNMUM 21

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