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Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation

Pre-Natal Physiotherapy

Pre-Natal Physiotherapy

What is Pre-Natal Physiotherapy?

During pregnancy your body experiences dramatic physiological changes. These are natural changes, but they may have a significant impact on the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments as they become softer, allowing your baby to grow and your body to change. 

Your center of gravity will change as the hollow in your back increases, breasts enlarge, and your overall weight increases.  Your abdominal muscles become stretched decreasing their ability to contract and keep your lower back in proper alignment.  Your pelvic floor muscles become strained with the increasing weight of the baby. Everyday tasks such as sitting, walking, standing, and working can become difficult when pregnant.

Almost all women experience some musculoskeletal discomfort during pregnancy, and as many as 25% of all pregnant women experience debilitating pain. Up to 70% of pregnant women also experience stress urinary incontinence.

Even if you are not experiencing any discomfort or issues, prenatal physiotherapy can help prepare your body and train the muscles and supporting tissues for the birthing process.

Common Pregnancy Related Complaints:

  • Swelling secondary to increases in blood volume and decreased abdominal circulation
  • Foot pain due to ligament laxity and decreased arches
  • Low back, sciatic, tailbone, pubic bone, or pelvic girdle pain
  • Neck pain and headaches due to changes in posture and alignment
  • Arm pain or tingling caused by nerve compression associated with an increased chest diameter and postural changes
  • Urine leakage due to strained pelvic muscles
  • Varicose veins involving the vulva

How Can Donna Sarna Physiotherapy Help?

Pelvic floor physiotherapy during pregnancy can help to reduce pain and discomfort related to the growth of the baby.  Perineal massage, release of muscle and fascia, and pelvic floor training may help optimize delivery and prevent perineal tearing and other postpartum dysfunctions.

At Donna Sarna Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation, a prenatal assessment is a two-part process. The first appointment will include a detailed history and an external evaluation. The physiotherapist will examine posture, breathing, range of motion , and the muscles, fascia, and nerves, focusing on the low back, hips, pelvis and abdomen. They will also check for abdominal separation or diastasis recti. The second appointment will include an internal examination, which includes evaluation of the vagina and possibly the anus, perineal body, skin, and connective tissue in the genital and surrounding area. The pelvic floor muscles are tested for muscle tone or tightness, strength, endurance, trigger points, and tissue integrity. The position of the pelvic organs are also evaluated to determine if there is any organ prolapse. You are always welcome to have a trusted individual present during assessment or treatment.

The internal examination and treatment is not performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, external evaluation and treatment may still be utilized to address any issues in the early stages.

An individualized treatment plan is developed based on assessment findings.  Treatment may include education regarding posture, a global strengthening program, relaxation and stretching exercises, pelvic floor exercises, myofascial release, and manual therapy or mobilization techniques to address any tight or restricted joints or muscles.

Perineal massage may also be included in your prenatal care.  Preparation through pelvic floor physiotherapy before delivery will contribute to more flexible and pliable pelvic floor muscles and tissues at the opening of the vagina.  This aids in reducing soft tissue injury during delivery. An added benefit of perineal massage is that it familiarizes a woman with the sensation of stretching through this area so that it is easier to relax during the birthing process.