Mother and her child doing exercises outside

Women's health

Physiotherapy during pregnancy and beyond

Written 23/3/2022 by Emma Elstead

"Many women suffer with musculoskeletal pain in pregnancy and during the post-natal period. They assume they are a normal and part of pregnancy, continuing with everyday life accepting the discomfort and pain. From my experience, a lack of knowledge that safe and effective treatment is available, or often embarrassment, prevent them from acting. Specialist physiotherapy treatment can help. And at all stages of a women’s life. Physio can significantly improve quality of life and help women flourish again.”

 

Emma Elstead, Head of Clinical Services at Simplyhealth

Why do many pregnant women experience pain?

 

During pregnancy, many changes occur to the body. In preparation for birth the body releases a hormone called relaxin, which causes the joints to become looser and more flexible. Women’s posture also changes to accommodate the growing baby. The lower back will gradually curve more as the pelvis tilts forward and as the baby grows the increased weight causes extra pressure through the pelvis.

Pelvic Girdle Pain

 

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) affects 1 in 5 pregnant and post-natal women. Pain and discomfort can be felt at the front and back of the pelvis and can occur at any stage in pregnancy or after the birth during the post-natal period.

 

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Pain when climbing the stairs
  • Pain when moving your legs apart i.e. getting out of the car
  • Discomfort when lying in certain positions

 

Physiotherapy can help in a number of ways:

  • Advice on positioning while performing daily activities
  • Exercise – to help strengthen and stabilise your pelvis
  • Manual therapy and soft tissue release – to help your pelvis to move correctly
  • Equipment- advice on support belts and walking aids if necessary

Bladder and Bowel control problems in pregnancy

 

Due to physiological changes occurring during pregnancy and the growing weight of the baby, pressure can be applied to the bladder, and the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, are required to work harder. Pelvic floor muscles attach all the way from your tailbone (coccyx) at the back, to your pubic bone at the front and also out towards the sitting bones within your bottom. They are the same kind of muscles that are found in your arms and legs which means that we can retrain them, but they have a more specialist job to do.

 

Physiotherapists can help to educate and advise women regarding specific pelvic floor exercises and ensure they are performing them correctly. Evidence shows that women who do pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy help to reduce long term problems.

How can Simplyhealth help?

 

Our health plans include video GP and video physiotherapy assessment services, to help you proactively take control of your health. We also offer money back towards private physiotherapy treatment, diagnostic appointments and scans so that you can physically see a professional should a video consultation not be sufficient, without worrying about all the costs.

Man about to have an online GP appointment

Related guide

A guide to women's health

Other articles around women's health, including menopause and pelvic health, written with the support of the Lady Garden Foundation.