Pregnancy is a unique and fascinating time for the female body, with many physical, chemical and emotional changes.. .
Women will benefit from a good support team, including healthcare professionals to guide them through the life changing experience. These healthcare professionals should be able to answer questions that arise. Some of these questions are likely to be around discomfort that arises as the body changes, as well as exercise and safe levels of activity..
As the pregnancy progresses and the tummy grows, changes to the centre of gravity occur in the musculoskeletal system. There are also hormonal changes, which allow ligaments to become more lax. These two changes combined can cause discomfort in the tummy, where the ligaments get stretched. Similarly, the sacrum, gluteal muscles, low back, thighs and feet are common areas of pain and strain.
Many pregnant patients will benefit from simple solutions including pacing, stretching, application of heat and some gentle braces for support. Our chiropractor, Dr. Matt Bulman, has provided relief to many pregnant patients with gentle soft tissue techniques and mobilisations. He also teaches pelvic floor exercises, which are very useful in the treatment of incontinence, a sequela sometimes associated with giving birth.
Is exercise during pregnancy safe? A recent review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found:
In the absence of obstetric complications, the healthy pregnant body is able to cope with the physiological demands imposed by moderate exercise.
Moderate exercise is not a risk factor for fetal and maternal pregnancy outcomes.
A supervised programme of moderate exercise throughout pregnancy may be recommended by health professionals to attenuate the risk of pregnancy alterations.
Flinders University recommends women should aim for a healthy level of fitness rather than a peak level of fitness. 30 minutes of gentle aerobic exercise should be performed at a level where one is able to maintain a conversation; stretches and strengthening should be guided by a healthcare practitioner who can ensure the exercise is effective and safe..
Our chiropractor, Dr. Matthew Bulman, can help with prenatal exercises, teaching you appropriate, gentle stretches, as well as guidance through strengthening exercises for the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor series is crucial to help minimise complications, such as post-natal incontinence.. Cues for this exercise include:
- Squeeze and Lift: LIfting around the entire birth canal, front and back passages at once, lift up and inward as if trying to hold in wind and wee at once. Relax your tummy, buttocks, legs and hold your spine straight.
- Hold for 2-3 seconds and release. You should feel a definite relaxation and letting go of the muscles. Gradually increase to 6-10 seconds. Continue to breathe normally throughout this exercise.
- Aim to repeat this exercise as many times as you can, with the goal of achieving 8-10 contractions. Rest 5 seconds between contractions.
- Practice this exercise 3 times daily.
Some gentle stretches and exercises from the Flinder's University are below. Women with complications during their pregnancy should consult their midwife or doctor prior to commencing an exercise program. Should you wish to consult our chiropractor to inquire if he may be able to assist with relieving pregnancy related back pain, or if he can help you apply these exercises more specifically, please book online here.