Physiotherapy and Pregnancy
Dr. Manasi Anand

Dr. Manasi Anand

Jan 18Pregnancy and fertility

Physiotherapy and Pregnancy

This article has been compiled by Athira Krishnan who is a content writer at Proactive For Her.(https://www.instagram.com/thira_kk/ )

 

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a science that focuses on movement and helps people to restore, maintain and maximize their physical strength, function, and motion.

Depending on the injury, Physiotherapists usually set two main goals for a patient - Short term goals that deal with helping the patient perform their own activities like switching positions while lying down, eating, etc, and Long term goals that allow the patient to sit up, stand and start walking.

What can I expect at a physiotherapy session?

Your session will be unique to you as it caters to your particular physiological needs. In general, this is what generally happens-

  • The physiotherapist studies your past medical history
  • The physiotherapist assesses your current condition
  • You will receive a custom-made treatment plan with the goals listed out
  • You will be prescribed a set of exercises to adhere to

 

What happens to the mother’s body during pregnancy?

The mother undergoes several internal and external changes during pregnancy.

The body posture changes to accommodate the growing fetus, increasing the curvature of her back . The growing uterus, baby and the body supporting it will all contribute to weight gain. The breasts will grow and change to prepare for lactation, usually upto one to two cup sizes. The ligaments will be loosened and the muscles become lax. After pregnancy, the perennial muscles will be significantly lax. The body loses some if it’s previous muscle strength, making the body slightly weaker and susceptible to injury.

What are the exercises to be done in each trimester?

Each pregnancy is unique. It comes with its own positives and health risks. So what exercise worked for one expectant mother in her pregnancy, may not work for another. Always get your gynaecologist's clearance before you start workouts in pregnancy.

During the first, the mother can continue aerobic exercise at the same or slightly lower intensity. Mothers are advised to minimize excessive jumping and stretching of their torso and abdominal muscles or abs. If she hasn’t been exercising regularly previous to the pregnancy, it’s best to be physically active. Walking, stretching and swimming can be done to engage all the major muscle groups.

Expectant mothers should refrain from lifting weights over 25lbs or roughly 11kg.

In the second trimester, it is advised to cease any exercises that require the mother to lie on her back or her belly. Floor exercises that are done while lying on your side are recommended.

During the third trimester, mothers are advised to take up Lamaze classes where proper relaxation techniques and breathing patterns are taught to help during labor and build proper muscle tone. Medicine balls should also be used as sitting on it can strengthen the stomach and back muscles which in turn improves posture and further prepares the body for delivery. It also changes the position of the baby which may also relieve back pain.

How do the exercises differ based on the type of delivery?

In tertiary care hospitals, once a woman delivers her baby, the in-house physiotherapist is immediately notified. The physiotherapist then consults with each patient and depending on the type of birth, recommends a certain set of exercises to be done in progression. After birth, the core and perineal muscles are loosened and need to be strengthened to their prepartum tone and state.

For a C-section type delivery, the mother is asked to stay in the hospital for 3-4 days where exercises are given in gradual progression, starting from ones that can be done lying down to ones where the mother is able to carefully stand up and start walking. These have to be done in care to not risk the stitches being torn or stretched.

For a vaginal delivery, a series of exercises and correct postures are given to be followed at home. In both cases, the exercises have to be performed for the next 6 months to avoid any kind of risk.

After pregnancy, all the core and perineal muscles are loosened and need to be strengthened for proper holistic rehabilitation.

Why are these exercises advised?

Dr. Manasi advises to not overlook these exercises as women may find it hard to develop lost muscle and ligament strength. In some cases, the mother may experience weakness, back and neck pain that may persist for 1-2 months. If ignored beyond that point, that may last a while longer. Hence, it is advised to exercise in order to retrain your muscles.

The mindset surrounding physiotherapy and pregnancy

A large group of Indian women are still unaware of just how crucial physiotherapy is to bring the body back to its original state. If the Indian healthcare system is more proactive and holistic in its approach, it can help mothers for their long term recovery as well. In high-end hospitals, they have a strict protocol that refers an expert physiotherapist to the mother. Since the majority of the population in India lies in the lower class of the economic strata, the families are unaware of the care that has to be given to the mother too, and not just the baby. There is a growing need for awareness on this topic

To know more on the sexual and reproductive health of women, visit https://www.proactiveforher.com/

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for medical advice or treatment.