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Pre- and Postnatal Conditions Physiotherapy: Symptoms & Treatment

Prenatal and postnatal conditions are common among women, causing physical and emotional changes that can impact their daily lives. Physiotherapy interventions, including exercise, education, and manual therapy, can effectively address these conditions and improve women's quality of life during and after pregnancy.

The female body goes through a lot of changes throughout pregnancy and post-childbirth. During pregnancy hormones are released that increase the elasticity of ligaments, allowing them to stretch out further in order to allow for space during the pregnancy for the birth. There is also a growing amount of weight pulling forward on the lower back, putting stress on the joints and soft tissues throughout the back, pelvis and hips.

After childbirth, it can take some time to recover from the birth and also allow your ligaments, muscles and joints to settle into what will likely be a new post-natal position. Some muscles may have trouble learning to activate again. Many common conditions can become even more common in prenatal and postnatal women.

Some of these conditions are:

  • Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
  • Sciatica
  • Low Back Pain

Please see these sections for more information on these conditions.  Diastasis Recti and Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction are two other conditions that are most common during pregnancy and these conditions will be discussed here. Any of these conditions can be caused by some of the same causes as are common in the general population. However, the underlying cause is typically the changes the body goes through while prenatal and postnatal.

In the case of any pain, discomfort or concern either pre- or postnatal, your pelvic floor physiotherapist can do a thorough assessment to determine what is causing your pain or problem and how best to treat it.

Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction

The Pubic Symphysis is the cartilaginous joint that holds the two halves of the pelvis together in the front.  Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction, most common during pregnancy, is a condition where the ligaments that normally hold the pelvic bones aligned become too relaxed and allow for poor alignment or mobility in this joint.  The instability can cause pelvic pain either right at the front of the pelvis or in surrounding areas due to muscle tension or referral of pain.  Pain can worsen when doing unilateral weight bearing activities such as walking, using the stairs, getting into and out of vehicles, rising from seated positions or even rolling over in bed.

Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti is a condition where the linea alba, which is the connective tissue between the two sides of your abdominal muscles, separates.  It typically occurs due to excessive weight gain and is most common in pregnancy as the belly size increases dramatically, separating the abdominal muscles to make room for the baby.  There is not much you can do to prevent this during pregnancy, other than maintaining good pelvic floor strength, but avoiding sit ups and crunches. After birth, there is a great deal of strengthening that can be done to correct the problem.  However, just returning to abdominal exercises like crunches and sit ups can actually make things worse.  There will be a specific order to your progression back to normal exercises.   

There is no time during your pregnancy or after your birth that is unsafe to consult a Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist for help. All assessment and treatment will be able to take place in a standing, sitting, elevated back lying or side lying position. Your therapist will always ensure your comfort first. They will be looking for objective information such as your alignment, mobility, functional movement and muscle tension. They will then provide hands-on treatment to correct any problems they are finding as well as an exercise program that will address both muscle activation/strength, stability and stretching or self-treating tight muscles.  During pregnancy, the exercises will be aimed at allowing for the most comfortable pregnancy and easiest childbirth. Postnatal, the exercises will be aimed re-activating muscles that have been unable to activate or dysfunctional, including muscles of the deep core, pelvic floor and gluts. The goal will be to restore your normal function as quickly as possibly and allow you take care of your baby and to return to your favourite activities when able.

As with all injuries, this information is simply a guide, and it is always best to check in with a Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist to have a personalized assessment and hear recommendations for what you and your body may specifically need. If your pregnancy is high risk, you may also wish to consult with a doctor before beginning any form of treatment.  Your Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist can let you know if they have any concerns that they prefer to talk to your doctor about before treatment.

Contact Us For Help

Inertia Physio+ offers Kanata and Stittsville exceptional Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy and Registered Massage Therapy with private treatment rooms, one on one care, a maximum of two patients per hour and treatment focused on the evidence-based practices of manual and exercise therapy. Don’t suffer any longer.  If you have pain or injury, our Kanata and Stittsville Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy, and Registered Massage Therapy team is here to help you get back to living pain-free life and activities.  Please reach out to us at (613) 672-2200 or for an appointment today! You are also welcome to book online. We also offer direct billing on Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy services whenever your plan allows.


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