Appropriate exercise during pregnancy has many fantastic benefits, including:
- Preventing and managing pregnancy related conditions such as low back pain, pelvic girdle pain, incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse;
- Preparing yourself for labour and childbirth;
- Maintaining good baseline fitness to enhance recovery after the birth; and
- Preparing you for the physical challenges of life with a newborn!
However, throughout pregnancy the mother’s body undergoes numerous changes that can make participating in physical activity challenging. These can include:
- Increased ligament laxity leading to less stable joints and possibly subsequent pain, dysfunction or injury;
- Changes in muscle length to accommodate the growing baby, leading to altered muscle function;
- Diastasis of the rectus abdominus (separation of the stomach muscles)
- Increased pelvic floor loads; and
- Reduced energy levels and cardio-vascular capacity.
As such, it is usually necessary to modify your pregnancy exercise program to accommodate these physical changes and allow you to continue to exercise safely and optimally throughout your pregnancy. These changes may include:
- Modifying training loads (intensity and frequency of exercise);
- Reducing high impact exercise as ligament laxity and pelvic floor loads increase;
- Transitioning to deep abdominal stabilisation exercises instead of crunches, sit-ups etc to reduce the risk of ongoing rectus abdominus diastasis (stomach muscle separation) after giving birth; and
- Introduction of specific, targeted exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, deep abdominals and pelvic stabilisers.
As every woman and every pregnancy is unique, these changes are best made in consultation with your women’s health physiotherapist. This will ensure the exercise program is appropriate for you and your stage of pregnancy, enabling you to enjoy an active pregnancy and all the benefits this will reward you with.
Our women’s health physio team, Tanya and Meredith, all specialise in exercise and can assist you with planning and implementing your pregnancy exercise program. They can also address any post-natal exercise concerns you may have.
Please call Capital Clinic Physiotherapy on (02) 6257 8900 if you would like an appointment.