by: Heather Jeffcoat, DPT - Women's Health Physical Therapy, Los Angeles CA
During pregnancy, the focus is often on doing the right things to deliver a healthy newborn. But what do moms do during pregnancy to prevent and relieve pain and complications after the birth? The fact is that the way you support your body during pregnancy can have a surprisingly big impact on how the body recovers during post-pregnancy healing.
Pregnancy Problems That Trigger Post-Pregnancy Healing Pain & Complications
Back: The lumbar spine and associated muscles (the lower back) is a common source of discomfort for pregnant women. This is due, in part, to a shifting center of gravity that can drastically alter posture. As the belly pulls forward, it will create an exaggerated extension in the back (or lordosis), which will create short, tightened muscles in the lower back. Also, as the baby grows inside the uterus, the abdominal muscles become stretched and weakened, making it difficult for them to support the lower back. Compounding these changes, additional weight gain, which is a natural part of a healthy pregnancy, can exacerbate this pain, in fact, as many as 80% of all pregnant women suffer with back pain. Lower back pain can carry into labor and delivery, making an already tough task even more difficult.
Abdomen: Although the body’s entire core plays a role in bringing a baby into the world, one of the most important muscles is the transversus abdominis. This is the innermost abdominal muscle; imagine it as a natural corset, encircling the body. A growing baby belly strains the muscle, weakening it. This becomes a problem during labor when it can’t push effectively, and may lead to a potentially longer labor that is traumatic on both mom and baby. The rectus abdominus (or “six pack” muscle) also becomes over stretched and can become separated at the midline, creating a diastasis rectus.
Pelvic Floor: Another important , and often neglected muscle, is the pelvic floor. It is comprised of several muscles that support the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus and rectum. During pregnancy, weight gain puts extra pressure on the pelvic floor, making it weaker. What’s more, labor and delivery can further traumatize the area. The potential results of pelvic floor weakness are a laundry list of conditions most women don’t want to live with during post-pregnancy healing and beyond. This may include incontinence, pain, and pelvic floor prolapse, which is a condition in which an organ, like the bladder, slips down into the vagina.
Balance: During later pregnancy, our bodies are anything but graceful. We stumble. We waddle. Sometimes we fall. Why? Several factors, including pregnancy postural changes, muscle weakening, and that growing abdomen, change our center of gravity. Not only is poor balance an issue as we move through pregnancy, it may also create problems during labor, when good balance can do anything from alleviate back labor to hold an effective delivery position.
Support your body during pregnancy so you can recover faster during post-pregnancy healing.
One of the simplest and safest tools for reducing post-pregnancy problems is a properly designed maternity support, like the MotherLoad™ pregnancy support band. This is more than the elastic maternity belts or abdominal binders found in drugstores. This maternity band was designed by medical experts to shift baby weight off the abdomen, hips, and lower back and support the body’s core. The result is relief of the pressure that causes pregnancy-related musculoskeletal pain and discomfort.
Less pressure and strain during pregnancy means more power to push during labor and potentially fewer post-pregnancy healing problems, such as pelvic pain, continued lower back pain, and sore abdominal muscles.