3 Changes to the Musculoskeletal System During Pregnancy and After Birth
Pregnancy can put a lot of pressure on the body and there’s limited time to recover once your little bundle of joy arrives. We’re so consumed with concern for our babies we often forget to take care of ourselves.
Simon from Super Fit, a physiotherapist and personal trainer, applies experiential expertise as well as evidence-based practice to help mum’s bodies avoid long and short-term injury. Super Fit physiotherapy and personal training packages can be tailored to suit your pre and post-natal needs. EEK members can enjoy a 15% discount on Physiotherapy and Personal Training sessions.
There are three changes to the musculoskeletal system during pregnancy and after birth. We know finding time for your fitness can all be quite daunting but taking care of you is important too. The changes your body goes through can take years to bounce back from if your body is not supported with pre and post natal fitness.
The image of passing a watermelon through the vaginal passage is incredibly fear enhancing, isn’t it? The great thing is mother’s bodies know just what to do. Joints that hold the pelvis firmly in place with powerful muscular activity and strong ligaments are softened by hormones to prepare for the birth of your baby. This causes the pelvis to flare during birth allowing the passage of the baby’s head. The ligaments regain their stiffness slowly post-birth but this loss of stiffness can cause problems such as low back pain both during pregnancy and after giving birth.
Making exercise part of a weekly routine during pregnancy will help support the musculoskeletal changes taking place. If you are overweight and planning a child, a weight loss programme could help to reduce the strain on your back and joints. Simon recommends remaining active for as long as possible during pregnancy as most exercise is not contraindicated. While contact sports like kickboxing should clearly be avoided, guided weight lifting and cardio can ensure you have the strength to meet the demands of pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
During pregnancy and particularly during birth, the pelvic floor muscles (forming the muscular sling underneath the pelvis controlling the activity in the urinary and anal sphincters, the vaginal wall and the vulva), become stretched and sometimes torn. This can lead to problems with pelvic stability, strength, sexual function and, most embarrassingly, incontinence.
To avoid this it is important, when pregnant, to perform pelvic floor muscle exercises weekly. These can be done in many ways but to get a good feeling of which muscles to use, practise shutting off the stream of urine when peeing and then re-starting. A contraction of the pelvic floor muscles should feel like a tightening lift. Perform these in sets like you would a weight training drill at the gym for example 15 repetitions x 4 sets holding each repetition for 5 seconds.
The rectus abdominus, the 6-pack muscle, will also become stretched during pregnancy. This can cause the central connective tissue band that runs right down the middle of the abdomen to separate. This is called diastasis recti, which may persist post-birth causing a loss of abdominal strength.
To maintain your core while pregnant, you can perform squats and sit-ups (modified sit-ups after week 16) weekly. If you are not used to such exercises start with a small amount and build up but work with repetitions and sets as described above for pelvic floor exercises.
Post Natal Fitness
It’s important to seek professional advice after the birth of your baby before re-starting exercise especially involving the abdominals. The earlier you start, the greater chances your body can recover quickly. As a professional physiotherapist, Simon from Super Fit can help you to safely look after your recovery while strengthening you to carry on with the sometimes superhuman demands of motherhood.
Contact: Simon 07377 684 450 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Quote: EEK at time of booking for 15% off Super Fit Classes.