Having a bump on board causes huge physical and hormonal changes that effect every part of a woman’s body. Rachel Bromley, Nuffield Health Senior Physiotherapist and Clinical Specialist Lead for Women’s Health, shares her top tips to help prevent some of the most common pregnancy issues that can impact the body both before birth and postnatally.
- Stay symmetrical
“Pelvic discomfort (Pelvic Girdle Pain) and lower back pain are very common issues which affect many pregnant women. To help prevent pain in these areas, try to remain symmetrical so that additional weight from your developing bump is spread evenly and doesn’t put pressure on specific joints. Stand up straight to engage your stomach muscles, use two shopping bags instead of one and sit down to dress the lower half of your body rather than standing on one leg. It may take longer but your body will thank you.”
- Engage in gentle exercise
“Staying active can help to prevent ailments such as back pain during pregnancy. If you lead an active life then it is beneficial to continue to exercise, within your own limits, into your pregnancy. If you are new to exercise, consult your GP before you start. Gentle activities, such as swimming or walking, can help you to keep fit and active during your pregnancy.”
- Spread the load
“As your bump gets bigger try to spread your work or home activities out across the day, and allow plenty of rest time in between. If you’re out of the house for long periods of time, stop off at a coffee shop or relax in a nearby park to take the pressure off your back and pelvis.”
- (Don’t) do the twist
“Over-stretching and twisting can place unnecessary pressure on the body which can lead to discomfort, especially during the latter stages of pregnancy and after delivery. Try to plan ahead and arrange items so that you’re not straining to reach them. For example, moving plates to a lower shelf in the kitchen, adapting your work station to accommodate your growing bump and making sure that everything you need to change baby’s nappy can be reached without having to lean or bend too much.”
- Watch the toddlers!
“If you already have young children then avoid lifting them as much as possible to prevent putting pressure on your back, pelvis and joints. Try not to carry them on one hip and, if they are mobile, encourage them to climb into their own car seat or up onto the sofa with you if they want a hug. At bath time, kneel down by the side of the bath rather than bending over it to avoid over-stretching and twisting.”
- Practice your pelvic floor exercises
“A well-functioning pelvic floor is very important both before and after delivery and regular pelvic floor exercises play an important part in helping your body to recover after pregnancy and birth. If you’re not sure what you should be doing, consult a specialist women’s health physiotherapist who can provide one-to-one help and advice.”
- Carry out front
“Moving a new born baby about is no easy task! Carry your baby on your front so that the weight is evenly balanced and you’re not putting pressure on one side of your body. Try to limit the amount of time you spend carrying a car seat or change bag and regularly switch arms. Give yourself plenty of space to secure the car seat and move around the vehicle rather than leaning and twisting which can cause discomfort.”
- Seek help:
“It is normal for the body to change during pregnancy and after having a baby. However, if you are experiencing issues, such as pain or bladder weakness, which impact your personal wellbeing, you should seek help as early as you can. These issues are common, but should never be considered normal and can be corrected through a personalised exercise or physiotherapy programme.”
To find out more about physiotherapy at Nuffield Health, please visit www.nuffieldhealth.com/physiotherapy. Nuffield Health provides quick access to treatment, without the need for a GP referral.