Pregnancy can be a trying time for some, the body goes through much change, a lot of it completely unexpected. We asked Capital Physio’s thoughts on pregnancy aches and pains – from incontinence to leg cramps, they’ve got it all covered. 

While pregnancy is an incredibly exciting journey, it triggers many changes to your body and lifestyle which can leave you feeling confused about what is normal when it comes to aches and pains. Sorcha Callaghan, senior physiotherapist at Capital Physio has shared her top tips to help reduce discomfort during pregnancy. Capital Physio is a fast growing physiotherapy provider, quickly building a loyal customer base thanks to its focus on being friendly and approachable as well as professional.

Sorcha explains: “The first thing we ask all clients to do is to listen to their body during pregnancy, whether at home, at work or keeping fit.  Recognise what aggravates your pain and try to reduce or stop these activities. If you ever feel concerned or confused, book an appointment with a healthcare professional to put your mind at rest. As our top tips below explain, you are not alone in suffering with aches and pains during pregnancy and simple lifestyle changes can often reduce pain and discomfort.”

Keep fit and carry on!

It is important to maintain fitness levels throughout pregnancy, but also worth noting that we recommend avoiding any brand new exercise regime during the first trimester.  Gentle yoga is a great way to maintain length in your muscles, while pilates can help to strengthen the pelvic floor, abdominal and trunk muscles which will both manage and prevent back pain. Swimming and light walking are great ways to maintain cardiovascular fitness and endurance for labour, so your body is prepared for the task ahead.

Pelvic girdle pain

Lower back pain and pelvic girdle pain affect more than 50% of women during pregnancy, so many choose to ignore it but it’s important not to suffer in silence. If you are in pain when trying to carry out necessary daily tasks whether at work or home, then book a physiotherapy appointment. The issue will be explored and then a treatment plan put in place to reduce your pain and restore your function. It could include manual therapy, suggested exercises and also lifestyle advice. The great news is that this problem usually responds very well to treatment, but if left too long then it could remain an issue for up to two years.

Keep a balance

Avoid asymmetrical pelvis positions when sitting or standing.  For example, no cross legged sitting and no leaning more heavily on one leg, particularly when holding anything heavy such as car seats, bags and babies! On that note be careful when lifting heavy objects, ask for help where possible, or you risk additional strain in the lumbar spine and pelvic girdle which could increasing your pain levels.

Leg cramps

Many women suffer with leg cramps during pregnancy, particularly during the night. This issue should mostly stop once your little one has arrived, but there are lifestyle changes you can make during pregnancy to keep cramps at bay as much as possible. Try to rest lying down at least once a day, and make time for exercises such as light walking, ankle circles and calf pumps, which are all simple and useful ways to stave off leg cramps.  Regular calf and hamstring stretches twice daily will help to relax and lengthen the main muscle groups prone to cramping.

Pelvic floor training

Yes, you’ve heard it a million times before but we promise there’s a reason everyone talks so much about pelvic floor exercises! They really are vital before, during and after pregnancy to manage and prevent incontinence. These incredible muscles support the weight of your baby during pregnancy and will stretch during delivery, so they need to be re-trained afterwards. Healthy pelvic floor muscles can prevent pelvic girdle pain syndrome, bladder and bowel problems, organ prolapse and even restore sensation during sex.  So how should you exercise your pelvic floor? Alternate between lifting and squeezing these muscles ten times slowly with a ten second hold and fast squeezing without a hold.  If you have difficulty activating pelvic floor muscles a physiotherapy assessment can assist with this and put your mind at rest that you’re working the right muscles.

By Sorcha Callaghan, senior physiotherapist at Capital Physio.
Twitter: @capitalphysio