Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life.
It’s also one of most physically strenuous, with numerous potential short and long term consequences for both body and mind.
In the information age, most women are well-versed on the importance of looking after their physical and mental health, and many have a broad network of medical professionals to keep them on track both pre and post birth.
While physiotherapists routinely visit maternity wards to complete a general examination, increasingly, they are joining the list of required therapists for individual women post-birth, thanks to growing awareness of the impact of pregnancy and birth on the pelvic floor. As a result of the weight (of the baby) placed on the pelvic floor during pregnancy, the muscles and tissues can become overstretched and weak, which can have consequences for bladder and bowel control, or even result in pro-lapse. When it comes to pelvic floor dysfunction, after a thorough assessment is best practice in determining a treatment plan.
These days, while more women understand the importance of pelvic floor care through physiotherapy, many remain unaware of the myriad other pregnancy and post-birth related conditions that can benefit from physiotherapy.
Women’s Health Physiotherapists can assist women to regain their function and return safely to pre-pregnancy exercise. Along with pelvic floor dysfunction and abdominal weakness and separation, physiotherapy can also assist with low back and pelvic girdle pain, as well as upper back and postural pain, all common following pregnancy and birth. Physiotherapy can also assist with hand and wrist pain due to tendinopathy.
Doctors now routinely refer to Physiotherapy for women’s health issues and this along with growing media interest has contributed to the acceptance of physiotherapy as an integral part of the recovery process following pregnancy.
During pregnancy the body goes through some dramatic changes over a short period of time and is changing again following birth. The more women understand what impact those physical changes have on the body, the better they can manage them.
Physios are experts in those changes and exercise. They focus not only on managing women’s health issues but also prevention.
But the benefits of physiotherapy to women’s health doesn’t end with pregnancy and birth. There are multiple women’s health problems that can be treated using physiotherapy that many people are not aware of, though this too is beginning to change. Physios can be treat internal pelvic pain such a vagisimus and dyspareunia.
The most common bladder condition treated by physiotherapy is stress urinary incontinence, but women’s health physios can also assist in other bladder conditions such as urge urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, other voiding dysfunctions and pelvic organ prolapse.
Physio is now the recommended first line of treatment for incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse prior to surgical intervention.