Diastasis Recti and Pregnancy Prehabilitation
It is important to remain active and healthy throughout pregnancy and perform physical activities that are safe both for the parent’s body and the baby. A well-trained pelvic health physiotherapist can guide you through movements, exercises, and breathing patterns to help minimize the stress placed on the abdominals and pelvic floor during pregnancy. This can mean less discomfort, improved healing of the natural abdominal separation that occurs during pregnancy, and a safe return to functional activities, exercise, and sport.
There are a variety of gentle manual therapy techniques, which help to provide mobility to the muscles and fascia of the growing abdomen during pregnancy, which are in the physiotherapist’s treatment tool kit. In late pregnancy the focus of physiotherapy care often shifts to stretches to relax the hips and pelvis and strategies to relax the pelvic floor in order to minimize pain and tearing upon delivery. A Pelvic therapist is a helpful resource to teach positions of labour and to empower you to feel physically prepared for delivery day.
Following labour and delivery, the first 12 weeks are an essential time for abdominal and pelvic floor healing. Your physiotherapist can provide you with exercises for the very early post-partum period, and guide you through progressive abdominal rehabilitation.
Often individuals are unaware of the role a physiotherapist can play throughout the 40 or so weeks of pregnancy and do not seek care until they notice pelvic floor dysfunction or doming of the abdominals caused by residual abdominal separation (termed diastasis rectus abdominus). Post-partum care provides assessment of the muscles of the pelvic floor, scar mobilization, breathing and muscle recruitment strategies, postural tips for breastfeeding, baby wearing, and lifting, as well as guidelines for safe return to impact exercise. Pelvic physiotherapy is valuable for both cesarean and vaginal deliveries, especially when interventions such as an episiotomy, vacuum, or forceps are involved.
When a new parent is in her optimal state of physical health it contributes to her emotional and social health, as well as her ability to care for her new baby. Empower yourself or someone you care about to include physiotherapy into pregnancy prehabilitation and rehabilitation.