Going through a first time pregnancy at the same time I have been transitioning to bringing my orthopedic experience into the pelvic health world has helped immensely with my birth prep experience. I know it will greatly benefit me in my postpartum recovery as well.
Unfortunately, I hear so often from pelvic floor -- and my general orthopedic patients-- how little they knew about their bodies and the process of pregnancy prior to or during. Improving this knowledge and allowing for moms to be better informed about their own care leads to better outcomes for both mom and baby.
So what have I done to help make these last 9 months easier and help prepare for delivery?
Prioritizing self-care: Pregnancy can be a hard time mentally for a lot of moms (myself included). I have prioritized regular meetings with my therapist, specifically talking through different anxieties and pieces of pregnancy, which was so helpful. Not every part of pregnancy is positive or enjoyable and having a place to talk those things out has helped spark conversations with my partner and friends/family for how to better support me through pregnancy and delivery. Other great supports for me during this time include decreasing my true crime intake and getting back into reading/listening to audiobooks, puzzling, and regular baths.
Staying active: Maintaining or starting some sort of movement practice during pregnancy is a great way to take care of your body and your brain at the same time. This will look different at various stages of your pregnancy based on how your body is responding to the demands you are asking of it. Prioritizing movement and incorporating multiple muscle groups at the same time, can decrease the amount of time needed to get a great and safe workout in. I am so fortunate to work in a setting where I have access to a gym space and am able to get quick and efficient workouts in; or focus on specific mobility/breathing exercises throughout the day.
Decreasing work demands: My bosses and colleagues have been extremely supportive during this process and have done so much to help keep me in the clinic while feeling good for as long as possible. My job is fairly physically demanding, so, decreasing the number of patients I see in a day and the amount of hours I spend on my feet daily, has helped keep aches and pains down. This is a huge benefit that I know not everybody has, but cutting out some amount of stress, or asking for help with some life demands, can help allow mom-to-be to have more room in her day to take care of herself (and thereby baby).
Breathwork and specific exercises: I historically have chronic pelvic floor tension that I have been working hard to keep down during pregnancy to allow for easier delivery and decreased pain. I have been using a combination of resources (such as Spinning Babies Daily Essential movements) from my birth prep course from MamasteFit, and stretches/breathing exercises I prescribe to my own patients. All of which have provided great results with low levels of pain throughout these last -- almost-- 40 weeks. When needed, I saw another pelvic floor therapist and adding in some specific manual therapy techniques was also very helpful for me.
The education I have gained over the last 9 months professionally and personally will help so much in my postpartum recovery, stay tuned for future posts on things to look for/recommendations for postpartum pelvic floor healing and return to exercise!
Tanner Hampton PT, DPT