Pregnant? Give yourself a pre-birth MOT
Like the Duchess of Cambridge and Khloé Kardashian, you’re well into the third trimester. The horrors of morning sickness are a distant memory, it’s increasingly hard to see your own feet and baby unfailingly times his boxercise sessions for the middle of the night. It’s got to the point where you’re longing to meet him/her and dreading the birth in equal measure. So, what can you do during the last few weeks of your pregnancy to ensure that you’re in tip-top condition for when the all-important day arrives?
Expect the unexpected!
You’re all set for a natural delivery but what happens if things don’t go to plan and you become one of the 25 percent of mothers who have a caesarian section instead? Most C-sections are done because complications occur after labour starts and/or the baby becomes distressed. Every expectant mother needs to be prepared for the unexpected and it pays to discuss all options with your obstetrician well beforehand.
Regular gentle exercise has many benefits for pregnant mums and babies, helping them to:
- Cope with strains on joints and changes to posture;
- Experience a straightforward labour and birth with fewer complications;
- Maintain a healthy weight and get back into shape after the birth;
- Cope with low mood.
Think pelvic floor
The pelvic floor consists of a ring of muscles at the base of your pelvis (the area between the abdomen and the thighs) that support your bladder, vagina and anus. Extra pressure caused by the growing baby and relaxation of the ligaments – allowing the pelvic bones to open during the birth – thanks to the actions of the pregnancy hormone Relaxin, can cause the pelvic muscles to slacken. This increases the risk of stress incontinence (leaking urine when you sneeze, cough or exercise) throughout – and beyond – pregnancy.
Strengthening these muscles via regular pelvic floor exercises is the best way to avoid this. Try eight or ten pelvic floor squeezes, three times daily.
Rest, rest and more rest!
By this point you may not be sleeping so well thanks to frequent nocturnal dates with the bathroom and the distractions of a large, wriggly bump.
- Nap in the middle of the day or go to bed earlier.
- Backache? Lie on your side with your knees bent, placing a wedge-shaped pillow under your bump to help ease strain on your back.
- Gentle exercise can facilitate better sleep, although not too close to bedtime.
- Before bed, relax via stretching, yoga, deep breathing, massage and visualization.
If you need help
Aches and pains are common as the body changes to accommodate a growing baby. The release of Relaxin makes the body more vulnerable to strains arising from postural change, often causing discomfort in the lower back, neck, head, ribs and legs as well as shortness of breath and indigestion.
But pregnancy symptoms and strains can be treated in a gentle, safe and non-invasive way at all stages of pregnancy by an osteopath, maximising the body’s own ability to adapt efficiently to pregnancy-related changes. Osteopaths can help restore balance and movement to the whole pelvic area, facilitating the baby’s progress through the birth canal during labour. They also provide tailored advice on exercise and posture, both before and after the birth.
Here’s what one happy pregnant mum had to say: “I pulled my back at 34 weeks pregnant and was in agony. Acupuncture helped me really quickly to get back on my feet. I would recommend it (and Denise) to anyone.”
Click here to see what we can do to help you. Or here to book an appointment.