Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy
As a specialist in pelvic health in North Carolina, Dr. Grace offers a range of services for pregnant women. These services should be considered complementary to the care offered by your midwife or OB/GYN during your pregnancy.
Keep in mind that the primary focus of your doctor is to keep you and your baby healthy during your pregnancy. If you are experiencing pain and discomfort however, a physical therapist might be more suited to help you deal with those issues.
How Physical Therapy Can Help
A visit to a trained pelvic physical therapist can help you deal with musculoskeletal problems, including pelvic pain, joint pain and lower back pain. In many cases, this pain is related to the changes occurring in the body during pregnancy.
According to surveys, almost 50 percent of pregnant women experience pelvic, hip or low back pain during their pregnancy. In 8 percent of cases, the pain is so severe that it becomes debilitating. Women who don’t address pain during pregnancy might continue to have pain after delivery.
Pregnancy symptoms that can be addressed with physical therapy:
- Lower back pain, especially during the third trimester. Low back pain is a serious problem during pregnancy, affecting up to 60 percent of pregnant women. The pain can sometimes become chronic or debilitating
- Pain in the SI joint, coccyx(tailbone) or pelvis area
- Hip and sciatic pain and discomfort
- Urine leakage or urinary urgency
Preparing the Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvic floor muscles play a key role during childbirth. In order for the baby to pass through effectively, the muscles must relax. Some women have difficulty with coordination of the pelvic floor muscles and actually contract the muscles when they are trying to relax them. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help you learn to gain control over these muscles in order to contract and relax them at the appropriate time. Additionally, biofeedback can be used to help you identify which birthing positions are most helpful for you in completely relaxing your muscles.
Problems can also occur if pelvic floor muscles are weak. Because these muscles support the uterus, bowel and bladder, weak muscles can lead to many problems during pregnancy or after delivery, such as fecal or urinary incontinence, pain or organ prolapse (when the uterus actually slips down into the vagina).
A good way to train your pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy is to do Kegel exercises. Kegel or pelvic floor muscle exercises are done by contracting the muscles of the vagina. Although this seems simple, surveys show that many women (up to 50%!) don’t do the contractions properly, so they don’t get benefits from the all the repetitions they are doing!
The best way to learn how to do Kegel exercises properly is to seek the assistance of a pelvic floor physical therapist, who can guide you through the repetitions at first to ensure you are performing them correctly.
Strong pelvic muscles make childbirth easier, so the early you start practicing them, the better the results. If you are suffering from pain, discomfort or urinary incontinence, these exercises will also help control those symptoms and make your pregnancy more comfortable.
What Dr. Erika Grace Can Do For You
Dr. Erika Grace is an expert in pregnancy and postpartum care and the issues that affect women during this important time in their lives. She believes that pregnancy should be a time to be enjoyed, which is why she places so much importance in the treatment of issues that might be depriving you of that enjoyment.