Changes To The Body During Pregnancy And After Delivery
Pregnancy has many effects on a woman’s body physically. These changes occur to support the growth of the baby, but some of these changes can have negative consequences on the mother’s musculoskeletal system. The changes in hormone levels can cause ligament laxity, which allows for more movement in the joints compared to pre-pregnancy. This change is necessary for the birthing process, but can lead to joint pain. The weight and positioning of the abdomen during pregnancy lowers the woman’s center of mass and puts more stress on the low back. Typically, low back pain or sacroiliac joint pain are common complaints during pregnancy.
Post-partum, these changes can still lead to potential musculoskeletal concerns. First of all, the abdominals have been stretched to accommodate the size of the baby. The abdominal muscles are an important part of your “core” muscles and provide stabilization to your low back, and play a major role in balance. If the baby is delivered via c-section, the abdominals have been further weakened due to the need to cut through the abdominal musculature to deliver the baby. Weak abdominals increase the risk of low back pain, changes in balance and difficulty with daily activities.
If the baby is born via vaginal delivery, the pelvic floor muscles are stretch three times their size during delivery. As a result, these muscles can become weak. Having strong pelvic floor muscles not only helps to prevent incontinence, it is also the bottom portion of your core.
If you are having pain during pregnancy or post-partum is it important to talk to your doctor about your concerns. A physical therapist can help by choosing exercises that are appropriate for you to perform while pregnant or after delivery once you are cleared by your doctor to begin exercise.