By Amy Gildner
What is Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy is a holistic healthcare profession that aims to help those affected by injury, illness or disability. Physiotherapists specialize in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of a variety of neurological, orthopedic, and cardiorespiratory conditions. In Ontario, individuals can see physiotherapists without a doctor’s referral.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is the assessment and treatment of various conditions including, but not limited to, conditions of the muscles, bones, connective tissues, and ligaments surrounding the pelvis. This is a specialty within the physiotherapy profession, and is conducted by registered physiotherapists who have also undergone further education.
A typical initial appointment will include a detailed internal and external examination of your pelvis, a discussion of the findings as well as a possible treatment plan specifically tailored to your needs. This treatment may include additional internal pelvic floor therapy, bladder retraining, stretching, and strengthening techniques.
Why is Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy so important?
As women, our bodies can end up going through a lot. In addition to the maintenance of overall health and strength, pelvic floor health is equally as important, especially pre- & postpartum. Some conditions that can be treated through pelvic floor physiotherapy include:
- Vaginal pain
- Urinary incontinence
- Pain during sex
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Low back pain
- Sacroiliac pain
- Piriformis syndrome/sciatica
Contact the clinic to find out more information!
Recent news has made the disconcerting report that women often have misguided ideas about their caloric requirements during pregnancy.
The findings of numerous studies continue to prove that moms-to-be need to be careful about what they’re eating and avoid some dangerous behaviours like over-indulging their cravings. Why? Because what you eat can directly affect the development of your child, in both the fetal stage and infancy.
For example, research shows that women who eat a higher sugar diet may have bigger babies. The sugar consumption triggers the baby to produce more insulin, which in turn promotes growth.
The reason for this- and one of the key “takeaways” from this article- is the fact that everything in a mother’s diet has a collective impact on her child’s development. While medical science used to believe that the placenta could filter out unwanted or unneeded nutrients, we now know this isn’t the case. So when a pregnant woman chooses to eat things that are high in sugar and low in nutritional value, those decisions are also being made for her child. And when these decisions are made consistently, your baby’s body will react and develop accordingly. A poor prenatal diet can even affect the infant’s eventual likelihood of developing chronic disease.
The nutrients that babies feed on and physically process in the womb also help determine the types of cravings they’ll have in infancy, because the mother’s diet shapes her baby’s sensitivity and receptiveness to certain tastes. So skip the sugar and greasy, processed foods. Make it a strict habit to exercise dietary balance, high nutrient density, and moderation.
Yes, moderation. As the article points out, it’s important to understand what it means to be “eating for two.” This is a misleading expression because the volume of food you need to consume while pregnant is never going to double. In fact the view that pregnancy is a time to “let go” contributes to the problem of compromised fetal nutrition. When women eat empty calories, avoid exercise, and indulge repeatedly in high-sugar, high-sodium or high-fat food cravings, their pregnancy weight gain begins to exceed the targeted and healthy range of 25 to 35 pounds.
Of course pregnancies are subjective and body weight, nutritional needs, and gestational health concerns vary. However, understanding your personal needs is a good place to start. Consult Health Canada’s pregnancy weight gain guide, set up a diet plan based on your own cravings and aversions, and try to remind yourself that the right combination of nutrition knowledge and discipline could go a long way in keeping your child healthy.
When you find out you’re pregnant, you begin a mental checklist immediately. The list of things you could benefit from purchasing, eating and reading is endless. In spite of all of the advice and “to-do’s” available, there are a few smart investments and purchases that may be easier to overlook.
1. Orthotics: many pregnant women experience some common foot problems that may increase in severity over the course of their pregnancy. These include over-pronation, swelling and pain in the arch and heel. Weight gain puts a great deal of added stress on feet and orthotics are a smart investment to increase your comfort and health. As this awesome article “Pregnancy and Your Feet” from Mount Joy reminds us, hormonal surges cause ligaments in the feet to relax, which can flatten arches. New shifts in how you bear weight can also result in over-pronation, a condition we’ve mentioned before with respect to orthotics. This can make walking painful, and increase strain on the legs and lower back. Since many of these discomforts are already a concern for pregnant women, minimizing additional stress from foot problems is an important move for avoiding unnecessary and potentially serious discomfort and injury.
2. Pre-natal massage: While some pregnant women might see this as a luxury, having a pre-natal massage can be a highly effective treatment to lessen symptoms of pregnancy and its toll on your body. Massage reduces strain on muscles, nerve pain and swelling, while improving circulation, which is particularly important during pregnancy due to the elevated risk of blood clots.
3. A therapeutic outlet: whether it’s a psychotherapist, a support group, or a pre-natal yoga class, it’s important to have a space to relax and work through some of the more emotionally complicated aspects of pregnancy. The fact that you are undergoing a major (and exciting!) life change, in addition to onslaughts of hormones can produce any mixture of feelings including tension, stress, guilt, and anxiety. The proper form of therapy can help to foster a healthy and calm state of being, which will better prepare any expectant mom for labour, delivery and motherhood.
So don’t just be good to yourself during your pregnancy- be great! Tackle unaddressed discomforts- whether physical or emotional- with these natural, body-friendly treatments.
We’ve discussed a few of the ways that chiropractic care can benefit an expectant mother. Many women intuitively think of back pain relief when they hear the words “pre-natal” and “chiropractic,” but we know chiropractic adjustments to have other benefits for pregnant women than soothing a sore back.
One of these beneficial treatments is called the Webster Technique, an adjustment specifically designed and developed to help remove intra-uterine constraint. If your baby is not properly positioned to be birthed head-first, delivery can be longer, more taxing, and require additional invasive medical intervention. This technique is designed to remove constraint in the pelvis to free up space for the baby to move into a better position. Often, the result of removing this tension is that a baby that is improperly positioned will turn to make delivery less difficult.
…So Who’s Webster?
The Webster Technique is named for its founder Dr. Larry Webster who witnessed his daughter experience a very difficult delivery as the result of her baby presenting breech. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) provides a detailed history of Dr. Webster’s experience and the events that led him to develop this technique. During the early stages of his daughter’s labour, Dr. Webster was able to keep performing chiropractic adjustments for her, but eventually hospital staff put a stop to this as the labour intensified and progressed. His birth of his grandchild was long and arduous. After this experience, Dr. Webster was eager to develop an adjustment specifically for pregnant women to help facilitate easier births by reducing the complications and difficulty involved when the baby presents as breech.
So the Webster Technique came into creation as Dr. Webster began caring for another pregnant mother whose baby needed help positioning for birth. After practicing his chiropractic adjustment on her for several weeks, the baby turned vertex and was delivered successfully.
Dr. Webster’s technique was formally implemented by the ICPA in 2000. Today, this technique, which is formally called the “Webster In-Utero Constraint Technique,” is widely used by chiropractors on pregnant patients. Its goal is to improve misalignments of the sacrum, the triangular bone at the very base of your back (kind of behind your pelvis).
But how will it help to re-position my baby?
Sacral subluxations are thought to be an underlying cause of difficult labours. In fact the Webster Technique’s effectiveness is based on the connection between sacral subluxations and factors contributing to “dystocia,” or difficult childbirths: things like ineffective pelvic contractions, poor uterine health, and the improper positioning of the baby. When your pelvic bones are misaligned, it can result in the twisting and tightening of your entire pelvic region. This is what prevents your baby from transitioning into the optimal position for birth, and those unyielding muscles also make labour and delivery more difficult.
The way to open your body for birth is to align it properly. Regular adjustments and use of the Webster’s Technique can help to optimize your pelvic position and supporting ligaments and muscles for giving birth vaginally, and allows baby to find the best position possible.
The first step is of course a personalized assessment with a chiropractor, who can tell you more about your body’s alignment, and how it might be better adjusted to optimize childbirth. Depending on the presence of any other pregnancy symptoms you might be experiencing , your chiropractor can also recommend other treatments to combine with the Webster Technique to further reduce nerve pressure and muscle pain.
If you’re a soon-to-be mom, your delivery is a momentous and exciting event! While childbirth is never predictable, the entire process can feel more stressful if your baby is presenting breech. If you’d like to chat about The Webster Technique or any other pregnancy-related adjustments, don’t forget that Dr. Wise has ICPA training to care for women during pregnancy with gentle, targeted techniques. Plus she loves to meet new moms! Make an appointment to meet her today.
Sore back? Aching knees? Pelvic pain? Chiropractic can help!
We recently came across a fantastic article from Birth Without Fear about why chiropractic is so helpful to women for enjoying an optimal pregnancy and birth. This post makes the important suggestion that women should never feel like they are out of options when suffering from intense pregnancy symptoms. Although certain physical effects of pregnancy are to be expected and tolerated, their severity and frequency can certainly be soothed and managed with the aid of chiropractic.
We appreciated the detail with which Birth Without Fear explained how specific muscle tensions and subluxations can produce negative outcomes and hindrances during pregnancy and birth. Some of the targeted problems for adjustment that were mentioned include:
1. Body imbalances that can produce a misaligned pelvis. Certain subluxations can cause your thoracic spine and lumbar spine to bend in opposite directions. As a result, one side of the pelvis can be raised, which can cause problems when your baby tries to re-position for birth. And, as with many imbalances, an uneven pelvis will cause a pregnant woman to unevenly distribute her weight to different joints and muscles. This can make those pregnancy aches and pains much more aggravated than they would be otherwise.
2. Nerve tension that causes inflammation and stress. When the muscles surrounding your spine get tighter, more stress is put on the nerves along the spinal column. These are important nerves; they exit the spine and lead to many critical organs and glands. If these nerves experience sustained tension and pressure, the stress could potentially lead to degeneration of these other vital body parts.
3. Thoracic, lumbar and sacral nerve pressure that decreases blood flow. When there is excess pressure exerted on your nerves, it can limit blood flow to the kidneys, liver and other vital organs. The article stresses the dangers of compromising the functioning of these organs. One possible result is the leaking of protein into the urine, which is a sign of preeclampsia. Undue pressure can also tighten your uterus, making it difficult to effectively labour and dilate.
Thanks to Birth Without Fear, for this enlightening article that does the important work of detailing why it’s so important to have a chiropractic assessment during pregnancy. Many pregnant women want to do all they can to ensure they have a healthy pregnancy and a delivery that doesn’t stray too far from their birth plan. While some elements of childbirth are certainly unpredictable, one component you can control is the care you give yourself leading up to your due date.
Expectant mothers consider chiropractic and massage as ways to relieve their immediate physical distress such as back pain and poor circulation. They may not know about the many other important benefits of undergoing an adjustment, and the link between chiropractic and an effective, healthy delivery. This connection is very important to us at Thrive Health, as we specialize in young family care. Our resident chiropractor Dr. Jennifer Wise is experienced and uniquely trained through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association to care for women during pregnancy with gentle and specifically tailored chiropractic care.
If you’re expecting, drop in and see what we can do to improve your pre-natal health and comfort. We’d love to meet you!
It’s no secret that we encourage safe, strengthening and relaxing forms of exercise for expectant moms. We recently spoke to several moms at Baby and Me Fitness’ Aqua Bellies and Yoga Bellies classes. Pre-natal exercise is an important part of a healthy pregnancy journey.
Yoga is an ideal form of exercise for expectant women because classes are tailored for pregnant bellies, and you’re under constant supervision. In an extremely pro-yoga blog post, pre-natal yoga guru Lori Lucas goes so far to declare that “Yoga is superior to all other forms of exercise during pregnancy (hands down).”
She cites an interesting study done by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that found women who practiced yoga during their pregnancy had an increased chance of a healthy delivery.
The women who attended yoga classes during their second trimester reported higher birth weights for their newborns, as well as lower rates of hypertension compared to the women who didn’t practice yoga.
Study stats aside, prenatal yoga is a wonderful way to relieve the stresses and tensions of pregnancy. Practicing yoga can help you get to sleep at night and ease lower back pain and morning nausea. Not to mention the fact that you’ll get the chance to meet other women preparing for the joys (and stresses) of motherhood.
Yoga is a great training ground to prepare you for the adventure of childbirth. It prepares you for labour with exercises that calm your breathing and improve flexibility.
Many women like yoga because it provides a wonderful opportunity to take a break from the pressures of your day and restore mindfulness. Things can get very hectic during (and after!) pregnancy. Spending an hour focused entirely on yourself, your mood, your breathing, balance and rhythm can help to restore a sense of peace and order. Plus it’s nice to get in some “you” time before the baby comes.
You only spend a short time in your life being pregnant. While the joys of motherhood are inexpressible, yoga gives you an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the experience of pregnancy too.