Pregnancy Fact Sheet

Pregnancy is a time of great change within a woman's body, and can lead to many feelings or uncertainty, particularly as the baby grows and changes in the woman's body become more apparent.

Pregnancy hormones cause a 'softening' of the ligaments, potentially leading to reduced joint support. This, along with the extra strain on the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles as the baby grows, generally results in less support of the lower back and pelvis. It is recommended to avoid high impact, jolting exercises. 

Commonly the central vertical abdominal muscles stretch and separate at their midline. This is known as a Rectus Abdominis Diastasis. While it is important to maintain abdominal muscle strength during pregnancy, correct exercise technique is essential, as performing conventional sit-up type exercises may actually worsen this separation, potentially putting greater stress on the lower back and pelvic regions. 

Exercising while on your back is not recommended after about 16 weeks of pregnancy, as this may cause a reduction in blood flow to the heart and head, leading to feelings of faintness and light-headedness. More importantly, the blood flow to the placenta and baby may decrease. 

During pregnancy, extra strain on the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) may mean they don't work quite as well as they should, possibly resulting in impairments in bladder and bowel function such as incontinence and reduced support of the pelvic organs, which may manifest as a pelvic organ prolapse. 

We recommend a pregnancy assessment by a Physiotherapist with a Post-Graduate qualification in Continence and Women's Health to assess the function of the PFM and abdominal muscles, and to advise on appropriate exercises to be continued during pregnancy. 

Selected LifeCare centres offer Physiotherapy Pilates and Antenatal Hydrotherapy classes, which are run by Physiotherapists who have extensive training in exercise programming for pregnant women.

For more information go to www.lifecare.com.au/womenshealth or Call 9332 2132