What is Pregnancy and Postnatal Physiotherapy?
Pregnancy and Postnatal Physiotherapy is a specific branch of Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapy.
Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapists have skills to assess, treat and support specific conditions during this time.
They also provide exercise classes and education classes.
When should I see a Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist during my pregnancy?
To keep you comfortable and healthy through your pregnancy, and to help your recovery afterwards, it is recommended to see a Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist as early as possible in pregnancy.
In this initial appointment the physiotherapist can assess your pelvic floor muscles and teach you how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly, as 50% of people do them wrong.
You will be given an individualised pelvic floor exercise program either to maintain or improve your strength and endurance.
Your physiotherapist can screen you for any existing musculoskeletal issues that may predispose you to discomfort as your baby grows or treat you for any discomforts that may have already appeared.
Your appointment will also cover safe exercise during the different trimesters of pregnancy, as these guidelines change as your body adapts to baby’s growth.
What conditions does a Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist treat during pregnancy?
Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, and unfortunately this can result in discomfort or pain for some people.
Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapists can help to manage common pregnancy related issues such as pain of the upper back, ribs, lower back (including sciatica), pelvic girdle (including pubic bone and hips) and hands (including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome).
Pregnancy also puts pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, which can contribute to issues with bladder and bowel control during this time.
Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapists have training to help manage these problems specifically during pregnancy.
When should I see a Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist postnatally (after having baby)?
For the best recovery after having your baby, it is recommended to see a Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist at 6-8 weeks postnatal for a Postnatal Check.
It is best to schedule this appointment for after you have seen your obstetrician for your medical check.
This appointment is different to your Obstetrician’s visit as it includes:
- Bladder and bowel check
- Pelvic floor muscle assessment and program
- Abdominal muscle separation assessment and program
- Return to exercise and sport program
Even if you do not have any symptoms or problems it is recommended to complete this assessment. Rehabilitation with a Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist in the postnatal period will help you to recover your optimal pelvic floor muscle and abdominal muscle function.
If you are symptom free it does not mean these muscles are as strong as before, and while your muscles may cope with day-to-day load, people can develop problems with their next pregnancy or as they enter menopause if proper rehabilitation is not completed.
What conditions does a Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist treat postnatally (after having a baby)?
You can see a Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist earlier than 6-8 weeks if you are struggling with any of the following problems:
- Breast feeding issues including mastitis or blocked ducts (which can be treated with therapeutic ultrasound therapy) and grazed or cracked nipples (which can be treated with low level laser therapy). Southcare Physiotherapy also recommends booking to see your lactation consultant if you have these issues.
- Vaginal delivery issues including perineal swelling from stitches or bruising (therapeutic ultrasound therapy), delayed healing of perineal stitches (low level laser therapy) or delayed healing of haemorrhoids (therapeutic ultrasound).
- Bladder issues including absent or reduced sensation, problems emptying your bladder, problems making it to the toilet, or leakage with cough and sneeze.
- Bowel issues including constipation resulting in straining, bleeding or pain, problems making it to the toilet, or leakage of wind or stool.
- Pelvic floor issues including prolapse, vaginal heaviness and vaginal pain
- Musculoskeletal issues including pain of the neck, upper back, lower back, coccyx, and wrist.
Is a referral required?
No referral is required to see a Continence and Pelvic Health physiotherapist.
Can I claim this service as an extra on my health insurance policy?
Physiotherapy sessions may be claimed on private health insurance depending on your level of cover, please check with your private health insurance provider.