Pregnancy and Occupational Therapy

Pregnancy is truly one of life’s amazing times however, far too many women don’t get to enjoy this experience. Many women suffer from pain and dysfunction during and after pregnancy, yet much of the pain and dysfunction can be treatable.

What happens in the Pre-natal Stages?

Changes in posture occur during pregnancy and can commonly cause pain in the upper and lower back. During pregnancy, as the uterus and baby grows, the mother’s centre of gravity moves forward. Mother’s commonly compensate for this shift of gravity by slumping forward which causes the shoulders to roll forward and puts increasing stress on the muscles of the back, shoulders and neck.

The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy cause the ligaments in the body to become looser. This loosening of the ligaments predominantly occurs where the spine and pelvis connect, causing changes to the abdominal and neck muscles, and the posture of the low back.

Common Pre-natal Conditions

Some other common conditions affecting women during their pregnancies that soft tissue occupational therapists (OTs) may help with are:

Pelvic Instability – A group of conditions that cause pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy. This can be caused by an increase in the hormone, Relaxin, which circulates in pregnant women and/or by a change in the symmetry of the body.

Sciatic Pain – The sciatic nerves comes from your lower back, travels down the back of your leg and then branches out to the feet. Sciatic pain occurs when there is inflammation or pressure in your back which is pushing on the sciatic nerve.

Headaches – Commonly caused by hormonal changes and an increase in the volume of blood in the body. Other causes of headaches during pregnancy can include: not getting enough sleep, poor posture and dehydration.

How can we help?

Our thorough assessment can help to identify the cause of pain and dysfunction. Then we will put together a holistic and personalised treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs. Treatment can include;

  • Soft tissue therapy which involves hands-on treatment of the muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia that can be contributing to your pain and dysfunction

  • Prescribing specific exercises to improve your core stability, so your abdominal muscles are able to better support your pelvis.

  • Prescribing specific stretches for your neck, shoulders, hips and back to help relieve some tension that could be causing sciatic pain and headaches.

Soft tissue occupational therapy is safe for pregnant women as the therapists will treat the women while they lay on their side or in a seated position.