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Pregnancy and the 4th Trimester

Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time as you navigate many changes to your body and prepare for your new little one on the way. Commonly expectant mothers are left wondering if the way their body is feeling is ‘normal’.

Checking in with your Dr of Physical Therapy before, during and after pregnancy is a great way to make sure your body is safely preparing, adjusting and recovering from these changes.

Doctors of Physical Therapy are Musculoskeletal experts; they are the ones to help navigate how your body should be moving and functioning.

During pregnancy your body experiences a great deal of hormonal changes, one being an increase in Relaxin. This starts around 7-10 weeks and continues throughout pregnancy acting to relax muscles, joints and ligaments; particularly those around the pelvic region. This can lead to joint pain. Your Physical Therapist can help to reduce pain by providing manual techniques, exercises and education to reduce undue stress on your body.

Many people know of the 3 trimesters of pregnancy however forget about what is being called the 4th Trimester; the first 12 weeks following birth.

During this time a lot of the focus is on your new child and it is easy to forget about yourself and your healing body. A Dr. of Physical Therapy can help navigate this time, screening out common issues that may happen during postpartum.

One common issue postpartum is Diastasis Recti- a separation of the muscles of the abdominal wall.

Symptoms of Diastasis Recti:

  • Back pain

  • Feeling of core weakness/instability

  • Excess skin or bulge in abdominal area (some say the continued look of being 4 mths pregnant)

  • Pelvic pain

  • Incontinence

How to check yourself at home

Lay on your back with your knees bent.

Take two fingers and place them just above or below your belly button.

Lift your head and shoulders off the ground.

A diagnosis of Diastasis Recti is usually made with a distance between your right and left Abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) being greater than 2 fingers width. If you suspect you may have this contact your Physical Therapist for a professional Evaluation and further information

Continued separation of these muscles following birth should be addressed appropriately with your Physical Therapist to avoid long term core dysfunction leading to further issues with returning to unrestricted exercise/sport and commonly low back pain.

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