Focus On: Ante & Post Natal Aquatic Physiotherapy
A few years ago expectant mums were advised to avoid physical activity, but exercise is now encouraged at all stages of pregnancy - with even those who were not physically active prior to pregnancy being encouraged to stay fit by their healthcare providers.
Aquatic therapy is a safe, gentle way to maintain strength and cardiovascular fitness throughout pregnancy, which has shown to help reduce complications during labour and speed up post-natal recovery. Hydrotherapy can even alleviate symptoms of PGP or low back pain!
When standing in chest deep water, approximately 75% of on-land body weight is made buoyant due to the hydrostatic pressure. These hydrostatic and buoyancy properties not only reduce the aches and pains associated with pregnancy but can assist in decreasing hand and feet oedema in the later stages. Research shows that pregnant women participating in hydrotherapy experience better quality sleep, less cramping and a decreased risk of gestational diabetes.
Hydrotherapy can also help with an expectant mum’s balance, which is often affected during pregnancy due to changes in the body’s centre of gravity. Exercising in water gives a safe environment to exercise in without risk of injury from falling. Exercise on land may become increasingly more uncomfortable as the pregnancy progresses, making exercise in water the most beneficial during the later stages of pregnancy.
Post-Natal Aquatic Therapy
Exercise in water can be a fun, low impact way to restart exercise in the post-natal period. You can work both on strength and cardiovascular fitness without putting excessive strain through your joints. Post-natal women can strengthen their core and pelvic floor, which can lead to back pain or incontinence. The mental benefits are also clear, with many women reporting that hydrotherapy helped to combat baby blues and reduce stress, as well as lose excess weight.
Studies have also shown women who exercise regularly in the post-natal period reduce their risks of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity – there’s really no excuse to not give post-natal aquatic exercise a go; you don’t even need to be able to swim!
PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) and Low Back Pain
The pelvic girdle is a ring of bones around the body at the base of the spine. Pelvic girdle pain is pain in the front and/or the back of the pelvis. It is usually caused by the joints moving unevenly and the pelvic girdle becoming less stable. As a baby grows in the womb, the extra weight may put more strain on the pelvis.
Pain can be mild to severe, but is treatable at any stage in pregnancy and causes no harm to the baby. Symptoms include; pain in the pubic region, lower back, hips, groin, thighs or knees, clicking or grinding in the pelvic area and pain made worse by certain movements.
Those experiencing low back pain or pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) may find it difficult to exercise on land. Exercising in water allows you to maintain cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, which can help reduce any chance of complication during labour and childbirth. The heated water also relaxes tight muscles, which could help you to stay energised and pain-free on land.
First Steps into AquaPhysio
Following an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, provided you are advised it is safe to do so by your GP, you can start exercising 6 weeks post-partum! Although for any complicated births and C-sections, it is advised to wait until 8-10 weeks post-partum, depending on the advice of your GP and our clinics highly trained specialists.
Initial treatment consists of gentle exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, low-impact aerobics, swimming and aqua-aerobics, as it is advised that high impact exercise such as running and jumping, as well as lifting heavy weights should be avoided in the early months. Instead a focus on core and pelvic floor strength, as well as building up your cardiovascular fitness helps to ease you back into fitness post-partum.
Aliya, a member of our aquatic physiotherapy treatment team, has a particualr interest in the treatment and care for ante and post natal conditions. If you’re interested in Antenatal or Postnatal Hydrotherapy give the team a call on 020 8330 6777
PGP (Pelvic girdle pain)
Hydrotherapy during pregnancy
CSP guidelines for ante and post-natal hydrotherapy