4 Pregnancy Advice Tips from a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist
Congratulations! You are going to become a new mom or a mom again! You’re probably getting ready and reading about articles and books to prepare you for your newborn. Many new moms and current moms do an amazing job preparing for the baby but don’t really focus on preparing themselves for pregnancy and labour and delivery. Here are 4 Pregnancy Advice Tips to make the journey a bit smoother:
Tip #1: Make sure you exercise!
One of the most important pregnancy advice tips is to exercise throughout your pregnancy! Most pregnant women except for a small percentage can participate in exercise and physical activity. Evidence-based recommendations show that exercise can improve the health of the mother and the baby. Some benefits include improving your blood glucose levels, decreasing your risk of gestational diabetes, decreasing risk of preeclampsia, decreasing the chance of a caesarean section and decreasing low back and pelvic pain. Not only that, but exercise can improve mental health! The CSEP 2019 Canadian Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. The Canadian Guidelines recommend it’s best to do some exercises every day.
Tip #2: Practice breathing and relaxation
Controlling your breathing is one of the best ways of calming down your nervous system and relaxing. Knowing how to control your breathing can enhance oxygenation, relaxation, and body awareness and mindfulness. It can also decrease stress hormones which is important in early labour. If controlled breathing is combined with other comfort strategies (e.g., showering, using a birth ball, tub immersion) it can be very effective. These are just a few strategies for women to try other than the epidural. The Official Lamaze Guide suggests “The “right” way to breathe is whatever feels right… The key here is that the breathing is conscious, not automatic.”
Tip #3: Try perineal massage
This pregnancy advice tip is not the most well known. Tears and trauma to the perineum can occur after having a vaginal birth and these rates are particularly high for first time pregnancies. Other factors such as increased baby head size, baby weight, instrumental deliveries and malposition can influence the risk of tearing. In case you didn’t know, perineal massage is the practice of massaging the perineum (tissue between vagina and anus) to prepare the area to stretch during labour. A Cochrane Review by Beckmann & Stock et al., considered a higher-quality evidence-based article, showed perineal massage was associated with an overall 9% reduction in the incidence of trauma requiring suturing. Also, women who performed perineal massage on average of 1.5 times per week were 16% less likely to get an episiotomy.
Tip #4: Consider a birth doula
All women should be provided with continuous 1-on-1 labour support that includes emotional support, comfort measures, and advice throughout her labour. A Management of Spontaneous Labour at Term in Healthy Women noted that continuous labour support increased the likelihood of a vaginal delivery, lowered the risk of a Caesarean delivery, reduced the use of epidural analgesia, and improved satisfaction scores of mothers. Further investigation showed that having 1-on-1 support from someone not part of the hospital staff or from the mother’s social network was the most effective, therefore, consider having a doula there to assist you.
Bottom line & Take Home Pregnancy Advice:
If you have more questions or need help getting started on any of these items, book a Pelvic Health Physiotherapy appointment and get customized and evidence-based information directly for you. Visit our Pelvic Health Physiotherapy page for more information.