This past Monday, Physical Therapist Mags Matthews of Alive Physical Therapy taught a community education event at The Nest, entitled Prenatal Perspectives. In this class, moms-to-be and their partners learned simple exercises to keep their bodies injury-free before, during, and after pregnancy.
The class focused on two muscle groups: the pelvic floor and the deep core.
The pelvic floor serves many functions, including controlling bowel movements and urination. Through easy-to-grasp explanations, Mags taught the class how to engage these muscles. We learned of problems that can occur both from the pelvic floor being too weak (pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence) and too tight (pain from nerve pinching, muscle knots).
The deep core, or transversus abdominis, is critical for many body functions, including helping to push the baby out during birth. The deep core is used to stabilize the rest of the body. It is the deepest layer of abdominal muscle. The class also learned how to engage this muscle.
The tricky part that all class participants seemed to grasp by the end of the class was how to engage the pelvic floor and the deep core together and independently. Creating an awareness and connection with these muscles — muscles which many people do not actively think of — is critical, especially for pregnant women.
By intentionally engaging these muscles and maintaining good form, women can avoid injury during routine daily tasks like getting out of bed, and lifting the baby from their cribs or the floor. In this class, participants learned and practiced such techniques. Women who have given birth in the past two years are at higher risk for injury during these and other activities, due to the trauma these areas (abdomen and pelvis) have gone through during pregnancy and child birth.
Physical changes take place in the woman’s body during pregnancy and birth. Hormones such as relaxin cause pelvic ligaments to stretch. Posture can change due to the center of gravity shifting. And even the gait can change. Maintaining a healthy and strong pelvis and core can reduce the chances of injury, such as diastasis recti, which is the separating of the left and right halves of the topmost abdominal muscle. The exercises covered in this class can also help to recover from already sustained injuries.
Mags Matthews teaches Postnatal Baby and Me Fitness class at The Nest every Wednesday from 10am – 11am. In this class you can learn many of these exercises discussed here so you can have a happier and healthier pregnancy and postpartum period.
This class taught by Mags is part of a series of Prenatal Perspectives classes taught by several practitioners at The Nest, and repeated three times per year. There is one class per month, and you don’t need to start at the beginning.