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  • Emily McGuire

Easing Pregnancy Pains: Prenatal Pelvic Floor Exercises & Physical Therapy

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, filled with anticipation and excitement. However, it also brings about significant changes to your body as it works to accommodate the growing child. The pelvic floor, which plays a crucial role in supporting the bladder, uterus, and bowels, is greatly impacted by pregnancy. As such, maintaining your pelvic health should be a priority during pregnancy and childbirth. Prenatal pelvic floor exercises, physical therapy, and occupational therapy can work to alleviate common pregnancy pains, empowering expectant mothers to embrace this special time with greater ease and confidence.

Pregnant woman doing pelvic floor exercises

Understanding Pelvic Floor Health During Pregnancy

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that form a hammock-like structure at the base of the pelvis. Among its many functions, the pelvic floor supports the pelvic organs, helping to control the bladder and bowel, as well as facilitating sexual function.

During Pregnancy, the pelvic floor undergoes significant changes due to hormonal shifts, increased pressure from the growing uterus, and the weight gain associated with carrying a baby. These changes can lead to various issues such as urinary incontinence (involuntary loss of urine) and pelvic pain. Additionally, the pelvic floor muscles can become weak or tight, leading to discomfort and potential complications during and after labor and delivery.


Benefits of Prenatal Physical Therapy

Prenatal pelvic floor therapy is a specialized form of occupational and physical therapy designed to address the unique needs that arise due to pregnancy. By focusing on techniques tailored to support the pelvic floor during pregnancy this therapy offers many benefits:


Managing Urinary Incontinence

One of the most common issues experienced during pregnancy is urinary incontinence (involuntary loss of urine). Prenatal physical therapy can help with urethral closure and intra-abdominal pressure management, reducing the likelihood of involuntary urine leakage.


Relief for Pelvic Pain

Many people experience pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy, often due to the strain placed on the pelvic floor muscles, changes in postural alignment, and increased joint mobility. Pelvic floor therapy utilizes targeted exercises and manual techniques to alleviate discomfort and improve pelvic alignment.


Enhanced Postpartum Recovery

By laying the groundwork for a strong, flexible, and functional pelvic floor, prenatal PT can contribute to a speedier postpartum recovery. This is beneficial for both vaginal and c-section deliveries, as it can aid in the healing process.


Improved Sexual Health

Pregnancy can impact sexual function for some, but pelvic floor therapy can help address issues such as pain, discomfort, or decreased sensation. By promoting pelvic floor relaxation and strengthening, this therapy can help to promote better sexual health during and after pregnancy.


Prenatal Pelvic Floor Exercises

A common misconception is that you need your pelvic floor to be stronger, when in reality a lot of pregnant women could benefit from having more mobility in their pelvic floor. In the videos below, Pelvic Health PTA Oriana Barger demonstrates some prenatal pelvic floor exercises you can try at home. These exercises are great for relieving low back pain throughout your pregnancy! Screenshot or download these videos for later!

At-Home Exercises for Low Back Pain During Pregnancy

These three pelvic floor exercises are perfect to do at home since they require no equipment.

  1. Assisted Squats - grab on to a chair or other piece of furniture to support yourself.

  2. Child's Pose - repeat this with your toes pointed in and then with your toes pointed out.

  3. Hip Excursion Walk - this movement it great for combating the pregnancy "waddle!"

3D Pelvic Matrix

Sit on a Swiss exercise ball and do the following movements with your hips.

  1. Rock Forward and Backward

  2. Rock Side to Side

  3. Make Circles Clockwise and Counterclockwise


Make Your Pelvic Floor a Priority

Prenatal pelvic floor therapy offers a multitude of benefits for expectant mothers, addressing common issues associated with pregnancy and preparing the body for childbirth and beyond. By working with a skilled physical therapist who specializes in prenatal care, you can optimize your pelvic health and enjoy a more comfortable and confident pregnancy journey. Whether you're experiencing pelvic pain, bladder problems, or simply want to proactively support your body during pregnancy, prenatal physical therapy may be just what you need to thrive during this transformative time.


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Emily McGuire is a Marketing Associate and staff writer for Rehab United. With a Bachelor's degree in International Business from UC San Diego, she is a California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.

Medically Reviewed By: Whitney Landis, PT, DPT, FAFS, a physical therapist, Director of Pelvic Health, and Fellow of Applied Functional Science. Whitney graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Chapman University in 2010 and has taken numerous continuing education courses pertaining to Women’s/Pelvic Health through Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute and Pelvic Guru. She has also completed the Gray Institute of Functional Transformation (GIFT) Fellowship in 2015.

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