Ask the Experts [Mums Edition]

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Rectus diastasis is one of the common side effects experienced after pregnancy. What is rectus diastasis and how do we treat it?

Rectus diastasis refers to the splitting of the anterior abdominal muscles during pregnancy. In most cases, it is painless but some women can experience a new onset of low back pain or urinary incontinence after giving birth. Rectus diastasis can be assessed via a simple ‘chest lift’ test, but the management is more often complex and needs professional help from a physiotherapist. This includes gentle core and pelvic floor exercises, but do consult with your physiotherapist about your treatment plan and recovery, as each individual is different.

– Tay Jia Zhi (JZ), Physiotherapist

 

What can I do to help ease my backache during pregnancy? It sometimes even affects my sleep.

Most women experience backaches at some point of their pregnancy, especially towards the later stages. This is because of the change in posture as your baby grows, hormonal changes and greater water retention in the tissues. Some simple strategies to help alleviate back pain during the day would be to avoid heavy lifting and housework, avoiding prolonged standing with frequent rests, sitting in chairs with good back support and maintaining good posture.

Backaches can sometimes worsen at night contributing to sleeping difficulties. Things to try for a better night’s rest include lying on your side with a pillow under your tummy and another between your knees for better support, taking more rest during the day so as not to over exert yourself, and going for a walk or doing some gentle exercises in the late afternoon or early evening. For more tips and ways to manage your back pain, feel free to consult one of our Physiotherapists.

– Joy Lee, Physiotherapist

 

Is incontinence normal or to be expected after giving birth? How long should it last for? 

Incontinence happens often during and after childbearing as a result of the pelvic floor muscles being stretched from the weight of the baby during pregnancy and also from the birthing process. As a result, it is normal to have some incontinence post-partum, but as with any pregnancy-related physical conditions (e.g. lower back or SIJ pain, rectus diastasis, etc), it can be readily treated/managed. For incontinence, the main form of treatment would be reconditioning the pelvic floor by doing specific pelvic floor exercises. These exercises are prescribed by physiotherapists and can be done at home. As with any recovery process, everyone recovers at a different pace depending on their condition, but it usually takes around 6-12 months if the exercises are done diligently.

– Max Teong, Physiotherapist

 

My neck and shoulders have been aching from carrying and breastfeeding my baby – is there anything I can do to help with that? 

Getting pain in the neck, shoulder and back region post-partum is quite common, because of the added load of caring for the new baby (carrying, breastfeeding, changing diapers and etc). Additionally, the body is naturally deconditioned over the nine months of pregnancy due to hormonal changes and inability to exercise as much as before. Often, this can be managed by alternating sides when breastfeeding, watching your posture when lifting your baby or bending over to change your baby’s diapers. Some simple stretches and exercises like the Cat-Camel stretch, Quadruped, Book opening and Theraband-resisted upper back rows are also recommended to help alleviate the pain. For more tips and exercises, you may check with our physiotherapists.

– Max Teong, Physiotherapist

 

Why am I getting pain in between my hips, deep in my groin area during/after pregnancy? 

During pregnancy, the relaxin hormones soften your ligaments and cartilage of the body, allowing the pelvis to be more flexible as the baby grows. In some cases, the pubic symphysis, which is the cartilage that joins the two halves of the pelvis in the front midline, widens too much and creates a gap between the two bones, causing a dysfunction. The joint becomes less stable and brings on pain typically with weight bearing activities such as walking, with occasional clicking or grinding sensation in the pubic area, and/or pain down the inside of inner thighs.

Physiotherapist can help manage pubic symphysis dysfunction or pelvic girdle pain with soft tissue mobilisation and manipulation for pain relief. This is often followed by a Pilates programme, which focuses on strengthening your muscles in an unloaded position without stressing the joints. Focus will be placed on strengthening your hip, lower back, deep lower abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to provide stability to your joints. Speak to your physiotherapists today for more tips and information regarding pelvic girdle pain during and after pregnancy.

– Vanessa Wong, Physiotherapist

 

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