Physical Therapy for Every Stage of Pregnancy

Physical Therapy for Every Stage of Pregnancy

by Christina Christie PT, CCE, FAFS, 3DMAPS, CAFSLeave a Comment

Pregnancy, labor and delivery, recovery and motherhood are athletic events in themselves! And while women are extremely resilient, many may find great benefits through physical therapy. Physical Therapists who specialize in Pelvic Health can assist your journey at every stage of pregnancy, as well as in the recovery stage throughout the fourth trimester.

The First Trimester

In the first trimester (the first 12 weeks) you may experience fatigue, nausea, vomiting and lack of appetite. During this time, the increase in hormones may lead to urinary frequency. Understanding normal bladder and bowel health can help prevent future symptoms.1 You can take our Pelvic Health Quiz to see if you are experiencing symptoms that can be helped by physical therapy. Any orthopedic issues such as low back pain or hip pain may also be intensified due to the hormonal changes during this stage. Learning exercises specific for pregnancy and your individual needs will support your pregnancy.

The Second Trimester

In the second trimester (weeks 13-26), you will likely experience increased energy, growth of the belly and breasts and possibly leg cramps. Our clinicians can assist with proper maternity belly or low back supports to ease discomfort. Our team can also evaluate your entire kinetic chain to improve mobility and strength. An individualized exercise prescription would address your current needs and goals.

The Third Trimester

In the third trimester (27 weeks to birth of your baby), you will continue to experience growth of the belly and breasts, low back pain may increase, numbness in your legs and feet may occur, vulvar varicosities or hemorrhoids may also be present. Our pelvic health clinicians can address all of these symptoms and implement a plan of care for your individual needs.

The Fourth Trimester

After the birth of your baby, you enter the fourth trimester.2 The demands of motherhood are many. However, experiencing pain and dysfunction should not be part of the picture. In May of 2018, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology emphasized a multidisciplinary approach to care for the mother.3 This includes physical therapy to address any of the following issues:

  • Low back pain
  • Incontinence
  • Pelvic pain/pressure
  • Episiotomy scar pain
  • Cesarean birth scar pain
  • Rectus diastasis

To read more on what to expect after your baby is born, check out our blog The Fourth Trimester: The Birth of a Mother.

Start at Athletico

We are here to take care of you throughout your pregnancy and beyond! If you are currently pregnant or recently delivered, schedule a free assessment with an Athletico pelvic health specialist. Our team will conduct an assessment and provide recommendations for next steps throughout pregnancy and the fourth trimester.

Request a Free Assessment

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1) Mannion, C.A., et al. (2015). The influence of Back Pain and Urinary Incontinence of Daily Tasks of Mothers at 12 Months Postpartum. PLoS ONE, 10 (6), e0129615.
2) Tully, K.P., et al. The Fourth Trimester: a critical transition period with unmet maternal health needs. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 217 (1), 37-41.
3) Committee on Obstetric Practice, Stuebe, A., et al. (May 2018) ACOG Committee Opinion-Optimizing Pospartum Care. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 131 (5)e 140-150.

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Tina Christie was a physical therapist at Athletico Physical Therapy at the time of this blog.

Read more health resources related to these topics:

Physical TherapyPregnancyWomen's Healthpelvic healthpregnancy tips

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