By Michael Hall
Physiotherapists play an important part in the antenatal care of pregnant women and their preparation for labour, birth and parenting. Physiotherapists educate women about the need for good posture during pregnancy and the principles of back care, teaching appropriate lifting skills, lifting and standing postures. Physiotherapists also educate women about the role of the abdominal muscles in supporting the back, and teach exercises to maintain adequate strength for these muscles.
An important role of the physiotherapist is to educate pregnant women about pelvic floor function, correct exercise techniques and the importance of regular exercise. Physiotherapists provide information about general exercise during pregnancy, what can be done safely and what should be avoided, as well as teaching specific exercise techniques to maintain flexibility and strength.
Physiotherapists help to prepare pregnant women and their partners or support people for the physical work of labour. Physical relaxation skills are taught in conjunction with breathing awareness, encouraging women to remain active in labour. Women are taught a variety of labouring positions to allow gravity to assist, but offering comfort and the ability to relax.
They provide information about the use of TENS during labour, giving women the opportunity to use effective analgesia in labour without the risk of the side-effects of drugs.
The final role of the physiotherapist in antenatal education is to prepare couples for the early days in hospital and the first weeks at home with the new baby. The importance of daily rest is emphasised, in conjunction with some gentle exercise to help women return to optimal fitness and physical wellbeing. Couples are taught correct lifting techniques and how correct posture can be maintained when breastfeeding or attending to the needs of the baby. Couples are also informed about baby massage and the importance of the prone position in child development.
For more information or for an appointment, please call Bodywise Health on 1 300 263 994.
• Rebates are available through your private insurance extras cover;
• For complex or chronic conditions, you may qualify for the EPC (Enhanced Primary Care Program) allowing you to receive 5 allied health services each calendar year with a referral from your GP. For more information, please call Bodywise Health now on 1 300 263 994.