This One is for All the Mommies and Mommy-to-be’s out there!!
So, I’m just going to start out by admitting the fact that I was very naive about pregnancy and all that it entailed. I mean, I heard all the stories. I work at Apex for goodness sake! How could I have not heard all the stories!? Between my co-workers and siblings that have had children, I have been spared very few details (I am surrounded by very open, honest individuals). However, hearing the stories and going through the experience yourself is VERY different.
For some reason, I thought that I was going to be immune to fatigue, nausea, moodiness, feeling like a stuffed sausage… I thought
“Oh yeah, I’ll exercise and do my workouts throughout most of my pregnancy.”
I knew that modifications would be necessary and felt confident as a physical therapist (especially a women’s health physical therapist), that I would be able to do this successfully and even in a way that would make pregnancy and delivery easier. Yay me! Then the dreaded effects of the first trimester hit…
It was probably around 8 weeks that I first started to feel defeated by the task of taking a shower in the morning. Did I run a marathon in my dreams last night? Why am I so tired? I would get out of the shower and just lay on the floor in my robe, staring at the clothes in my closet while I tried to decide what to wear that day.
The weeks seemed to go by in somewhat of a blur (probably because I slept so much). There were times I wanted to eat everything in sight and times I just wanted a bowl of cereal for dinner. I seemed to have more aversions to food than any particular craving. I felt very sluggish and as if all the energy were being stolen from me–which was exactly what was happening! This was way outside of “normal” for me since I usually felt fairly energetic throughout the day. At least from about 5:00 am to 9:00 pm!. I was counting down to the second trimester, which I had heard was pregnancy bliss in comparison.
Around week 14-16 I definitely had more energy and felt a little more like a person. I still wouldn’t equate how I felt to “normal,” just as a heads up for all those waiting for that feeling to come. Does that ever come back? But I got back into a routine of getting some exercises in, walking at least 20 minutes on incline on our treadmill at home. Occasionally, I could feel the effects of the pregnancy hormones and would get some discomfort from the shifting at my pelvis and sacrum. Luckily, I’m surrounded by PT’s at work and could jump in someone’s treatment room briefly for some muscle energy techniques to improve my alignment and ease the discomfort. Overall, I was feeling pretty good and getting some energy back… until I came down with the flu.
Having the flu while being pregnant was one of the more humbling experiences for me so far. For one, I’m usually very healthy. When I’m not, I tend to appear as if I’m coming down with what others may refer to as a “man-flu” and this time was no exception. It didn’t help that I was throwing up every hour on the hour throughout half of the day. It was already difficult for me to get liquids down throughout the beginning of pregnancy so this was an extra chore as well. Even though I should have been dehydrated to the max and shouldn’t have had any extra fluid to expel, I somehow also managed to pee my pants EVERY time I threw up. What was that?! I treat patients for urinary incontinence, but up until that point, I had yet to experience the effects of increased abdominal pressure combined with a lack of muscular support that would lead to urine involuntarily leaving my body! I had to debate on whether to keep a towel on the ground by the toilet or to just take a seat and hold a bucket in my lap! Time to step up those kegel exercises!
I’m currently in my last trimester and awaiting what’s in store for me. Pubic symphysis dysfunction with a side of SI joint pain? Varicose veins? Sciatica? Increased heart burn? Hemorrhoids? These are some of the things I’ve heard about and even helped patients with in the past.
I’m relieved by the fact that I am surrounded by such knowledgeable moms and therapists at work, and I know because of this I will manage whatever gets thrown my way. Due to the nature of my job and coming into contact with many moms, I also know that I’ve had it fairly easy compared to what some moms endure; nausea and vomiting throughout the entire pregnancy, exacerbation of an IC diagnosis throughout pregnancy, pregnancy along with a diagnosis of EDS, unrelenting sciatic pain.
I have a lot of respect for these moms and feel honored that they have placed their trust in me to help them relieve and manage these symptoms throughout pregnancy.
I would like to think that these experiences have (or will) allow me to become a better physical therapist. I can use my experience and knowledge as a PT to educate future moms in areas that I know I would want to learn about such as: proper mechanics getting into/out of bed or a car to minimize pain, birthing positions that decrease the tension at my pelvic floor to allow for the most natural birth (we use biofeedback with SEMG to actually measure the activity in the muscles), the best supportive belts or taping techniques to manage SI instability, safe exercises to complete during pregnancy AND post-partum to manage DRA and incontinence following delivery, and knowing that sometimes what your body needs most…is rest! A women’s health physical therapist has so much to offer pre and post-partum women. I know I will be getting on a co-workers schedule shortly after baby Anderson arrives!
Check out this link for other common symptoms during pregnancy! Physical therapy can help with many of the adverse effects of these changes!