joy that comes with pregnancy can sometimes be overshadowed by the
discomfort and pain of the physical challenges that accompany it. But
women don’t have to live with the discomfort. They can benefit from
physical therapy that focuses on increasing strength and stability and
eliminating pain during and after pregnancy.
Healthcare offers this kind of specialized therapy at all of its
hospitals throughout the metro area. "Women can experience postural
changes, low back pain, sciatica, pelvic pressure and leg cramps, just
to name a few issues. We’re trained to help alleviate those
problems," says Kelly Gebheardt, a physical therapist at St. Joseph’s
Hospital in Milwaukee.
Women can begin
therapy at any point during their pregnancy depending on the
restrictions of their OB/GYN, but the typical time to start is 20 to 30
weeks. "When a woman is referred to us by her doctor, we do a
complete evaluation, ask questions about her medical history and
symptoms. Any specific problems are evaluated and then an individual
plan of care is developed," Gebheardt says.
Abigayle Syrios of
Elm Grove began pregnancy PT at about 25 weeks and continued until a
week before her baby was born. "My doctor told me about the program
because I was having a lot of back pain and she thought it would help. I
had suffered a miscarriage a few months prior to this pregnancy and my
doctor cautioned me against a lot of activity. The therapists took this
into consideration and gave me gentle but effective exercises to ease my
pain and help keep me from gaining too much weight," Syrios says.
After pregnancy, a
different set of problems may arise. "Women often need help with
body mechanics because they’re now lifting the baby carrier and other
items. Upper back problems can also result from incorrect posture during
nursing. And we can address the all too common problem of urinary
incontinence," Gebheardt says.
Four months after
her baby was born, Syrios went back to therapy for weekly sessions.
"The biggest benefit I gained from physical therapy was that it
helped me develop muscle strength. I have recommended it to all of my
pregnant friends because it was so helpful to me," she says. m