Hypermobility during Pregnancy

Physical Therapy

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06/24/2024

Pregnancy is a transformative journey marked by numerous changes in a woman’s body, including hormonal shifts, weight gain, and alterations in posture and biomechanics. For women with hypermobility, pregnancy can present additional challenges due to the inherent joint laxity and increased risk of musculoskeletal issues. As a physical therapist specializing in hypermobility, I’ve had the privilege of working with many expectant mothers with hypermobility, and in this blog, we’ll explore the unique considerations, potential challenges, and strategies for managing hypermobility during pregnancy.

Understanding Hypermobility During Pregnancy

Hypermobility refers to an increased mobility in one or more joints beyond what is considered normal for an individual. During pregnancy, hormonal changes, particularly the hormone relaxin, contribute to increased joint laxity and flexibility, which can exacerbate symptoms of hypermobility. This can lead to a variety of musculoskeletal issues, including joint instability, pelvic girdle pain, and lower back pain, impacting mobility and comfort during pregnancy.

Challenges Associated with Hypermobility During Pregnancy

Pregnancy-related changes, combined with underlying hypermobility, can pose several challenges for expectant mothers, including:

  • Joint Instability: Increased joint laxity during pregnancy can exacerbate pre-existing joint instability, leading to an increased risk of falls, sprains, and musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Pelvic Girdle Pain: Pelvic girdle pain, including symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJD), is common among pregnant women with hypermobility due to the strain placed on the pelvis and supporting ligaments.
  • Lower Back Pain: Hypermobile joints and altered biomechanics can contribute to lower back pain during pregnancy, further exacerbated by the additional weight and changes in posture.
  • Fatigue and Discomfort: Dealing with chronic pain and physical limitations can be exhausting, leading to fatigue, discomfort, and decreased mobility during pregnancy.

Strategies for Managing Hypermobility During Pregnancy

Despite the challenges posed by hypermobility during pregnancy, there are several strategies that expectant mothers can implement to manage symptoms and promote comfort and well-being:

  • Strengthening Exercises: Engage in gentle strengthening exercises targeting the muscles surrounding hypermobile joints, particularly the pelvic floor, core, and stabilizing muscles of the pelvis and spine, to improve joint stability and support. The sooner you start these, the more helpful they will be.
  • Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation: Participate in pelvic floor physical therapy to address pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and pelvic girdle pain, through exercises, manual therapy, and education on proper pelvic alignment and posture.
  • Supportive Devices: Use supportive devices such as maternity/SIJ belts to provide additional support to the pelvis and alleviate symptoms of pelvic girdle pain and instability.
  • Prenatal Yoga and Pilates: Engage in prenatal yoga and Pilates classes specifically tailored to pregnant women, focusing on gentle stretching, strengthening, and relaxation techniques to improve posture, flexibility, and overall well-being.
  • Postural Awareness: Maintain good posture and body mechanics during daily activities, avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, and using supportive pillows or cushions to relieve pressure on hypermobile joints.
  • Rest and Self-Care: Prioritize rest, relaxation, and self-care during pregnancy, listening to your body and taking breaks as needed to manage fatigue and discomfort effectively.

Consult with a Physical Therapist

If you’re experiencing significant pain or mobility limitations related to hypermobility during pregnancy, consider seeking guidance from a physical therapist specializing in hypermobility and/or women’s health physical therapist. A physical therapist can provide personalized assessment and treatment to address your specific needs and goals, offering strategies to manage symptoms, promote optimal function, and support you throughout your pregnancy journey.

In conclusion, navigating hypermobility during pregnancy requires a proactive and multidisciplinary approach aimed at addressing symptoms and promoting comfort and well-being. By implementing strategies such as strengthening exercises, pelvic floor rehabilitation, supportive devices, and prenatal yoga, expectant mothers with hypermobility can manage symptoms effectively and optimize their pregnancy experience. Consulting with a physical therapist specializing in hypermobility and/or women’s health can provide invaluable support and guidance, empowering women to embrace the transformative journey of pregnancy with confidence and resilience.

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