The Pregnancy Files #1: Life as a Pregnant Physio
Hello, Cara-Lee here. You may recall I *started* to do a blog series about 6 months ago about training for the Rottnest Channel Swim in 2020. If you read that, you will know that the plan came to an abrupt end when I got the delightful news that my partner and I were pregnant...oops (but yay!!). So to keep you updated with my time in the pool, as well as the normal trials and tribulations and highs and lows of pregnant life while treating, I give to you....
The Pregnancy Files!
First time pregnancy is a bit of a shock to the system I think, most likely for every woman. Your body is changing so completely in a way that you have no control over. Your hormones and emotions may be running your life for you, again without you having much say in it. And then add on top of that working in a health professional role and there’s a whole other level of change that you have to adapt to.
Don’t get me wrong- there are definitely a lot of pros regarding working in a health role when you’re pregnant, especially as a physio who has worked in women’s health. I know exactly how important my pelvic floor is and even more importantly- how to do the dreaded exercise. I understand why my hips or lower back get sore and how to fix it. I’m aware of tricks and tips that can help make me more comfortable whilst sleeping or moving. And I realise the importance of resting when I’m feeling tired and not quite myself.
Knowing doesn’t always mean doing however and physios do tend to be their own worst patient. I still assume I can do what I always used to be able to do (I can’t) – such as simple things like demonstrating pilates moves (my demonstrations have decreased from 3reps to 1 rep as that’s often all I can manage!), getting up off the floor or out of bed (how do people NOT grunt performing these simple acts?!) and walking up the road (which I now realise is a hill that each day seems to incline further towards mountainous proportions) to get home.
My overall fitness is changing and decreasing and it’s something I still haven’t come to terms with. Fortunately, my role has forced me to stay active to a certain degree throughout my entire pregnancy so far. I have had to spend my entire shift on my feet either doing manual therapy techniques or taking clients through rehab/pilates moves. I have attended at least 1 pilates class every week and this is because I teach one pilates class a week. I teach with a ‘copy-me’ approach, which has been great for keeping me strong as well as allowed my patients to follow my moves even when the description coming out of my mouth makes no sense whatsoever (pregnancy brain is SO a thing).
Unfortunately, spending my entire day teaching and talking and treating/demonstrating means it’s far harder for me to hide how breathless I get and I’ve had to embrace the breathless/clumsy/make-no-sense-when-I-talk aspect of pregnancy.
I get asked often how long I’m planning on working for and before I was pregnant I always thought the answer to this was based on your exhaustion levels. Being in a physical role, there’s a totally different aspect I’ve had to consider which is more likely to make the decision for me and that’s how long I can get away treating with this extra growth attached to me. It’s starting to move past the funny stage of bopping people on the head with my tummy when I’m standing at the top of the treatment table towards a slightly creepier stage of constant tummy contact (can we have a disclaimer that mentions the high likelihood of my stomach touching some part of you whilst I attempt to reach and treat you?!). It’s also starting to get a bit uncomfortable for me as I adjust my body to try prevent the awkward touch which loads up my lower back a bit more than is good for me. Also there are a lot of rehab/pilates moves I’m now struggling to demonstrate as I simply cannot get into the position due to my ‘girth’, as Kate kindly calls it. Fatigue hasn’t even come back into the equation yet and I don’t think that’ll be the thing that causes me to stop treating first.
Ego plays a huge role as well, having chatted to other friends of mine who are pregnant and in a health professional role. I know I trust health professionals who emulate what they teach – I’m far more likely to trust a physio who looks strong and healthy than one who doesn’t. Ergo, not being able to perform certain strength or pilates moves that we used to do with such ease becomes embarrassing. Putting on weight, whilst completely normal, is still something that we’re aware of as we know all the advice to give to aid a client through a healthy pregnancy, which means we have to be doing the same and demonstrating that we’re staying healthy through our pregnancy. I know that ‘eating for two’ is not actually a thing however doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel like eating more than I should or foods I know I shouldn’t. Sometimes you just want to use that excuse of being pregnant but feel like you can’t as there are people watching.
Ego also comes in to play when it comes to your exercise regime. You know that you are fine to continue training the way you were before pregnancy (for the most part) however it is just not that simple. My body is tired, and slow, and I don’t want to lift weights. I don’t want to get in the pool and swim when I feel like I’m going backwards. If I can’t do it as well as I did it before, then my ego tells me not to do it. Or did anyway. Thankfully, I always get to the point where my body craves movement more than anything and so I’ve finally embraced getting back into the pool and just swimming a kilometre each session…and learning to be ok with that!
The hardest thing for any pregnant woman is learning to adjust to all the changes your body is going through during your pregnancy. The hardest thing for a pregnant woman who is also a health professional is learning to adjust to all the changes your body is going through in terms of allowing your ego to take a back seat and LETTING the changes happen. And not judging yourself harshly for them. It’s ok to slow down. It’s ok to be tired. It’s ok to not want to do what you did before you were pregnant. And it’s ok to sometimes know better and still ignore your own advice. It’s ok to not be perfect and do everything perfectly just because you know how to.
Do you have any aches or pains that you want to get checked out? Book in online here to see one of our Physio's today, or call us (08) 9448 2994.