Relaxin, a pregnancy hormone which is present up to five months after childbirth, increases the elasticity of connective tissue, muscles and ligaments. This particular hormone is secreted by the ovaries, placenta, and uterine lining throughout the entirety of the pregnancy. The hormone’s role is to relax the ligaments of the pelvis and to soften and dilate the cervix and vagina in the last trimester, close to the time of childbirth. In your early pregnancy, relaxin will also prevent contractions in the wall of the uterus, to stop premature childbirth. Relaxin also dilates a mothers blood vessels, helping her to regulate her cardiovascular and renal systems, by increasing blood flow to the placenta and kidneys. The hormone relaxes all other muscles throughout the body which increases the risk of over stretching ligaments, acute muscle spasming and compromises joints. Therefore, increasing your risk of muscular pain and strains. This hormone starts being secreted as soon as you fall pregnant and stays in your body up to 6 months following child birth.
Prolactin is the hormone produced in the body during pregnancy that will exist until breastfeeding is ceased. It is more commonly known for its role in milk production but can contribute to a variety of other post-partum symptoms such as behavioural changes and changes to metabolism and immune function. The presence of this hormone may also result in increased water retention, called oedema, which looks like swelling in parts of the body, more commonly the extremities.
Oxytocin is responsible for stimulating contractions during labour and promotes milk let down, bringing milk into the breast, during breastfeeding. This hormone also influences behavioural factors and the bond between the new mother and baby.
Oestrogen and Progesterone
The relationship between oestrogen and progesterone has many effects in the body of the expecting mother. At the start of pregnancy progesterone increases to allow the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, to ready itself to nourish the developing baby. During this time the hormone oestrogen is present in a smaller amount than progesterone, it will however increase throughout the pregnancy until reaching its peak, right before labour occurs. After the placenta is delivered progesterone quickly returns to its pre-pregnancy level while the high level of oestrogen continues to exist, making it the more dominant of the two hormones. This new balance is often the cause of heightened or uncharacteristic moods in a new mother, and can take time to resolve.
A soft tissue occupational therapist looks at the functioning of the soft tissue structures of the body in a client centred and holistic way. An experienced therapist will be able to help with reducing oedema, increasing muscle strength and improving muscle function.
Exercise Physiologists are experts in exercise prescription for the rehabilitation of pain and strains caused by post pregnancy hormones. Our exercise physiologists specialise in the treatment of abdominal separation (or diastasis recti) and the rehabilitation of women post pregnancy.
At Urban Health HQ our highly trained Soft Tissue Occupational Therapists and Exercise Physiologists will use a variety of approaches to help treat your injuries, conditions or any concerns you may have. You can make an appointment today by calling 0411 563 391.