Women's Health

Women's Health


  1. Exercise during Pregnancy
  2. Core Muscles: Pelvic Floor, Transversus Abdominis, Multifides and Diaphragm
  3. Low Back Pain
  4. Sciatica
  5. Sacro-Iliac Joint Pain
  6. Pubic Symphysitis
  7. Rectus Diastasis
  8. Thoracic Spine and Rib cage pain
  9. Positions of comfort and body changes
  10. Massage
  11. Pilates
  12. SRC Shorts
  13. Pelvic Braces
  14. Posture Braces
  15. Women’s Waterworks Book


Most women are unsure if it’s ok to exercise during pregnancy. Is it safe? What if you didn’t do much exercise before you were pregnant? Unless you have complications, it is possible to enjoy regular exercise throughout your pregnancy. If you have previously not been particularly active, then pregnancy may be an ideal time to establish a healthy lifestyle that includes regular, moderately-gentle exercise.  The benefits of exercise in pregnancy are many –

  • Improves fitness, energy levels and stamina
  • Improves strength and posture
  • Prevents pregnancy-related injuries and pain
  • Promotes an overall sense of well-being
  • Improves mood and sleep patterns
  • Assists with weight control
  • Can help to reduce physical discomfort
  • May help reduce anxiety and stress

During pregnancy the body increases the level of the hormone Relaxin which acts on the ligaments to help soften them to allow the pelvis to grow with the baby. Ligaments throughout your body will also be relaxed too which means your joints can be looser and more susceptible to injury. Clinical Pilates at Your Health Domain is an effective way to improve core, upper body and postural strength, pelvic floor function, and flexibility, and we offer Clinical Pilates as individual and small group Ante-natal Exercise sessions.

Ante-natal Exercise classes run by a Physiotherapist can be claimed on HICAPS under a separate code. You will need to check with your individual health fund to see if you are eligible. Have a chat to one of the Your Health Domain Physiotherapists about starting Pilates today.

Fit-ball based exercise and hydrotherapy (exercise in the pool) are both great ways of improving fitness and postural strength whilst easing joint load – your physiotherapist can design a program for you suited to your needs. Resistance weight training is also effective but avoid free weights such as barbells and dumbbells – opt for circuit machines which give you postural support and are easier on the joints. Exercises that are suitable during pregnancy that are low-impact include walking, swimming, yoga, dancing, Tai Chi and Clinical Pilates.

Contact or high-intensity sports (horse-riding, mountain biking, netball, etc.) can put extra unnecessary strain on your joints and also put you at risk of falls.

Whatever exercise you choose, it is important to learn correct activation of your deep core muscles (that support your spine and your growing baby) and your pelvic floor muscles before you start any exercise program. Speak to the Your Health Domain Physiotherapists today.

Guidelines for Exercise during Pregnancy

  • Exercise at an intensity where you can still comfortably talk.
  • Avoid lying on your back to exercise after 6 months as the weight of the baby can restrict the return of blood to your heart and can cause you to feel faint.
  • Stretch gently due to the hormone Relaxin.
  • Avoid exercising in the heat: stay cool during exercise and wear appropriate clothing.
  • Ensure your energy and hydration levels are adequate by having nutritious snacks and plenty of water.
  • Prevent rapid changes in blood pressure and dizziness by moving slowly from lying to standing, etc. During the second trimester your body develops more blood vessels to supply the growing placenta and baby, and can cause your blood pressure to fall.

Exercise during pregnancy is not advised if you have –

  • High blood pressure
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Threatened premature labour
  • Pre-term ruptured membranes or leaking fluid
  • Dizziness, or unusual shortness of breath
  • Severe  joint pain or severe headache
  • Vaginal bleeding, or abdominal/uterine contractions
  • Sudden swelling of ankles, feet or hands

If any of these symptoms arise while exercising, STOP IMMEDIATELY and consult your Obstetrician. Always be guided by your Obstetrician as to what level of exercise you may undertake.


The core stabilizers include the pelvic floor, transversus abdominis, multifidus, and diaphragm.




Your pelvic floor is a sling of muscles that run from your pubic bone back to your tail bone and sideways from sit bone to sit bone – they form the “floor” of your pelvis. The role of the pelvic floor is to support all of our abdominal contents (bowel, bladder and uterus) and to stop urinary and faecal incontinence, and flatus. The pelvic floor has 3 openings in females (2 in males): the urethra, vagina and the anus. The pelvic floor muscles are normally thick and firm, and wrap tightly around each opening to keep them shut; both the urethra and anus have a muscular sphincter to assist this. When the pelvic floor muscles contract, the floor elevates and the urethral and anal sphincters close while the vagina wall draws up. The pelvic floor works with the abdominal “core muscles” to provide spinal and pelvic stability.

The pelvic floor can also push downwards, and depression of the pelvic floor causes more pressure on the openings, weakening the muscles and causing incontinence. Things that can increase the downward pressure are

  • Being pregnant
  • Childbirth
  • Straining on the toilet            
  • Chronic coughing
  • Heavy lifting
  • High impact exercise
  • Sit-ups or curl-ups
  • Chronic back pain
  • Being overweight
  • Increasing age

One in three women who have had a baby wet themselves.


Your Health Domain has experienced Physiotherapists who are qualified in assessment and retraining of Pelvic Floor function. Your Physiotherapist will design an appropriate pelvic floor exercise program for you to perform. Pelvic floor exercises are important for all women to practice at any stage of their life – and should be a life-long habit!


The transversus abdominis (TA) is a corset like muscle with horizontal fibers. It is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles running from one side of the spine, around the abdominal contents to the other and is the stabilizer. The “six pack” rectus abdominus and the obliques are the two outer layers that perform the twisting, bending and lifting movements of your torso. As your baby grows inside, your TA expands to support the weight and your spine. Learning how to activate your TA helps reduce the risk of a Rectus Diastisus (separation of the abdominal muscles).

How do I activate the Transversus Abdominis?

To activate this stabilizer, imagine you are putting on a pair of trousers that are just a little too tight around your lower tummy. Breathe in, breathe out, pause a moment, and while in pause, slowly and gently draw in your lower tummy as you would to help do up the button on your trousers. Hold this tension for 5-10 seconds while resuming a normal breathing pattern. Try this exercise when you are lying down, sitting up or standing. The more you practice gently holding in your lower abdomen, the more stable your spine will be. Your Physiotherapist can show you how to correctly perform this exercise.

Pilates is a great way to strengthen the TA muscle. Pilates uses a series of core strength exercises, postural exercises, and stretching to improve day to day function. Your Health Domain has individual and group sessions (maximum of 4 people). Call 9251 5111


The multifidus are small segmented back muscles that run down the spine. They control the spine tension allowing the segments to move without shearing or sliding. You can feel the outer multifidus muscles at the base of your lower back either side of your spine.


Think of your torso as a cylinder: the deep abdominal and back muscles transversus abdominis and multifidus form the walls, the pelvic floor is the floor, and the diaphragm is the roof. Often during pregnancy women can feel short of breath due to the growing baby. By concentrating on breathing using your ribcage and not your abdomen, you will allow the diaphragm to work more effectively allowing you to take a deeper breath. Place your hands either side of your lower ribcage: try and take a slow, deep breath in whilst feeling your ribcage expand sideways under your hands. You should be able to see minimal movement of your tummy. This is diaphragmatic breathing, and it is an effective relaxation technique when you are feeling short of breath. Try 2 sets of 5 slow breaths in and out keeping the shoulders relaxed.


Approximately 60% of women will experience low back pain during pregnancy, but the good news is that it largely resolves post-partum. Causes of low back pain include increase in body weight, the increase in laxity of the ligaments due to the rise in the hormone relaxin, the extra load and lengthening of the trunk muscles and the shift in the body’s centre of gravity. Including a program of core muscle, pelvic floor exercises and gluteal strengthening during your pregnancy will help strengthen the muscles around your lower back and pelvis. Massage, gentle manual therapy and stretching can also help with alleviating the pain. Speak to your Physiotherapist at Your Health Domain on how they can help.


Sciatica is a set of symptoms that include pain felt in the lumbar region and/or leg caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The irritation can be at any of the five nerve roots branching from the spinal cord that make up the sciatic nerve, or along the nerve itself which passes through the buttock area and extends down the leg. Sciatica can present as pain, numbness, pins and needles, weakness, reduced flexibility in the spine or leg, or difficulty in controlling the leg. As symptoms of sciatica can vary from person to person, it is important to know that the cause and therefore treatment will also vary. Speak to your Physiotherapist at Your Health Domain on how they can help.


The Sacroiliac Joint or “SIJ” is where the sacrum joins to the ilium (pelvis). The sacrum is the supportive wedge-shaped section of bone between the base of our spine and our coccyx (tail bone). We have two SIJs, one either side of the sacrum, and each SIJ is reinforced with strong ligaments. The role of the SIJ is to support the spine and allow the gentle rotational movement of our pelvis as we walk, run, or play sport.

SIJ pain, may be caused by inflammation within the joint, and is usually due to the joint being hypermobile (overly mobile) or hypomobile (stiffness). Pain will most commonly be felt on one side or down one leg. The abnormal function in the SIJs may cause lumbar, buttock, hamstring, or groin pain. The pain may be sharp or a dull ache and it may cause difficulty rolling in bed, getting out of the car, or putting on shoes and socks.

During pregnancy our bodies produce a hormone called relaxin which allows the ligaments to loosen up to allow room for the growing baby, and for during delivery. The SIJs often becomes hypermobile before, during and after pregnancy; in fact relaxin can stay in your body for up to 9 months after giving birth. If you are having any low back/pelvic or hip pain during or post pregnancy, speak to your Physiotherapist at Your Health Domain.


The Pelvis:

The pelvis is like a ring with two halves (see picture below: #2,3,4 right & left). It is joined at the back by the sacroiliac joints and sacrum (#1) and at the front by a stiff joint called the Pubic Symphysis (#5). This Pubic Symphysis (PS) joint is held together by ligaments and re-enforced by tendons of the stomach & inner thigh muscles.



Pubic Symphysitis:

To help the baby pass through your pelvis as easily as possible, your body produces hormones (such as relaxin) to soften the ligaments. As a result of this, the PS joint moves more during and after pregnancy. Pubic Symphysitis is when the PS becomes inflamed.

Pelvic pain can result from the pelvic girdle not working the way it should due to;

a) hormones or b) malalignment of the pelvis, or an interaction of both these factors.

As your size changes with the baby development, you can alter the way you recruit your muscles. Some women start overusing their inner thigh muscles which pulls more on the pubic bone.

When you stand on one leg your inner thigh muscles on one side and your buttock muscles on the opposite side work together to keep your pelvis level. If they are not working well or if one is dominating, you can get extensive shearing forces through the PS joint causing Pubic Symphysitis.

Symptoms can include:

  • Groin/inner thigh pain
  • Pubic bone / vulva pain
  • Clicking in the pelvis
  • Difficulty rolling in bed, dressing, & standing on one leg
  • Pain with walking/stair climbing
  • Disturbances in continence
  • Sciatica
  • Worsening symptoms by the end of the day and during the night.

What can physiotherapy at Your Health Domain do?

Assessment and treatment to correct your pelvis position through gentle techniques such as:

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Joint mobilization
  • Muscle energy techniques
  • Advice on correct movement patterns and posture
  • Advice and fitting of SRC Pregnancy and Recovery Shorts
  • We also have a great range of supportive belts or braces
  • Specific exercises to strengthen the back, abdomen, gluteal and pelvic floor muscles
  • Specific stretches to maintain normal joint range of motion

Pre-natal massage therapy is also available at Your Health Domain.

General Advice:

  • Ice packs to the pubic area may help
  • No excessive walking or stair climbing (or climb stairs one at a time when it is necessary)
  • Standi with your pelvis level and equal weight through feet: standing with feet apart in an A-frame may help this.
  • Drive with your seat close to the pedals
  • Sleep with a pillow between the knees & squeeze the knees together to roll in bed. Wearing a silky nightie may also assist rolling
  • When rising from a chair, squeeze your knees together, keep feet flat on the floor, and use your upper body to help push yourself up
  • Get into a car by putting your bottom in first, then gently squeeze knees and swing legs in
  • Avoid sitting cross-legged
  • Always sit to put on underwear & clothes
  • Respect the pain and minimize performance of the aggravating activities
  • START STRENGTHENING – ask your Physiotherapist today!!

Once the acute symptoms have resolved, regular massage throughout your pregnancy will also assist in relieving your symptoms further.


Pubic Symphysitis can occur at any time in your pregnancy. The large majority of women tend to notice the onset of symptoms in the 2nd or 3rd trimester (i.e. from 20 weeks onwards).

With treatment, symptoms can be resolved.




The rectus abdominis (six-pack muscle) is the outer layer of abdominal muscle. The two strap-like muscles run vertically from the ribcage down to the top of the pubic bone either side of the belly button.



During pregnancy, these muscles can separate, called a rectus diastasis, and can cause poor trunk muscle control or back pain. Your Physiotherapist either in the hospital or clinic can assess to see if there is a separation. Learning how to activate your deep abdominal muscle Transversus Abdominis during and after pregnancy decreases the risk of rectus diastasis. Doing sit-ups, crunches or heavy lifting can increase the risk.


The thoracic spine is a common area of pain for both pregnant women and new mothers. As the baby grows, the position of our spine can also change. The “S” curves in our spine can become more pronounced – the weight of the baby pulls our abdomen forwards which cause compression or pinching in our ribcage or between our shoulder blades. Postural positions during feeding and holding the baby can also stiffness and cause pain in the thoracic spine and ribcage. Your Physiotherapist at Your Health Domain can show you some stretches and movement techniques to help, as well as doing massage and mobilizations to ease the pain.






As your body changes through the stages of pregnancy you may find certain positions become uncomfortable. You will notice that you may stay the same size one week, and then grow rapidly the next. Sitting, standing, sleeping and walking positions can all be potential causes of discomfort. Using pillows between the knees or under the belly while sleeping on your side helps to keep your spine and pelvis in neutral. Ensure when sitting at your desk your chair is giving you adequate lumbar and ribcage support; avoid sitting with crossed legs or turning to one side. Speak to your Physiotherapist at Your Health Domain about the best positions for you.


During your pregnancy, there will be many physical and emotional changes. The body has to adjust to a laxity of the ligaments, extra weight and a shift in the centre of gravity as well as changes to the circulatory, respiratory and muscular systems.

Massage is a beautiful, natural therapy which can relieve many of the physical ailments often not alleviated by traditional medicines, as well as minimising the negative effects of stress on you and your baby.

Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

  • Improves circulation, enhancing supply of nutrients and oxygen around the body.
  • Reduces lymph pooling around the feet and ankles.
  • Reduces muscular tension and pain.
  • Promotes relaxation, minimising the negative effects of stress on the mother and baby.
  • Enhances the mother’s body awareness during pregnancy and birth.
  • Improves respiratory function.

AMT Journal August 2009

 What to Expect during your Pregnancy massage at Your Health Domain:

Your Massage Therapist will first devise a therapy plan according to you, your stage of pregnancy, body responses and any relevant information specific to your pregnancy. 

Your Therapist will take a little extra time to position you comfortably for the massage which may be side-lying with pillows to support the belly, lying in one of our specially designed belly pillows or in a semi-reclining position. They will also use extra towels or a blanket to make sure you are comfortably covered.

The main areas of the body the Massage Therapist will work on are the back, pelvis, neck, feet and legs. We can also massage the belly or show you how to do so. It is safe and is a great way to settle the baby in the womb.

The pressure is generally softer and the massage strokes gentle and slow. All of the work done on specific body systems, is relaxing and the mothers quite often fall asleep.


Frequently asked questions:

At what stage of my pregnancy can I start having massage?

It is safe to have regular massage throughout your entire pregnancy.

How often should I have a massage?

In order to maximise results, it is recommended at least once a month in your 1st and 2nd trimesters. Then fortnightly to weekly in your 3rd trimester as this is when you are feeling the main effects of your pregnancy. Naturally this varies from mother to mother. Your Therapist will assist in creating the best treatment plan for you and your baby.

Do I need to be referred by my Doctor?

No, Massage Therapists are first contact practitioners however we will liaise with your GP or Obstetrician if you would like us to or if the need arises.

For more information about the benefits of Massage during Pregnancy, read this article by our experienced Massage Therapist Zuzana Dzurmanova: Pregnancy Massage at Your Health Domain 


Our Therapists:

Zuzana Dzurmanova

Dip. Remedial Massage (Nature Care College, 2011, including a certificate in Pre-natal)

Virginie Guilloux

Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Postgraduate Certificate in Analytical Physiotherapy, Diploma Remedial Massage, Dry Needling

Denise Goulding

Diploma Remedial Massage

Sunbok Kyra Oh

Diploma Remedial Massage and Dipolma Sports Massage

Our Massage Therapists specialize in the following types of massage: Remedial, Pregnancy, Sports, Trigger Point and Relaxation. They are committed to the ongoing health and well-being of their clients by assisting them in achieving optimal health and emotional balance.

Our Massage Therapists work very closely with the Your Health Domain Physiotherapy team, so if required, you can be referred on to one of our Physiotherapists for treatment of specific pregnancy-related problems such as pubic symphysitis, lower back pain and incontinence. Your Physiotherapist will also give you advice on stretching and exercising safely during your pregnancy.

Our therapists are recognized by all major Private Health Insurers.

Hicaps is available for immediate health fund rebates on our Massage and Physiotherapy services.


Your Health Domain offers individual and small group sessions of Clinical Pilates, all conducted by an experienced Physiotherapist. Pilates focuses on improving core strength, flexibility, posture and general well-being. Pilates includes mat-based exercises, as well as using a reformer, pulleys, bands, and balls. We have specially designed pregnancy support pillows to allow you to complete the sessions throughout your pregnancy.

Some Health Funds now have Women’s Health Physiotherapy item codes available for claiming such as 595 Ante-natal Exercise Class and 593 Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy. Check with your health fund first and then call 9251 5111 to book in with one of our Physiotherapists.


Your Health Domain are preferred suppliers and fitters of SRC garments. SRC stands for Support, Recovery and Comfort. There are 3 types: Pregnancy Shorts, Pregnancy Leggings, and Recovery Shorts. Pregnancy Shorts and Pregnancy Leggings sit just under your growing belly, are designed to be worn during your pregnancy to help with pain reduction, increase pelvic/back support and increase mobility and pelvic muscle function.

Recovery shorts are designed to be worn after delivery of your baby and have extra material to cover your stomach and sit just under your bra-line. They are designed to speed up your recovery following pregnancy by supporting your abdomen.

How do SRC Pregnancy Compression Shorts and Leggings work?

The gentle compression promotes supporting pressure to the pelvis and stimulates the underlying muscles to remain active to assist in making the pelvic joints more stable. The reinforced gusset design (patent pending) allows maximum support to the perineum (area between your legs) reducing symptoms of vulval varicosities and incontinence.

Who do SRC Pregnancy Compression Shorts help?

Women who have

  • Pregnancy related lower back pain
  • Pelvic Instability and Pelvic girdle pain (PGP)
  • Varicose veins and vulval varicosities
  • Symptoms of incontinence and Pelvic Floor problems
  • Women with mobility and stability issues
  • Women wanting to continue working and/or exercising during pregnancy

If you are looking for a compression garment that also provide support to the thighs and lower leg area SRC Pregnancy compression leggings can help.

How do SRC Recovery Shorts work after having my baby?

 The gentle compression promotes supporting pressure to the pelvis, back and abdominal muscles improving your mobility and will help you regain your pre-baby body shape. Gentle compression from the unique SRC garment technology fabric stimulates the core abdominal muscles, facilitating muscle recovery. This is not possible if you choose a corset, girdle, or rigid support garment. From day 1 you can be confident in the knowledge that your SRC recovery shorts are doing their job even when you’re not active.

 Who do SRC Recovery Shorts help?

- Women wanting to regain their pre-baby body shape
- C-section or perineal trauma recovery
- Abdominal separation (diastasis of the rectus abdominus muscle)
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence post-delivery
- Women requiring additional support for mobility and stability issues

Mobility is the key to recovery. SRC recovery shorts allow easier mobilization post-delivery and makes lifting, feeding, bathing and caring for your baby much easier. SRC recovery shorts fit like a second skin, the gentle compression helps you get mobile sooner after both a vaginal or C-section delivery by facilitating faster central fluid loss and swelling.

What is special about SRC garments?

Reduce pain and provide supportSRC compression garments provide gentle compression to a wound area. Whether you have C-section delivery or stitches/tears to the perineum the SRC Recovery Shorts reduce wound tension and promote a much faster and safer recovery. 

Specialised fabric construction technology

 SRC Compression Shorts feature a proprietary luxurious fabric and breathable power mesh lining which are designed and tested specifically for SRC garments. These high performance fabric panels are cut in multiple planes to provide multi-directional stretch performance which means that SRC compression garments retain their stretch and strength characteristics longer than leading sports performance brands.

Anatomic support panels

Anatomically designed and manufactured to fit the female anatomy and work with natural curves and muscle orientation. The anatomical placement of these support panels ensures consistent gentle medical grade compression while providing structure to the garment for exceptional fit and maximum support without any feeling of restriction.

Do you have Private Health Insurance?

Some private health insurers will provide a rebate on your SRC pregnancy shorts as they are considered medical compression garments. Once you have purchased your product, ask your Physiotherapist to sign a rebate letter and send this along with your invoice to your insurer. Please check with your health fund for eligibility and specific requirements (rebates may vary from $0 to $160).


 SRC shorts


Your Health Domain supply various types of low back, sacro-iliac and pelvic braces which are suitable for giving that extra bit of support whilst sitting at the desk, or for more demanding times such as exercise. The braces are designed to maintain correct alignment and to help alleviate your low back or pelvic pain. Speak to your Physiotherapist at Your Health Domain to see which is suitable for you.



Your Health Domain are suppliers of Swedish Posture Braces Mother which are braces that provide support to parents carrying heavy loads during pregnancy and nursing or experiencing imbalanced strain. Do you find yourself slouching or walking with your belly up front? Does carrying heavy loads during and after pregnancy making your back turn into an “S”? Before you dismiss posture as one of those pregnancy realities you don’t have time or energy for, think again! Your Physiotherapist is here to help.

 As a mother, you are carrying a heavy load – all the time! The added weight, new proportions of the pregnant body or frequent carrying of your baby can lead to poor posture and back discomforts. A good posture can boost your energy levels and at the same time, make you feel better and look better. Swedish Posture Mother is the perfect aid for parents who are carrying heavy loads, mothers who are experiencing strain due to the weight of a growing baby, mothers who adopt poor postures whilst nursing their baby, or others who needs to realign their bodies. Swedish Posture Mother reminds your body of how a correct posture feels.

posture braceposture allingmentmum


One in three women who ever had a baby wet themselves . . . But the good news is - Incontinence can be cured.

“Womens Waterworks – Curing Incontinence” is an easy to read book written by Pauline Chiarelli, PhD to help patients overcome this most embarrassing of life’s problems.




A third of all women suffer bladder control problems and around half of all women in nursing homes are there primarily because their incontinence is unmanageable at home.

The good news is, incontinence can be cured or greatly reduced at any age! By following a simple pelvic floor exercise program, you can regain control and never again suffer its embarrassment.

Practice Principal Emma Gillingham and Senior Physiotherapist Claire Shield are both qualified in assessment and retraining the Pelvic Floor. Speak to your Physiotherapist today. 


pilates timetable



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Pitt St. City Practice

Level 7 60 Pitt Street Sydney 2000
Hours of Operation:
Mon - Fri 7:30am - 6:00pm
(02) 9251-5111

King Street Practice

Fitness First - The Zone / 94 King Street Sydney 2000
Hours of Operation:
Mon - Fri 7:30am - 6:00pm
(02) 9251-5111