Osteopathy and Pregnancy
Pregnancy and Your Osteopath
Pregnancy is a unique experience. As Osteopaths we know that considerable physical, chemical and emotional changes take place over a relatively short period of time. Your body has to adapt to carrying on average an extra 12.5 kg of baby, waters and placenta, and this can place quite a lot of physical strain on your organs, joints, muscles and other tissues. This sometimes creates various kinds of pain and discomfort and, in short, we are here to support you through the process.
Osteopathy for Optimal Pre-natal Care
As your body changes shape to accommodate the increasing size and weight of your baby, there are considerable changes to your posture. If you had an existing back problem, or strains from past accidents or trauma, it can be more difficult to accommodate these changes, and as a result you can suffer more discomfort. We take this into account in our assessment and treatment.
We assess you from top to toe and aim to predict where the problems are likely, so as to eliminate them before they become a problem. Our goal is to help you avoid pain and discomfort in so far as we can.
Treatment aims to help your body to make postural changes easily and can make pregnancy much more comfortable.
Lots of women find osteopathic treatment helpful throughout their pregnancy for pain reduction and preparation for labour.
Very many of the changes in your body are normal, and occur to help you to feed and support the growing baby.
It is normal for the ligaments throughout your body soften during pregnancy due to the action of hormones. This allows for the bones of the pelvis to separate slightly during the delivery to facilitate the passage of the baby's head through the pelvis. However, this softening affects the whole body and can make it more vulnerable to strain during the pregnancy.
Osteopathic treatment is helpful in assisting the body to make postural changes easily and makes the pregnancy much more comfortable.
It is normal to expect an increase in your heart rate, and normal for the growing baby to push up against your "thoracic diaphragm", which can make you quite breathless. Similarly, pressure on the stomach and diaphragm often result in reflux (indigestion). We see this commonly in the clinic and use gentle hands-on techniques that we find can help.
Most of your gain in weight will happen in the second half of pregnancy - and what people often don't realise is that it is not unusual to lose a little weight as you come to the end of pregnancy!
There is no need to worry about common and normal symptoms. Two of our Osteopaths have a special interest in pregnancy, and find Osteopathy to be really helpful. With gentle hands-on techniques we can help with lower back pain and sacro-iliac joint pain, which are so common. We can also help with pain in the hips and pelvis.
It is absolutely normal to expect an increase in the size of your ribcage, and for your shoulders and chest to broaden. As a result, experiencing pain in or between your shoulders, your upper back or one or more ribs can result, and there are specific, gentle osteopathic techniques that can give lots of relief.
Osteopathic Treatment in Pregnancy helps with:
- Aches and pains (back pain, neck and shoulder pain, muscular tension)
- Groin, lower abdominal pain or pubic symphysis pain
Our Two Osteopaths with a Special Interest in Treating through Pregnancy also:
- Provide advice on stretches and exercise you can do to maintain your health and wellbeing throughout your pregnancy
- Help prepare ‘the way’ for a more trouble free childbirth, by improving flexibility in the pelvis and abdomen
- Help you to recover after birth
To prepare for Labour
Osteopaths can not only help to relieve some of the common symptoms of pregnancy, we can also help the labour and delivery to go smoothly. We do this by helping your pelvis to move freely, which allows your birth to progress smoothly, and we also help with Optimal Foetal Positioning, which encourages your baby to present in a "left occiput anterior" position. This allows for a mechanically easier birth for you and your baby.
A Note about Exercise in Pregnancy
As it is perfectly normal for the heart (and in fact the whole vascular system) to work harder, as it has more blood to pump around the body - two bodies in fact - it is perfectly normal to experience some racing of the heart. Some women get anaemia (known as "physiological anaemia", because once again it is perfectly normal) and it is usual to be less up to heavy exercise. This is one reason why it is neither normal nor necessarily healthy to try to start - or try to maintain - heavy exercise at any stage of pregnancy. Mild or moderate exercise can be good for you, but we advise against heavy exercise.
So if you are already used to a moderate degree of exercise then continuing with this and also doing some gentle stretches is fine. Heavy or intense exercise is out. Your body and heart have a lot of extra demands on them, so it is important to listen to your body and respond sensibly. Pilates and Yoga are good if done correctly: make sure that your technique is good and get proper advice from an Instructor if needed.
After the birth
The job of caring for a new baby can place enormous strain on certain areas of your body. Neck and back pain can be caused by many things including breast-feeding position, carrying awkwardly, lifting car capsules and prams and reaching over the cot. Osteopathy can assist you with these aches and pains by assessing and treating any structural imbalances as well as offer you advice on exercises and pain prevention. Osteopathy can also help with coccyx pain and in this clinic we have found that in some instances it can help with depression.