Pregnancy can be a joyful experience but does bring with it many stresses and strains to the body as baby grows and posture changes. Then once baby arrives, a whole other set of stresses and strains arises as the mother learns to cope with caring for a newborn on very little sleep, whilst recovering from the birth and having very little time for self care. The postural adaptions that occur during pregnancy, after birth and whilst breastfeeding can precipitate various levels of discomfort and pain in the mothers body – most commonly back pain. Other pregnancy complaints include rib pain, pelvic girdle pain, neck pain, headaches, sciatica, plantar fasciitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Pain in pregnancy and beyond is a sign that your body is struggling to cope with the physical demands being placed on it by the growing foetus, growing breast tissue and the increase in ligament laxity throughout the body as it prepares for birth. Once baby arrives a sudden decrease of daily activity levels with lots of sitting breastfeeding (sometimes in awkward positions due to stitches) and lack of mobility can also impact the body. It is important to note that whilst some cramping like pain is normal during pregnancy, if abdominal pain becomes severe or is accompanied by other symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, headaches, blurred vision, convulsions, fever or difficulty breathing to seek medical help immediately.
How can osteopathy help?
Despite these many challenges women face, there is no reason to suffer in pain or discomfort during pregnancy and into the newborn phase. Osteopathy can help and is a safe and gentle form of manual therapy that can help alleviate some of the discomfort in pregnancy and beyond caused by postural and ligamentous adaptions and the stresses of labour. There are a number of different techniques that osteopaths use such as massage, myofascial stretching, manipulation, and articulation of joints. A treatment program will also include various stretching and strengthening exercises that are tailored to the individual patient’ needs and means that the patient can very much be a part of their own self care.
Preparation for labour
Osteopathy can be used not only to treat the niggles the pregnancy brings, but also to benefit women preparing for labour. The osteopath will examine a patient’s spine and pelvis, and implement techniques to ensure that the pelvic bones and muscles are aligned and balanced, providing optimum conditions for positioning, descent, and passage of the baby through the birth canal during delivery. Osteopaths regularly teach breathing techniques, stretches, and exercises that women can do throughout pregnancy to help with the delivery and encourage overall health and wellbeing.
They can also help new mothers to recover from the birth and postural strains gained throughout pregnancy, and to deal with the stresses of caring for a new baby. Following a vaginal delivery, osteopaths can check that the pelvis and supporting tissues have returned to normal alignment, and treat any strains to the pelvis and low back which may have occurred during delivery. A well aligned pelvis can provide the best platform for the pelvic floor muscles to heal post-delivery.
Feeding your newborn
Feeding a newborn can also takes it toll on the mothers body, and breastfeeding mothers will also notice an increase to the breast tissue as milk comes in, which can often lead to increased strain in the upper back and neck as the shoulders become more internally rotated. Osteopathy can help to combat these strains in the upper extremity and provide gentle exercises to strengthen and realign the posture.
No need for referral!
The great thing about choosing to see an osteopath for treatment during pregnancy and beyond is that you do not need a referral from your GP and you can often get an appointment to see an osteopath within days rather than weeks.
Feel free to contact me to discuss your condition and see how osteopath may be of benefit to you and the arrival of your little one.