Osteopathy for Pregnancy Pain
Pregnancy leads to the largest postural change your body will undergo, and unfortunately it can cause a whole range of symptoms from back pain to morning sickness. In pregnancy the body has to adapt to carrying up to 20lb. of baby, waters and placenta as well as coping with hormonal, chemical and emotional changes.
Osteopathic Treatment in Pregnancy
If before the pregnancy the woman’s body is already affected by previous strains from trauma, poor posture or lifestyle factors, the changes of pregnancy are likely to impose greater physical strain. By releasing these pre-existing stresses and strains, osteopathic treatment enables it to adapt more successfully to the changes of pregnancy.
Osteopathic treatment during and after pregnancy can be beneficial in a number of ways:
- Easing some of the physical discomforts of pregnancy.
- Preparing for the demands of labour.
- Helping the mother to recover after birth.
Osteopathic treatment can help your body adapt, easing aches and pains, and it can also help to ease other side effects of pregnancy such as heartburn, indigestion and constipation, haemorrhoids and varicose veins. Some patients also report reduced morning sickness after osteopathic treatment. Your osteopath will also advise you on your posture and how to use your body correctly through pregnancy.
As the baby grows, its extra weight results in a changed centre of gravity and the mother’s posture changes from week to week. The hormone relaxin encourages ligaments to lengthen. Together these changes can lead to back ache, neck pain, headaches, sciatica and groin pain, especially if there are pre-existing strains in your body.
Towards the end of pregnancy, the baby generally settles into a head downward position, facing backward. This puts the baby in the most advantageous position for passing through the birth canal during labour. If the baby is not correctly positioned, it is worth trying to help it to move into a better position. Osteopathic treatment to ensure that the pelvis and uterus are correctly aligned can often help the baby turn.
Symphis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)
This is pain at the pubic symphysis, the joint at the front of the pelvis. The pain is usually aggravated by walking and turning over in bed. It may be central, or more to one side than the other, and can vary from mild discomfort, to being extremely painful and restrictive. In some cases it will resolve after the birth, but it may continue for several weeks or even months.
SPD may be caused by changes to the symphysis pubis due to the hormone relaxin which allows the ligaments to lengthen in preparation for the birth. And it may also be due to the postural changes which accompany pregnancy.
While osteopathic treatment during pregnancy can help to alleviate the pain of SPD, it is important that you manage it yourself by avoiding movements, positions and activities which aggravate the pain. In some cases the mother may be helped by the provision of braces, supports or crutches.
Osteopathic treatment, post-natally may help to reduce pain and speed recovery by ensuring that the pelvis is properly balanced as the ligaments shorten in the months following the birth of your baby.
Self Help Tips to Encourage Your Baby to Lie Correctly
- Try to keep as active as possible throughout the pregnancy.
- ‘Walk tall’, pushing your head upwards as if suspended by a string. Do not allow your lower back to slump into a very hollow position.
- Sitting slouched in soft chairs encourages the baby to turn into the back to back position. Where possible, sit with your bottom well back in the chair and the lower back supported. Better still, sitting on a foam wedge, or on a chair that has a seat that tilts forward, actively encourages the baby to lie correctly.
- If your baby is lying in either a breech or back to back position, then spending some time each day in an ‘all fours’ position can help it to turn.
Your osteopath will also prepare you for labour, by restoring the balance between your muscles and good pelvic function. He or she will also advise you on positions for labour which will ease delivery and prevent problems developing later. Pain relief techniques can also be shown to the mother and her partner or friend so that they can help during labour. After delivery it is advised that mother and child return for a check up and if necessary, for treatment.