Pregnancy and particularly the birthing of a new person into being, is a life changing experience for both parents. Although it is a natural process and part of a normal life cycle, each pregnancy is a unique experience. The mother’s body experiences a myriad of physical, chemical, hormonal and emotional changes.
The growing baby inside the uterus, requires that the mother’s body makes space and that her posture adapts. Each woman responds differently, depending on her previous history. Past pregnancies and accidents may have affected the mechanical workings of the spine, pelvis and coccyx, whilst illnesses may have a bearing on the tissue state of the body. These factors, plus the natural loosening of the ligaments in preparation for birth, may lead to aches, pains and fatigue.
How Osteopathy can help:
- To ease some of the discomforts of pregnancy.
- To help with optimal foetal positioning.
- To help prepare the mother’s body for the demands of labour.
Discomforts of Pregnancy – First Trimester:
Nausea and Vomiting (morning sickness): Osteopathy may help to release the debilitating physical strains caused by vomiting, restoring musculoskeletal harmony and balance. Helping the body to improve circulation to and from the liver may help reduce nausea.
Discomforts of Pregnancy – Second Trimester:
This is generally potentially the least troublesome trimester, though some of the third trimester issues may arise.
Aches and Pains: These can occur as the body changes shape to accommodate the increasing size and weight of the uterus, involving considerable postural changes. Pre-existing back problems or strains from past accidents or trauma can make it more difficult to accommodate these changes, resulting in discomfort. Hormones encourage the ligaments to soften during pregnancy in preparation for the birth, when the bones of the pelvis separate slightly during delivery to facilitate passage of the baby’s head through the pelvis. This softening happens throughout the whole body, making it more vulnerable to strain during pregnancy.
Poor Posture: This can be a cause of headache, backache, neckache, aching legs and undue fatigue during pregnancy. Osteopathy can be helpful in assisting the body to make postural changes, making the pregnancy more comfortable.
Discomforts of Pregnancy – Third Trimester:
Heartburn (indigestion): The expansion of the uterus can put pressure on the diaphragm, contributing to heartburn. Osteopathy can help to encourage a sense of space around between the structures to reduce this tension and may relieve the heartburn.
Breathing Difficulties: Postural changes through the lower ribs and spine can affect the action of the diaphragm, making breathing more challenging. Osteopathy to improve function of the whole ribcage may help to increase available lung capacity.
Varicose Veins and Haemorrhoids: These can be caused or aggravated by increased tension in the pelvis or diaphragm area affecting the return of venous blood to the heart from the lower half of the body. Osteopathy to relieve tension in the pelvis and diaphragm may be helpful.
Optimal Foetal Positioning: As the birth approaches, with reducing space to move around, the baby needs to be in the optimum position for delivery, ideally head down and facing backwards. Any past trauma to the pelvis, sacrum or coccyx may distort the birth canal potentially affecting the baby’s decent, so it is helpful to release these strains.
Structural Balance: Ensure that the pelvis is structurally balanced to enable passage of baby down the birth canal. Osteopathy can help release past strains within the pelvic bones, muscles and ligaments, aiming for better chance of the bones being able to separate during delivery.
Exercises: (best learnt under guided instruction)
- Spend time on all 4s with a straight back to encourage optimal foetal positioning and relieve low back
- Warrior yoga pose to help release iliopsoas muscle; to relieve low back and enable descent in second stage
- Frog yoga pose to gently prepare for opening the pelvis
- Keep active, walk tall, avoid slouching on the couch
- If low back is over-arching, bring the weight slightly toward the heels to help encourage straightening the low back
We are happy to advise you on your health matters and offer a free 15 minute joint and spinal check, without obligation.
Lin Bridgeford DO KFRP MICAK MICRA FSCCO MSc
Registered Osteopath & Kinesiologist & Senior Yoga Teacher
Master Hypnosis and NLP Practitioner
Aether Bios Clinic