Osteopathy and Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting yet worrying time. You’ve barely come to terms with the miracle of life now growing inside you when you’re brought down to earth by all of those “side-effects”. Pregnancy produces the largest postural and hormonal change that a woman’s body will undergo, and this can result in a very wide variety of aches and pains.

Just as you need your body to strengthen to manage the increased weight of the baby and amniotic fluid, you produce the hormone relaxin, which loosens your ligaments! This is necessary to allow the pelvis to expand during child-birth, but has the unfortunate effect of increasing the workload of your muscles and joints, which can become very painful. The areas hit the hardest tend to be your low back, pelvis and hips.

The extra weight at the front also causes you to arch your back and neck to compensate. This exacerbates the low back problems, sometimes irritating nerves and causing leg pain (sciatica), and can also result in neck pain and headaches. Sometimes the strain on the sacro-iliac joints and conditions such as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) can make walking painful and difficult.

If you previously had a desk-based job, perhaps spending lots of time at the computer or on the phone, your upper back will tend to be relatively stiff and immobile. This puts even more strain on your low back and neck as your body tries to accommodate the growing baby.

To add insult to injury, as the baby fills your abdomen and presses on your stomach, circulating oestrogen relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter, forcing gastric juices out of the stomach and causing heartburn (gastro-oesophageal reflux, GOR).

The effects of these changes carry through after childbirth, and many new mums get very frustrated that they still suffer from low back and pelvis pain, and this can detract from the joy of having a new member of the family. In addition, you may now be suffering from mid-back pain and aching arms from supporting your baby whilst feeding. At a time when all of the focus and all of your energy is now on your new baby, please don’t ignore your own needs. Please don’t just put up with your pain. Help is out there!

Osteopaths have a great deal of experience treating women during and after pregnancy. Osteopathic treatment and postural advice at this time is a wonderfully gentle way of helping the body adapt to these changes, thus helping to ease those aches and pains.

Rest assured that the safety of mother and baby is the osteopath’s first concern, and a thorough assessment is always carried out before any treatment is considered.