Osteopathy & Physiotherapy for Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a unique and powerful experience where enormous physical, hormonal and emotional changes take place over a relatively short period of time. The body has to adapt to carrying up to 20lb of baby, waters and placenta, which can impose physical strain on all the organs and tissues.
Osteopathy can help with:
- Pregnancy and its physical discomforts
- The demands of labor
- Recovery of the mother after birth
Physiotherapy can help with:
- Pregnancy related Oedema (swelling of calf and ankles)
- Symphysis Pubic Pain (SPD) & Back pain associated with pregnancy
- Pre and Post natal exercise prescription
- Continence issues
Discomforts of Pregnancy
Aches and pains are common during pregnancy, as the body changes shape to accommodate the increasing size and weight of the uterus. This involves considerable changes to posture. If the mother has existing back problems, or strains in her body from past accidents or trauma, it may be more difficult for her to accommodate these changes and she may suffer more discomfort as a result.
The ligaments of the whole body soften during pregnancy due to the action of hormones. This allows the bones of the pelvis to seperate slightly during the delivery to facilitate the passage of the baby’s head through the pelvis. Unfortunately this softening affects the whole body and makes it more vulnerable to strain during the pregnancy.
Postural changes may cause backache, neck ache, headaches, sciatica, aching legs and undue fatigue.
Nausea and vomiting can cause debilitating physical strain in the diaphragm and ribs.
As the uterus expands it can stretch and squash the diaphragm contributing to heartburn.
Postural changes through the lower ribs and spine can impede the action of the diaphragm and make breathing difficult.
Tension within the pelvis or diaphragm area can increase resistance to the return of venous blood to the heart from the lower half of the body. This can cause or aggravate varicose veins in the legs, and haemorrhoids
Preparation for labor and position of the baby
As labor is likely to be more difficult if the baby is not lying correctly, it is worth trying to help them to move into a better position. The baby generally settles in a head downward position and facing backward with his spine curled in the same direction as his mother’s spine. This puts the baby in the most advantageous position for passing through the birth canal during labor.
As the baby grows and takes up more space within the abdomen there is less space for them to move about, and they will find their own preferred position. The mother’s posture has to adapt to accommodate the position of the baby, and if this conflicts with her own postural needs it may cause undue aches and pains. This is the reason that one pregnancy may be much more uncomfortable to carry than another.
An important part of preparation for childbirth is to ensure that the mother’s pelvis is structurally balanced and able to allow the passage of the baby down the birth canal.
Trauma to the pelvic bones, coccyx or sacrum at any time in a mother’s life can leave increased tension in muscles, and strains within the ligaments and bones of the pelvis. This can limit the ability of these bones to separate and move out of the way during labor, and thus limit the size of the pelvic outlet. Osteopathic treatment aims to release old strains within the pelvis, thus giving the best chance of an easy and uncomplicated labour.
Physiotherapy treatment helps more with controlling symptoms as a result of instability and mechanical issues associated with pregnancy.
Advice on breathing exercises can help during labour, while circulatory exercises help prevent complications of reduced mobility. Abdominal and pelvic floor exercises help to engage the muscles that are often stretched and weakened during pregnancy and therefore early awareness can help minimise or prevent post natal issues. Advice on comfortable sleeping postures can be very helpful in order to get the maximum rest prior to labour and birth.
The mother’s pelvis is vulnerable to lasting strains from the forces involved, particularly after a difficult delivery. Some of these strains can have a profound effect on the nervous system, and contribute to postnatal depression.
After giving birth, the body not only has to recover from the changes it made during pregnancy but also from the effects of delivery. All this whilst doing the very physically and mentally demanding job of caring for the new baby. Caring for a baby can place enormous strain on the back, during such activities as nursing in poor positions, lifting car seats especially in and out of the car, reaching over the cot, or carrying a child on one hip.
Unresolved childbirth stresses in the mother can contribute to ongoing back problems, period problems, stress incontinence, constipation, headache and more.
Osteopathic treatment aims to help the mother to return to normal, physically and emotionally, after birth by releasing strains from both pregnancy and labor. This allows her to relax and enjoy her new baby.
The baby can suffer long-lasting effects from the molding process during birth, and an osteopathic check up is recommended. See our page on Osteopathy for babies and children.
Are Osteopathy and Physiotherapy safe during Pregnancy?
Gentle osteopathic techniques are perfectly safe at all stages of pregnancy. The cranial osteopathic approach is a particularly gentle way of working with the body’s own natural mechanism for releasing and re-balancing tensions, without force.
Physiotherapy techniques are all adapted for use during pregnancy, are very gentle and have a stabilising effect using the bodies own muscles. Used in this way the techniques are very safe and coupled with advice on managing problems, can be a useful adjunct to pre natal care.
Naturopathy for Pregnancy
The planning and preparation for pregnancy is a very important time for couples. Optimum nutrition plays an essential part in fertility and your naturopath will help to ensure that any current health problems are resolved prior to conception.
As part of your pre-conceptual care your naturopath will assess the heath of the you and your partner and address your nutritional requirements and any factors affecting fertility through the use of herbal remedies or nutritional supplements. This will ensure a healthy, supportive environment for conception and pregnancy.
Pregnancy brings great changes to the female body, which may result in health concerns never encountered before. Naturopathic care provides a safe, gentle and effective form of treatment for conditions as wide-ranging as morning sickness, insomnia, heartburn, constipation, fluid retention, leg cramps, fatigue, stretch-marks, anxiety and depression. It also makes available the essential building blocks for the healthy development of the baby.
When the time comes, naturopathic remedies, usually in the form of herbal teas, can be given to help prepare for labour and birth. And of course your naturopath can be called upon to help with any post-natal issues such as breast-feeding, colicky baby, post-natal depression and weight-loss as well as the general health care of the whole family.