Research shows that seventy percent of pregnant woman suffer back/pelvic pain whilst pregnant. For thirty percent this can be debilitating. As it is so common there is the frequent misconception that it is a normal side effect of being pregnant and there is not much that women can do to ease it. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Osteopaths treat pain and a pregnant woman is no exception to this rule. Pregnancy is a very physical experience. Over a period of nine months the mother has to adapt to carrying up to 20lbs of baby, placenta and waters on her front. This is equivalent to ten bags of sugar. The mother’s whole body has to adapt to carrying this large mass. This creates a dramatic change in the mothers’ posture, which can impose physical strain on the body. This is especially true if the mother’s body is physically tight. To an osteopath a body must have the ability to adapt to necessary changes. This means being free of tensions and strains.
Our bodies are rarely perfect and over the years we accumulate stresses and strains. This sometimes starts with physical trauma of our own birth and continues with childhood accidents, operations that may leave inflexible scar tissue, whiplash and not forgetting the effect of emotional stress and trauma too. Usually we are completely unaware that these stresses are present in our body, as our body is very adept at adapting and compensating. This enables us to continue with our daily lives with seldom more than an occasional ache. However pregnancy can affect this balance as enormous physical, chemical and emotional changes take place over a comparatively short period of time. As soon the body needs to adjust to a large change, such as a change in posture, then these tensions and strains can prevent it from happening. This will result in areas of the body becoming stiff and painful.
Women who are pregnant in their late thirties and forties can find themselves in more discomfort. This is because as a person ages the ability of the body to adapt easily, decreases. This is due to a number of factors including the increasing wear and tear in joints and the decreasing elasticity of muscles and ligaments.
Osteopathic treatment during pregnancy can be beneficial to ease the physical discomforts and to prepare the body for labour. Osteopaths help to assist a pregnant woman’s body to adopt the ideal posture. It involves gentle manual techniques – easing pain, reducing swelling and improving mobility. This can help ease the other side effects of pregnancy such as heartburn, constipation and pain in the buttock, groin or leg. The most common places for pregnant women to feel discomfort is in their low back, groin, coccyx and pubic bone.
Here are my six top useful tips for any pregnancy to decrease the strain on your body:
1.Look after your back during pregnancy. Take care when lifting or carrying especially if looking after other young children. Try not to carry a young child on one arm or hip as this may lead to repetitive strain injuries. Instead alternate between your right and left sides.
2. Try not to lift when bending forward and twisting at the same time, as your back is extremely vulnerable in this position. Instead try to bend your knees.
3. If you have to stand for any length of time, keep your bottom ‘tucked in’ as this lengthens your spine and reduces the strain on your low back.
4. When sitting try to keep the curve in your low back by placing a support in the small of your back. This not only protects your low back but can also encourage the baby to lie in the optimal position for birth). Don’t sit with your legs crossed as this could create a rotational torsion through your pelvis.
5. When lying on your side, place a pillow under ‘the bump’ to give your abdomen support. Also try to put a pillow between your knees as this keeps your pelvis straight and therefore more stable.
6. If you are comfortable lying on your back start with your knees bent. This allows your low back to relax. Placing a pillow under your knees to sleep will also keep your low back relaxed.
About the author
Victoria uses a variety of osteopathic treatment methods but specialises in cranial osteopathy. Her main passion is treating the musculo-skeletal problems associated with pregnancy and post natal women. She also has substantial experience working with babies and children and now that she is a mother to three young children she can fully empathise with parents and understands just how challenging it can be.