Pregnancy can be a difficult time physically. Osteopathic treatment can be used safely and effectively during and after pregnancy to help you through the challenges.

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A baby together with its waters and placenta can weigh up to 20 lb. Your body has to adapt to carrying this whilst undergoing significant hormonal changes and, towards the end of pregnancy, preparing for birth. Previous injuries to the low back and pelvis can hamper the body’s ability to adapt and restrict the birth canal from opening during labour. Osteopathic treatment can help to release strains and tensions from these past injuries and assist the body in responding to the demands of pregnancy and give the best chance of an easy and uncomplicated birth.

Self-Help tips to encourage your baby to lie in a good position:

  • Try to keep as active as possible within your pain limits. Avoid activities that make the pain worse.
  • Keep an eye on your posture. Try not to let your low back drop into too much of an arch when you are standing and walking. Imagine that your head is being pulled up gently by a string attached to the top of your head.  Avoid slouching in soft chairs. This can encourage your baby to turn into the back-to-back position which makes birth more difficult. It can be useful to sit with your low back supported by a cushion or to tilt your pelvis forwards slightly with a foam wedge.
  • If you have been told that your baby is lying in a breech or back-to-back position, then spending some time each day in an ‘all fours’ position can help it to turn.

 

What is Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) & symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)?

Pelvic pain is common in pregnancy. Osteopathic treatment can help by addressing imbalances in the spine and sacrum which exacerbate this pain. I can also give you advise about which activities to avoid which, together with some gentle exercises to do at home, will help to make your pregnancy more comfortable.

The term pelvic girdle pain (PGP) encompasses pain arising from dysfunction in either the sacroiliac joints at the back of the pelvis or the pubic symphysis joint at the front. Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) has become a less commonly used term and more specifically refers to pain on or around the joint between the two pubic bones at the front of the pelvis.

What happens to the pelvis during pregnancy?

Normally we rely on our pelvis to be stable and effective in transferring loads between our lower limbs and spine. During pregnancy the body produces a hormone called relaxin as well as increasing its secretion of progesterone which loosens the ligaments (the tough, flexible tissues that connect your bones) around your joints and particularly in your pelvis. This is a normal part of your body’s preparation for labour and helps your baby pass through your pelvis during birth but it does mean that your joints move more during and just after pregnancy, making the pelvis less stable. Pelvic pain is particularly likely if one side of the pelvis is more unstable than the other or if the pelvis is tilted too far forwards. Other factors that increase the risk of PGP are previous low back or pelvic pain, previous injury to the pelvis, hypermobility and having a physically demanding job.

What does PGP feel like?

PGP is often one-sided but may move from one side to the other. It is often accompanied by pain in the buttocks, low back, hips and thighs. One or both of the legs may feel weak with difficulty lifting the legs, particularly from lying down.

PGP is usually made worse by lying on your back, turning over in bed, walking and standing from a sitting position. It is often worse at night. Moving your legs apart (e.g. getting out of the car) and standing on one leg (e.g. getting dressed) can be painful.

PGP can begin as early as the first trimester or as late as the last few days before giving birth. If the pain comes on at the very end of your pregnancy it is often because the baby’s head is moving down and engaging into the pelvis. If this is the case, it is unusual to have pain after giving birth.

It is estimated that one in five women will have some degree of PGP in pregnancy. If you experience PGP in one pregnancy, it is more likely to recur earlier in your next pregnancy, and without treatment, may be more severe.

Self-Help tips if you have PGP:

  • Stay active but avoid activities that make the pain worse. A pregnancy yoga class or exercising in a pool could be helpful.
  • Avoid wearing heels.
  • If you are sleeping on your side, try a pillow between your legs or if you are on your back, put it under your knees
  • Keep your knees together when getting in and out of the car.
  • Sit down when getting dressed.
  • Walk up stairs one at a time and maybe backwards.
  • Get as much help as possible with household chores.

 

Recovering after birth

Osteopathic treatment aims to help mothers return to normal, physically and emotionally, after birth by releasing the accumulated strains and tensions from both the pregnancy and the labour. This allows her to relax and enjoy her new baby.

After giving birth, the body not only has to recover from the physical challenges of pregnancy and labour but also cope with the physically and mentally demanding job of caring for the new baby. Caring for a baby can place considerable strain on the body whether that be from lifting and manoeuvring car seats, reaching into cots, feeding in awkward positions or deprived sleep.

If you would like to bring your baby, children or partner with you to your appointment, please do. They would be very welcome.