I have been involved with the care of women’s health ever since my own undergraduate study 40 years ago. I continue to study in this area and I regularly teach about the osteopathic care of women from pre-conception, through pregnancy & birth, on to the postnatal period. Each week in clinic I am fortunate to support a number of women through this life journey, helping them to achieve the healthiest pregnancy they can.
Many women will decide to have osteopathic care prior to conception to help address any musculoskeletal issues they might already have. Perhaps residual problems from a difficult first labour, or from previous traumas, or in overall consideration of their general health to feel well and in the best possible physical condition prior to conception.
The principles of osteopathic care include the relationship between the body framework and its function or physiology. Ensuring good musculoskeletal positioning and movement can enhance breathing, circulation and good pelvic mechanics. Alleviating stresses to the pelvic ligaments, joints and supporting muscles, including the pelvic floor, may help pelvic health overall.
Changes Throughout Pregnancy
The postural and hormonal changes of pregnancy can create discomfort throughout the body most frequently in the pelvis (sacroiliac joints and symphysis pubis). Nausea, indigestion, reflux, breathlessness, constipation, swollen ankles, varicose veins are all common symptoms of the changes occurring in the body along with an increasing demand placed on breathing and the circulation throughout pregnancy.
Osteopathy offers specific hands on treatment to help to alleviate many of the symptoms and assist the mother’s body to adapt to the changing demands placed on it as the baby and uterus grow. The baby’s growth changes the posture of the mother and the spaces within the abdomen, pelvis and chest. This can put stress on the joints of the spine, pelvis, limbs and neck. Also the increased physiological demands of circulation, breathing and digestion can affect a mother’s well being.
Frequent Complaints In Pregnancy
Pregnant women will frequently discuss:
Low Back Pain - with the increasing say back as the baby grows
Symphysis Pubis Pain SPD - the hormones soften pelvic ligaments
Sacro Iliac Joint SIJ strain - increased mobility of the pelvis and altered bone and joint positions, causing weakness and pain
Sciatica - from pressure through low back and pelvis to the Sciatic Nerve in the buttock or back of the thigh
Hip Pain - the muscles to the side of the pelvis and thighs work harder, as the abdomen expands and support from abdominal muscles appropriately diminishes
Lower Abdominal Pain - from the stretch of Uterine Ligaments
Rib Pain - perhaps form the baby’s position as the uterus enlarges, pushing up under the rib cage
Digestive Disturbances - such as reflux and constipation. The digestive organs have reduced space as the baby grows filling the abdomen and pelvis.
Sleep Disturbance - including pain and difficulty turning in bed, in addition to urinary frequency.
Swollen Ankles and Varicose Veins - as the pelvis fills with the uterus enlarging there is less room for good lymphatic and venous blood return from the legs
Headache - this can be due to postural changes but evaluation will check that this is not related to high blood pressure or other problems
Neck & Upper Back discomfort - with increasing weight & demands on the upper spine
Hand & Arm Symptoms - such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Pelvic Floor - strains and changes to their bladder control
I take a though medical history and listen to the mother’s current concerns. I closely monitor a mother’s progress taking into account her care with her Midwife, GP or Obstetrician, noting the results of her other tests and supporting her with her general health.
Osteopathic Examination and Treatment is carried out in positions that are most comfortable for the mother and are adapted to the changing needs of the pregnancy as the baby grows.
Non-manipulative procedures are used on the spine and pelvis and on the muscles of breathing, also around the digestive organs such as the stomach and liver, to help to ease discomfort and improve blood flow and nervous control of these areas.
I will advise the mother about exercise, resting positions and postural adaptations for work and daily life. I will also discuss diet and breathing to help her manage her pregnancy.
I can also discuss ideas to help with labour. I have helped many mothers with treatment and postures to allow the baby to lie in the optimal position for delivery, alleviating pelvic strains to help to facilitate an easier birth.
Guiding the mother with information about the changes her body is undergoing, how she can best manage the changes of pregnancy and how to best prepare her body for labour.
Post Natal Care
I am also a breastfeeding counsellor regularly discussing breastfeeding and feeding management, helping to cope with those early days and weeks. Then later the introduction of family foods, as the baby grows.
I work closely with midwives and lactation consultants and other feeding specialists, to help a mother manage the particular needs of her unique relationship with her baby.
Post Natal Recovery
Helping the mother’s body recover from the pregnancy and birth.
Whether the mother had a vaginal delivery or a caesarean; a spontaneous or assisted labour, many changes occur within the pelvis abdomen, pelvic floor and the rest of the body as she recovers from the birth and adapts to feeding, carrying and caring for the new baby.
Osteopathy can help in the recovery and transitional process of early motherhood. Assisting the pelvis, uterus, circulation and musculoskeletal system to return to optimal health and comfort. Osteopathic manual care can alleviate muscular and joint strains from labour.
I will offer specific advice about exercise, resting and carrying, which can help you manage the early weeks after delivery and help to prevent longer term problems developing. Care can be offered to help manage the postural demands of feeding and the health of breast tissue, to prevent and recover from blocked milk ducts, engorgement or mastitis.
If you would like to know more, please speak to me about osteopathic care during your pregnancy and after birth.
We can then arrange a time to speak.