Osteopathy and Pregnancy

Pregnancy and post partum are examples of how the body has the capacity to change and adapt to demands placed upon it. Postural changes occur early on along with numerous physiological and mechanical adaptations.

Pregnancy and the lower back

Usually the reason first time mothers come in for treatment is pain. They may also have been recommended by their GP, midwife, health visitor or a friend. Many musculoskeletal pains are common in pregnancy but back pain or pelvic pain is usually the most common presenting complaint for osteopathic treatment. Not every women gets back pain during her pregnancy, it’s the body’s inability to adapt and cope with the changes that can cause a problem. Some women feel the best they have ever felt during pregnancy with no pain at all.

The pregnant patient requires a more specific questioning including dates of scans, weight gain, previous pregnancies and intervention, foetal movement blood tests and patient care such as GP appointments or midwife appointments to name a few.

Three of the commonest structural problems causing pain in pregnancy can be sacro iliac pain, facet joint pain and disc pain which can all present as low back pain. During the pregnancy and in each trimester new stresses are placed upon the body as the bump begins to grow.

Hormonal changes such as increased relaxin allow ligaments to stretch and expand more for growth.

The thoracic spine (upper back and shoulders) can come under more load as breast tissue increases in size, ribs expand and stretch to make room for the uterus and baby growing up, which can place stress on the diaphragm and ribs causing aches and pains.

In the third trimester due to the weight of baby, amniotic fluid and tissue volume more pressure is placed lower down into the low back and pubic symphysis region (pain in the front of the pelvis). Osteopathic techniques can help relieve pressures in these areas such as the load on the pubic symphysis joint, or low back and ribs.

When treating pregnant women sitting techniques are more comfortable due the size of the abdomen and some techniques are performed with the patient on her side. Osteopathic techniques can help loosen tight muscles, increase joint mobility and improve comfort and mobility for the pregnant mum.

For further information contact Louise North on 01707 327135.