Did You Know that Osteopaths help Ease Discomfort and Pain during Pregnancy?
Osteopathy is a gentle way to help the body to adapt to postural and muscular changes throughout pregnancy.
There are many changes women must go through to accommodate the growing foetus. This includes changes not only in the musculoskeletal system, but also the cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, circulatory, and gastrointestinal systems.
Common pregnancy related complaints osteopaths treat include:
- Lower back pain
- Pelvic girdle pain
- Pelvic floor weakness
- Pelvic Instability
- Hip pain
- Neck, shoulder and upper back pain
- Swelling in the legs and hands
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Headaches and more…!
By helping your body to cope with the constant changes it is undergoing, “hands on” osteopathic therapy aims to minimise your discomfort and pain and create a more optimal state of well being for you, both structurally and functionally. This in turn may help you move better, feel better and be less tired as well!!
One of the main changes in the musculoskeletal system that contributes to many of the above complaints involves release of the hormone relaxin. This hormone acts to increase the elasticity of the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue. It mainly effects the pelvis, hips and lower back, but, as it is a hormone and circulates through the blood stream, it also effects the rest of the body as well. This means other body parts may change as well. For example, as the foot is made up of lots of ligaments and relaxin effects all ligaments, the arches in the feet may flatten and lose part of their stability, and hence contribute to pain, swelling and tenderness in the feet. Other joint strains and muscle spasms may also occur by overstretching muscles and joints during regular walking, other forms of exercise, yoga or pilates, so great care is needed when doing any physical activity.
Following the birth of the baby, Osteopathic care is also helpful to prevent and manage common post-birth related issues including:
- Pelvic and lower back strain – whether from natural or Cesarean delivery,
- Pelvic floor weakness – which may be present after birth, even if it wasn’t present during pregnancy due to the nature of the delivery of the baby, and issues which relate to posture from feeding and carrying, bending and lifting the baby.
Here are some of our favourite tips to help relieve back pain whilst pregnant:
1. Know when to consult your health care provider.
If your back pain or pregnancy related complaints persists, is unusual, or debilitating or you find that it is getting worse, contact your obstetrician, midwife, osteopath or preferred health care provider. Appropriate advice and/or treatment will then be prescribed.
2. Perform Physical Activity.
As your body grows and changes through pregnancy, don’t forget to keep active. Gentle regular exercise such as walking or swimming can help to relieve back pain during pregnancy. Pregnancy specific Pilates or Yoga classes with experienced instructors are also a great form or gentle exercise tailored to the changing body. Using tools such as massage balls, therabands and foam rollers can also be very beneficial in keeping muscles as supple as possible.
3. Be Aware of Your Posture.
As your centre of gravity changes with your growing belly, it’s important to look after your posture. As well as postural changes, other things to be aware of are changes in balance, changes in gait and general stability. Try standing up straight and tall, keeping your shoulders down and neck relaxed. Stand with a wide stance that will give you a larger base of support for your body and keep you more stable on your feet. When sitting, place a pillow behind your lower back and use a foot stool to rest your feet on.
4. Sleep on your side.
Lie on your side, with your knees bent. Investing in a quality pregnancy pillow can be beneficial to support your whole body or use a regular pillow to place between your knees. This will help keep your pelvis more balanced and less twisted, especially through the lower back and sacroiliac joints. You can also place a small towel under your belly that will help take off the load or downward pull from the stomach from your mid-lower back. It gives a lot of extra support!
It is also recommended that sleeping on the left side during the later stages of pregnancy is beneficial for improved circulation, hence allowing the baby to receive optimal amounts of nutrients and oxygen to the placenta. It also means that the weight of the uterus and baby will not be pressing on the liver which is on the right hand side and hence not restrict blood flow.
5. Apply a heat pack to your lower back to help ease muscle tension and aches.
This will aid in circulation and decrease pain associated with muscle spasm. A warm bath can also help relieve this muscle pain. Adding some epsom salts to your bath, which are rich in magnesium, will help decrease any inflammation and improve muscle and nerve function.
And remember, that any concerns – no matter how small or large, and feelings of being anxious and excited are all very normal, whether your first pregnancy or after many!!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, do research, and make sure you feel comfortable with your health care providers to guide you to have the most supported and comfortable pregnancy possible for you and your partner!