Pregnancy is a time of rapid change and expectant mothers often experience low back and other pains due to the postural changes in pregnancy and the extra weight being carried. Structural problems that existed before pregnancy are more likely to cause complaint, and pregnancy is the ideal time to sort these problems out.
Osteopathy can also help prepare for an easy birth. Good structural balance in the joints of the pelvis and lumbar spine can aid the baby’s chances of engaging in the correct position and finding the easiest way through the birth canal. Joint restrictions in this area can easily and safely be corrected through osteopathic treatment.
In the last few weeks before the birth, treatment can help resolve any conflicting tensions in the abdominal wall and pelvic floor. This can reduce the feeling of heaviness at the end of pregnancy and can help make contractions more efficient, reducing the chances of a prolonged labour.
Once you’ve had the baby, you might find that the effects of pregnancy and giving birth do not always fully resolve themselves. The whole body will benefit from a check-up to ensure that the spine, pelvis and ribcage are returning to normal. Ligaments loosen in pregnancy and it takes a while for them to tighten up again; while they are still lax and while the mother is lifting and carrying her baby, lifting child seats in and out of cars etc, it is important to use the body well. An ideal time for osteopathic treatment to help.
Sometimes the bearing-down strain of giving birth can remain in the pelvis. This can drag on the membranes lining the spinal cord, exerting a pull on the low back and even right up to the base of the skull. Apart from predisposing the mother to fatigue and low back pain, it may also drag on the membranes lining the brain.
It is suggested by some osteopaths that this may be an important contributing factor in postnatal depression. A possible explanation might be that the function of the pituitary gland, which controls the hormonal changes in pregnancy and childbirth, is affected by the drag on the membranes. However, this dragging effect can be treated osteopathically.