Can Osteopaths Help Me During Pregnancy?

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The short answer: yes!

Pregnancy is a transformative journey which brings both joyful emotion and physical challenges. As your body is adapting to nurture new life, it undergoes significant changes that can unfortunately lead to discomfort and pain.

Luckily for you, that is where we come in!

Conservative osteopathic treatment aims to try to help minimise the pain and discomfort your body may be experiencing during this time. Our holistic approach aims to improve overall health and reach optimal function while the body is undergoing these changes.

We want to keep you moving freely and feeling good while growing a little human!

Osteopathy focuses not only on the musculoskeletal changes that may occur during pregnancy, but also changes that may involve the lymphatic, cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems.

Is it common for my body to feel uncomfortable during pregnancy?

It is common! Studies have shown that 1 in 4 pregnant women will experience pelvic girdle pain, with a whopping 60% of women experiencing mild to moderate pain during pregnancy. Furthermore 20% will experience severe pain during pregnancy. *As always please check with your general practitioner, midwife or OBGYN if you have any extra concerns regarding your pain levels.

Hormonal changes play a crucial role in this process, particularly a hormone called relaxin. As the name suggests, it acts to “relax” and increase the elasticity of the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue. Although it is wanting to mostly affect the pelvis, hips and lower back; due to it circulating through the bloodstream it means that other body parts can become lax and looser.

Additional pressures include physical adjustments as the baby grows (such as the uterus expanding and changing the centre of gravity and posture); and you may find swelling and oedema due to the approximate 50% increase in blood volume to help support growing a baby.

Early and late postural changes during pregnancy – Obstetric and Visceral Osteopathy, Caroline Stone.

Pregnancy Bodywell

Early and late postural changes during pregnancy – Obstetric and Visceral Osteopathy, Caroline Stone.

Let’s explore the different conditions that we see during pregnancy
  1. Lower Back Pain: extremely common in the general population but particularly during pregnancy due to the extra weight on the body and shifting of centre of gravity
  2. Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD): pain in the pelvic region that can arise from the increased mobility and instability of the pelvic joints due to hormonal changes and the growing baby
  3. Sacroiliac Joint and Hip Pain: increased mobility in the pelvis and hips may lead to surrounding muscle tension and these joints working harder to support the body
  4. Nerve pain: pain radiating from the lower back down the leg, and is often associated with pressure on the sciatic nerve (“sciatica”)
  5. Swelling: commonly seen in the extremities – legs and feet or hands and fingers. This is due to the increase in blood volume and pressure on the blood vessels. *Please talk to your GP, midwife or OBGYN if you are concerned about the amount of swelling.
  6. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: numbness and tingling in the hands due to increased fluid causing pressure on the median nerve (nerve in the upper limb).
  7. Neck and upper back pain: postural changes can lead to muscle strain and discomfort, morning sickness, and the increase in breast tissue size particularly in later stages due to milk production.
  8. Breathlessness: particularly as the pregnancy progresses, the growing baby and associated postural changes can restrict the ribcage and diaphragm movement.
  9. Reflux and Heartburn: some of the nerves that supply the upper gut (oesophagus and stomach) come from the middle of the back which means tension here may contribute to these symptoms and also the changes of the body and the extra space in the pelvic cavity can lead to some women experiencing reflux.

These conditions are often not stand-alone and women may experience all of them at different stages of their pregnancy.

Pregnancy and Osteo Bodywell

How we can help!

Osteopathy treatment using a range of manual therapy techniques, home exercise advice and positioning suggestions can be beneficial during pregnancy for several reasons:

  • Pain Relief: helps alleviate common pregnancy-related pain by addressing musculoskeletal imbalances and improving joint mobility.
  • Postural Support: osteopathic treatments may help manage changes in posture and balance as the body adapts to the growing baby, reducing discomfort and improving stability and making daily activities more comfortable.
  • Improved Circulation: osteopathic techniques may enhance blood flow and lymphatic drainage, which may reduce swelling
  • Stress Reduction: pregnancy can be physically and emotionally taxing. Gentle, hands-on techniques may help reduce stress and promote relaxation by reducing muscle tension and discomfort
  • Enhanced Breathing: osteopathy may improve rib cage mobility, allowing for better lung expansion and more efficient breathing. This can provide more oxygen to mother and baby especially as the pregnancy progresses and the diaphragm becomes restricted
  • Digestive Support: we may be able to help address common digestive issues during pregnancy such as heartburn, constipation and bloating. Although we may not be able to resolve these, we aim to help alleviate the discomfort by focusing on the nerves that supply these areas as well as tension in the diaphragm muscle
  • Preparation for Labor: by optimising pelvic alignment and mobility, osteopathy can potentially facilitate an easier labor and delivery process
  • Pelvic Floor Support: simple exercises and techniques may be given to help in strengthening and maintaining the health of the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are integral in supporting the growing uterus, improving bladder control and can aid in postpartum recovery. We also have our wonderful Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists at the clinic who can assess further if required
  • Ongoing Postpartum support: unfortunately, pregnancy pain doesn’t always disappear as soon as the baby is born and we are here to help you in the recovery process too. This time is equally as important to aid in helping your body adjust to its “new normal” of parental duties caring for your newborn. This includes feeding postures, lifting prams and capsules, lifting, holding and settling your baby and bending over the bassinet or cot. It can also be helpful in managing and preventing ongoing postpartum issues such as strains, sprains, and general aches and pains all over the body during this time.

Osteopathy and pregnancy

For all of these conditions we use a patient-centred and tailored approach using gentle mobility, stretching, and massage techniques in an attempt to alleviate tension and improve joint mobility. Our primary concern during pregnancy is the safety and comfort of our patient, and all techniques are non-invasive and work within your comfort levels.

We will also provide you with simple and progressive at-home management within your capabilities such as stretching and exercises. These will all be based on your stage of pregnancy and what is appropriate with your condition.

Ultimately, at Bodywell Healthcare we take an approach that considers your individual needs and tailor your treatment to you. We aim to help your body adjust and adapt to the ongoing changes; continue to manage pre-existing conditions, treat any new or worsening conditions, and to help prepare the body for labour and birth, as well as your parenthood journey.

All of our osteopaths at Bodywell Healthcare are trained in treating pregnancy. For more information or to find out who may best suit your needs please give the clinic a call on 9717 1200 or book online by clinking HERE