Osteopathy for Mother & Baby

FacebooktwittermailFacebooktwittermail

Hold the Baby #2Share

Osteopathic treatment can help in

Easing some of the discomforts of pregnancy

Preparing for labour

Helping mother and baby to recover after birth.

Discomforts of pregnancy

Aches and pains

Considerable postural changes are necessary to accommodate the increasing size and weight of the uterus. At the same time, hormonal changes cause ligaments all over the body to soften and stretch in preparation for labour. Any pre-existing back problems may make it more difficult for the body to adapt and may result in aches and pains in any area of the body.

Postural difficulties generally increase from around 20 weeks as the uterus becomes heavier and starts to take up more space in the abdomen. This may cause  back or neck aching or pain, tension headaches, general aching and undue fatigue.

The uterus can be visualised as a bag, like a hot air balloon, that is tethered low down into the pelvis by ligaments. Movements such as bending down, picking up shopping, or anotherchild can strain these uterine ligaments  causing abdominal discomfort, groin pain or backache.

 

Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (SPD)

The two pubic bones meet at the front of the pelvis at the pubic symphysis. This joint is held together by ligaments. In pregnancy all ligaments soften and this can lead to a painful stretching or separation of the pubic symphysis.  This causes pain at the front of the pelvis, worse on exercise and towards the end of the day.

Osteopathis treatment aims to balance and release any restrictions in the lower spine and sacrum that disturb normal pelvic mechanics and put more strain on the pubic area.

 

Other discomforts of pregnancy

Some other discomfots of pregnancy, such as nausea and heartburn, are related to the increasing size of the uterus  crowding the internal organs.

Changes around the diaphragm

As the baby gradually fills the abdomen the intestines are pushed upwards, and the lower ribs flare outwards to create more space. This changes the tension and balance in the muscle of the diaphragm. It also requires  adjustment to the physical position of related organs such as the stomach, liver and lungs.

A basic osteopathic principle is that structure and function are interrelated, so it follows that changed structural relationships can alter function of these organs. For example, shortness of breath and increased vulnerability to chest infections may be related to reduction of lung volume due to the enlarged uterus restricting  breathing movements.

 

Stress in pregnancy

Research has shown that anxiety or stress in pregnancy may affect the developing baby. High adrenaline levels in the mother are mirrored by the baby, who is more likely to be unsettled after birth and suffer from infantile colic. Whilst there are some stresses that are unavoidable, mothers should try to remain relaxed and calm as much as possible. Osteopathy is very helpful in releasing the effects of stress and tension in the body, and helping mothers to relax and enjoy the pregnancy.

 

Osteopathic treatment in pregnancy

Osteopathic treatment to release tension and help the body to make the necessary postural changes more easily often makes the pregnancy much more comfortable.

Osteopaths are highly skilled and undergo a minimum of 4 years training. Gentle osteopathic techniques are very beneficial and perfectly safe at all stages of pregnancy.

Preparation for labour

Osteopaths check the mother’s pelvis to ensure it is balanced and ready to allow the passage of the baby.

Position of the baby

To facilitate the passage through the birth canal the best position for the baby is head downward and facing backward with his spine curled in the same direction as his mother’s spine. Other poitions may prolong labour and make it more difficult for both mother and baby. There are some very gentle osteopathic techniques to help support mother and baby in reaching the optimum position for delivery.

Postural tips for pregnancy

  • Try to keep as active as possible throughout the pregnancy
  • “Walk tall”, pushing your head upwards as if suspended by a string.
  • Try to hold your tummy in to avoid excessive hollowing of your back.
  • Avoid sitting slouched in soft chairs. Whenever possible, sit with your bottom well back in the chair and lower back supported. Better still, sit on a seat that tilts forward ( or a wedge)

After the baby is born

For mother

After giving birth, the body has to recover from both the changes it made during the pregnancy and from the effects of delivery. New mothers may suffer from aches and pains, and sometimes feel quite traumatised by the labour experience, or ‘out of sorts’.

The mother’s pelvis is often pulled out of balance by the passage of the baby, particularly after a difficult delivery. If the mother’s feet are in stirrups for delivery or stitching after birth, the weight of the legs puts huge leverage through the pelvis at a time when the pelvic ligaments have been stretched to their limit and are unstable. This is one of the most common causes of back problems after childbirth.

Unresolved childbirth stresses in the mother’s pelvis can contribute to ongoing back problems. Neck pain, general fatigue, or headaches arising from the neck.

Caring for baby

Caring for a rapidly growing baby an be physically demanding, and at a time when the mother’s body is still recovering from the hormonal and postural changes of pregnancy. Often the mother is so concerned about attending to the needs of the baby that she forgets to take good care of herself.

Activities such as feeding in poor positions, lifting a car seat especially in and out of the car, reaching over the cot, or carrying a child on one hip can all place enormous strain on the back. Caring for a baby is a  24 hours-a-day job and mothers need to look after their own health so they can cope with this demand.

Osteopaths can advise a new mother on managing the baby without straining her own body, about exercise to help her return to fitness after pregnancy and good diet.

How can Osteopathy help?

Skilfully applied osteopathic treatment can help the mother return to normal, physically and emotionally, after giving birth by releasing strains in the back from both pregnancy and labour. This allows her to relax and enjoy her new baby.

For baby

Osteopaths consider the birth from the baby’s point of view. Every baby’s birth experience is unique, whether very rapid, long and drawn out, or a caesarean birth. In any delivery the baby may have been squashed, pulled or twisted in different ways and this may leave the baby uncomfortable.

In the first few days the most common difficulties are with feeding and digestive difficulties, sleep and crying. A baby who is settled or struggling to feed may be uncomfortable with the effects of birth. A baby with a preference for breastfeeding on one side may be finding it difficult to turn his or her head freely to both sides.

Osteopaths believe that unresolved birth stresses may contribute to many different problems as the child grows. Osteopaths recommend that every baby is checked after birth.

I specialise in the treatment of babies and children, currently treating around 30 babies and small children per week. Osteopathic treatment is extremely gentle, and is safe for the smallest of babies. It is never too early to treat.