/ Pregnancy and Childbirth
and Childbirth Pregnancy is a unique and
powerful experience. Enormous physical,
hormonal and emotional changes take place
over a relatively short period of time.
The body has to adapt to carrying up to
20lb of baby, waters and placenta, which
can impose physical strain on all the organs
treatment during and after pregnancy can
be beneficial in a number of ways:
Easing some of the physical discomforts
Preparing for the demands of labour.
Helping the mother to recover after
Osteopathy can help with:
Aches and pains are common during
pregnancy, as the body changes shape to
accommodate the increasing size and weight
of the uterus. This involves considerable
changes to posture. If the mother has existing
back problems, or strains in her body from
past accidents or trauma, it may be more
difficult for her to accommodate these changes,
and she may suffer more discomfort as a
of the whole body soften during pregnancy
due to the action of hormones. This allows
the bones of the pelvis to separate slightly
during the delivery to facilitate the passage
of the baby's head through the pelvis. Unfortunately
this softening affects the whole body and
makes it more vulnerable to strain during
may cause backache, neckache, headaches,
aching legs and undue fatigue. Osteopathic
treatment can help the body adapt, and make
the pregnancy much more comfortable.
Changes to the posture as the uterus expands
is often accompanied by symptoms such as
nausea, heartburn and shortness of breath.
Preparation for labour and position of the
As labour is likely
to be more difficult if the baby is not
lying correctly, it is worth trying
to help them to move into a better position.
The baby generally settles in a head downward
position and facing backward with his spine
curled in the same direction as his mother's
spine. This puts the baby in the most advantageous
position for passing through the birth canal
As the baby grows and takes up more space
within the abdomen there is less space for
them to move about, and they will find their
own preferred position. The mother's posture
has to adapt to accommodate the position
of the baby, and if this conflicts with
her own postural needs it may cause undue
aches and pains. This is the reason that
one pregnancy may be much more uncomfortable
to carry than another.
An important part of preparation for childbirth
is to ensure that
the mother's pelvis is structurally balanced
and able to allow the passage of the baby
down the birth canal.
Trauma to the pelvic
bones, coccyx or sacrum at any time in a
mother's life can leave increased
tension in muscles and strain within the
ligaments and bones of the pelvis. This
can limit the ability of these bones to
separate and move out of the way during
labour, and thus limit the size of the pelvic
is extremely effective at releasing
old strains within the pelvis, thus giving
the best chance of an easy and uncomplicated
In most cases osteopathic
treatment to ensure that the pelvis and
uterus are correctly balanced and
aligned can help with discomforts caused
by the baby's position, and can often help
the baby turn into a better position.
tips to encourage the baby to lie correctly
Try to keep as active as possible
throughout the pregnancy.
pushing your head upwards as if suspended
by a string. Do not allow your
lower back to slump into
a very hollow position.
in soft chairs encourages the baby to turn
into the back to back
position. Where possible,
sit with your bottom well back in the chair
and the lower
back supported. Better
still, sitting on a foam wedge, or on a
chair that has a seat
that tilts forward, actively
encourages the baby to lie correctly.
If your baby is lying in either a
breech or back to back position, then spending
time each day in an 'all
fours' position can help it to turn.
Birth can be traumatic for both mother and
baby, and osteopathy is effective at helping
both to recover.
The mother's pelvis
is vulnerable to lasting strains
from the forces involved, particularly after
a difficult delivery. Some of these strains
can have a profound effect on the nervous
system, and contribute to postnatal depression.
After giving birth,
the body not only has to recover from the
changes it made during pregnancy but also
from the effects of delivery. All this whilst
doing the very physically and mentally demanding
job of caring for the new baby. Caring for
a baby can place enormous strain on the
back, during such activities as nursing
in poor positions, lifting car seats especially
in and out of the car, reaching over the
cot, or carrying a child on one hip.
stresses in the mother can contribute
to ongoing back problems, as well as a variety
of other symptoms in pelvic organs.
can help the mother to return to
normal, physically and emotionally, after
birth by releasing strains from both pregnancy
and labour. This allows her to relax and
enjoy her new baby.
The baby can suffer long-lasting effects
from the moulding process during birth,
and an osteopathic check up is recommended.
safe during Pregnancy?
Osteopaths are highly
skilled and undergo a minimum of 4 years
training. Gentle osteopathic techniques
are perfectly safe at all stages of pregnancy.
The cranial osteopathic approach is a particularly
gentle way of working with the body's own
natural mechanism for releasing and re-balancing
tensions, without force.
Patrick McDonald - Osteopath