In an ideal world, every woman who is planning to become pregnant would have an osteopathic assessment and treatment in preparation for the journey ahead. This is particularly important if she has any musculoskeletal issues, be it lower back pain, neck and shoulders tension or pain, bad posture, or had a severe injury in the past (as for example, a past unresolved ankle sprain can alter walking patterns even slightly which may lead to tricky pelvic and spinal dysfunctions or restrictions that can interfere with the necessary postural adaptations in pregnancy and even labour).
While sorting out dysfunctions that can be dealt with pre-conception is ideal, treatment in pregnancy is very beneficial and often needed. Pregnancy is a very dynamic state where the body undergoes some profound changes in a relatively short space of time.
I will touch on a few of those below and mention briefly what osteopaths can do to help “support the change” or reduce discomfort if the changes are not happening as smoothly as they should:
1) Postural/mechanical changes: as the body’s centre of gravity shifts for obvious reasons, the posture changes dramatically. It is of vital importance to ensure that there are no major restrictions so the structure is able to adapt to new demands. One very important aspect is to ensure normal mobility of the sacrum so that it can move during labour thus making it easier for the baby to pass through the birth canal. But it’s not just about the pelvis. Chronic sitting in desk workers often leads to tension and sometimes constant pain in the shoulders/neck or between the shoulder blades. Not only is this uncomfortable and stressful, restrictions there would prevent a woman from achieving a deep squat with good form - which is one of the most useful exercises in pregnancy as well as a great position during labour that helps the baby descend. Having a mobile thoracic spine and ribcage also means you can breathe more efficiently getting more oxygen for yourself and the developing baby, have more energy and a clearer head!
3) Changes in the digestive system: during pregnancy, constipation is a common issue and while the importance of a healthy diet (including adequate water intake) and regular movement such as walking, for example, cannot be underestimated, gentle manual treatment that helps balance the nerve supply to the gut can help too. With heartburn being another common problem, easing the pressure on the diaphragm and giving the internal organs more space by gently decompressing the spine, freeing up the lower ribcage and thoracic spine where the diaphragm attaches can make a significant difference.
Our patients often describe a feeling of very deep relaxation during and after treatment, however there’s much more to it than just feeling nice. The more relaxed and well balanced you are, the more the powerful self healing “programme” inside your body is able to function optimally and that is very good for mums and their babies.
Osteopathic manipulative treatment for nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis.www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25175885
Acute improvement in hemodynamic control after osteopathic manipulative treatment in the third trimester of pregnancy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24280470
Aydan has an Integrated Master’s Degree course from the European School of Osteopathy (UK).
Having previously completed six years medical doctor training, she really appreciates the holistic nature of the osteopathic approach. She has been exposed to a variety of treatment approaches at university, including classical, cranial and visceral osteopathy and has undertaken post graduate education, including biodynamics of osteopathy, primitive reflexes and pregnancy care, which have helped her develop her vision of osteopathy. Aydan regards osteopathy as a philosophy allowing her to create a positive change in a patient, by facilitating the expression of the inherent wisdom of the body.
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