Being an expectant mother myself, it made sense to train and build upon my understanding of the strains placed on the body through pregnancy and how Osteopathy can help. Most will appreciate how the increased weight and changes in posture throughout pregnancy could place strain on the musculoskeletal system. These changes are natural and an essential part of your body carrying and caring for your baby, but can still take their toll and cause aches and pains for the mother to be. Estimates suggest that over two thirds of pregnant women will suffer with musculoskeletal pain during their pregnancy, whilst this pain is generally a phase (part of the pregnancy), relief from aches and pains could make your pregnancy more comfortable. Bellow I’ll discuss how/why musculoskeletal may pain arise in pregnancy and how osteopathy may help.
How Posture Changes in Pregnancy
During pregnancy your body is in a constant state of change to accommodate your baby. This involves hormonal change, postural change, increased blood volume, changes in cardiac output and much more. The main hormone facilitating postural change is relaxin. The role of relaxin (as it’s name suggests) is to soften and allow ligaments in your body to stretch and accommodate your baby. The amount of relaxin in your body peaks at two point in pregnancy; at around 14 days (allowing essential postural changes), and just before labor (allowing the ligamentus laxity essential for baby to pass through the pelvic bones). Because of this, joints become looser throughout pregnancy and the body relies on muscular tone to maintain stability. This can make your muscles susceptible to fatigue, aches and pains.
During the first 13 weeks the uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby. this pushes the rest of the contents of your abdomen upwards. In response to this, the large abdominal muscles tighten and the bottom of your back flattens. This change in the posture of your back changes how the vertebra are loaded and can cause muscle fatigue and soreness as your body accommodates these changes.
By the end of the second trimester your posture has changed again. As the baby grows larger the increasing weight pulls the low back forward creating a deep curve. this puts pressure on the spinal joints and can feel quite uncomfortable. in addition to this the breasts are growing heavier and putting stress on your upper back so you may be feeling pain between your shoulder blades and possibly up into your neck.
In this trimester everything becomes ‘more’. The curve in your low back will increase further putting even more pressure on your low back. As the baby is bigger now there is more pressure on the pelvis so you may be experiencing pain where the front of the pelvis joins, known as the pubic symphysis. The breasts are also still increasing in size and may be causing back and neck pain. In addition to all this, the baby is restricting the space in the abdomen significantly now pushing everything up to the point where you may feel quite breathless as the space your lungs usually occupy is reduced.
How Osteopathy can Help
The change your body is going through is completely natural, however, sometimes your body struggles to compensate for these changes. Osteopathy uses various techniques to ease any pain or discomfort you may feel during your pregnancy, and ultimately help facilitate the changes needed to carry your baby. Gentle techniques are used to ease tired muscles and joints to make you more comfortable. We can advise you what exercises you may find beneficial and give you lots of other advise to help you stay comfortable. You may be interested in taping techniques designed to help muscles and reduce joint loading, this is something we offer as part of treatment.