Pregnancy and Newborns

Osteopathy for babies and mothers

Osteopathic treatment can be beneficial 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, or strains from past accidents or trauma 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 may cause backache and sciatica, neckache, headaches, aching legs and undue fatigue.

Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (SPD)

The front of the pelvis or pubic symphysis is held together by ligaments. In pregnancy these ligaments soften and can lead to a painful stretching or separation of the pubic symphysis. This causes pain at the front of the pelvis , worsens with exercise and towards the end of the day. SPD may be aggravated by restrictions in the lower spine and sacrum that disturb normal pelvic mechanics.

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 diaphragm and can contribute to a number of different problems;

  • Distortion of the loop of muscle that closes the entrance of the stomach may cause heartburn
  • Congestion in and around the liver may increase nausea and vomiting.
  • Restriction of the venous blood flow as it passes through the diaphragm back to the heart may contribute to varicose veins and haemorrhoids.
  • Shortness of breath as the lung volume is reduced.

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 of training. Gentle osteopathic techniques are very beneficial and perfectly safe at all stages of pregnancy.

Stress in pregnancy

Anxiety or stress in pregnancy is known to affect the developing baby, particularly if it is anxiety about the health of the baby. 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.

Preparation for Labour

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

Past accidents or falls commonly leave a legacy of restricted movement or strain in the pelvis, even if no symptoms are present. This can limit the ability of these bones to move and create the largest possible space for the baby during labour.

Osteopathic treatment to release any restrictions within the pelvis gives the best chance of an easy and uncomplicated labour.

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 positions may prolong labour and make it more difficult for both mother and baby.

Osteopathic treatment to balance the pelvis may help the baby to lie in a better position.

Self-help tips to encourage the baby to lie correctly

  • 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.
  • Sitting slouched 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 seat that tilts forward encourages the baby to lie correctly.
  • If your baby is lying in either a breech or back to back position, then spending some time each day in an ‘all fours’ position can help it to turn.

Treatment after Birth

After giving birth, the body has to recover from both the changes it made during pregnancy and from the effects of delivery. The mother’s pelvis is often pulled out of balance by the passage of the baby, particularly after a difficult delivery.

This can lead to long term problems such as Back and Neck pain, Fatigue, Period problems, Stress incontinence, Constipation, Headache.

Postnatal depression

The sacrum is connected to the brain and spinal cord, and if the sacrum is pulled out of position during birth it can impose a drag directly into the brain. This may contribute to postnatal depression.

Caring for baby

Activities such as feeding in poor positions, lifting a car seat especially in an out of the car, reaching over the cot, or carrying a child on one hip can all place enormous strain on the back.

How can Osteopathy help?

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

Birth can be traumatic for both mother and baby, and Osteopathy is effective at helping both to recover.

For Mother

After giving birth, the body has to recover from both the changes it made during pregnancy and from the effects of delivery. New mothers may suffer from aches and pains, and sometimes feel quite traumatised by the labour experience, and ‘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 ligaments have been stretched to its limit and so unstable.

Unresolved childbirth stresses in the mother can contribute to ongoing back problems, period problems, stress incontinence, general fatigue, constipation, headache and more.

Postnatal depression

The sacrum is connected to the brain and spinal cord, and if the sacrum is pulled out of position during birth it can impose a drag directly into the brain. This may contribute to postnatal depression.

Caring for baby

Activities such as feeding in poor positions, lifting a car seat especially in an out of the car, reaching over the cot, or carrying a child on one hip can all place enormous strain on the back.

How can Osteopathy help?

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

Osteopathy For Babies

How was the birth for the 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 a lasting effect on the baby.

In the first few days the most common difficulties are with feeding, sleep and crying. Any baby who is unsettled and struggling to feed may be uncomfortable from the effects of birth. Osteopathy may be able to help.

Osteopaths recommend that every baby is checked after birth

Many osteopaths specialise in the treatment of babies and children using cranial osteopathy. Osteopathic treatment is extremely gentle, and is safe for the smallest of babies. It is never too early to treat.

Produced by Elizabeth Hayden D.O. and Clive Hayden D.O.

Address

Harmony Osteopathy
at Canopy Integrated Health

149-1233 Lynn Valley Road
North Vancouver, BC
Canada
V7J 0A1

tel: (604) 628-8801

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Invigorate Your Exercise Routine

Feeling restless? That’s normal this time of year.

Instead of letting that agitation irritate you, harness it and take yourself to the next level.

Walk a little faster, bike uphill instead of flat stretches, go to a dance class, join a softball league, or try a yoga class.

Of course you should still listen to your body and rest when you need to, but don’t use that as an excuse to be lazy
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Stretch of the Month

This exercise stretches the lower back.

1. Get onto all fours. Your arms should be in line with your shoulders and your legs should be in line with your hips. Arch your back and hold this position for a count of 30. Then flatten your back for the count of 30.

2. Your eyes should be looking at the floor and your arms should be kept straight.

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