This article was written for We Are the City – 12 April 2013
Wow, 11,678 of you have read this.
Osteopathic care during pregnancy can help to relieve or even prevent such symptoms as back pain, pelvic pain & sciatica enabling you to enjoy a pain free, relaxed pregnancy.
Low back pain is common in pregnancy, but NOT normal and CAN be treated effectively and usually quite quickly. It may be accompanied by discomfort in your upper back, shoulders, between your shoulder blades and in your ribcage. Some women suffer from sciatica, a sharp shooting pain down one or both legs. In a few women, pubis symphysis discomfort (pelvic pain) also occurs. This is pain in the pubic joint at the front of your pelvis, caused by instability of the joint.Being pregnant can be a joyous time in a woman’s life, we are told that we will feel vibrant, glowing, at one with nature… however for many it’s a time of feeling exhausted, uncomfortable & not too happy about losing our figures we’ve spent most of our lives striving to perfect! Your body has to undergo an incredible metamorphosis in order to give that beautiful little bundle of impending joy a comfortable home for the first 9 months of its life and that very often takes its toll on your body.
As your baby develops, our bodies have evolved to develop postural changes necessary for us to maintain balance in the upright position. After 12 weeks of pregnancy your uterus can no longer be contained within your pelvis and moves upwards and forwards. The average weight gain with a single fetus is 10-12kg which will be primarily distributed around your girth. This causes your abdominal muscles to become stretched & reduce in tone inhibiting their ability to maintain a neutral posture, moving your centre of gravity forward, causing your lumbar lordosis to increase (arch in lower back). To counteract this, the long supporting muscles of your back begin working harder to hold the shoulders back and lift the tummy. As a result, later in the day, a dull backache may be felt.
As your shoulders and head are drawn forwards this leads to compression of the structures at the base of the skull and the joints at the base of the neck. This may result in neck pain and unpleasant headaches locally and behind the eyes. Occasionally weakness and pins and needles may be found in the fingers if the nerve supply is being compressed. These are also symptoms that many (non pregnant) office workers present to me with due to sitting at a computer all day, therefore can be exacerbated by habitual postures.
As your pregnancy continues, production of the hormone Relaxin increases to create joint laxity necessary to allow your pelvis to accommodate your enlarging uterus. Joint laxity is more pronounced in women who have had more than one baby (mulitiparous). This weakens the supporting ligaments of the lower back and may result in back pain coming from the discs & facet joints. Lower back pain is more common in multiparous women and in women who have a previous history of lower back ache prior to pregnancy. During pregnancy your pubic symphisis (joint at the front of your pelvis) continues to widen to allow for the passing of the babies head during birth and can increase in width from 0.5mm to 12mm. Dysfunction in this joint is most common from the second trimester and may be felt in your pubic bone and lower abdomen, spreading under the pelvic floor. The discomfort may resemble a menstrual type ache or a sharp stabbing like pain at the joint or pelvic floor. Movements that may cause discomfort are squatting, stair walking, rolling over in bed or, separation of the legs laterally. This is due to the hyper-flexibility of the ligaments which may cause the two pelvic bones to sheer.
As a Personal Trainer and as an Osteopath I have worked with many pre and post natal ladies during these times of adaptation not only to help resolve specific conditions, but also help maintain abdominal, pelvic and postural strength throughout their pregnancy. You may be surprised to know that you can continue to strengthen your abdominal muscles via specific exercises right up until you give birth and by strengthening your upper back muscles you will be preparing your postural muscles to accommodate for the impeding breast feeding stage!
In understanding how these postural and hormonal changes will affect your body, we can help you to maintain a strong and healthy body through out your pregnancy.
For more information or advice on any symptoms you may have call 0207 177 0207 or visit: newbodyosteo.wpengine.com
Zoe Mundell M.Ost, DPO, ND
Zoe is the Principle Osteopath and Director of New Body Osteopathy. A qualified Paediatric Osteopath, Naturopath, Medical Acupuncturist, Pilates Practitioner and Personal Trainer, Zoe has a natural desire to optimise health, nutrition and wellness.