Osteopathy is a perfectly safe form of physical therapy that can benefit women during all the different stages of pregnancy.
It is an established system of diagnosis and manual treatment which is recognised by the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa and the British Medical Association.
Osteopathy during pregnancy can be applied as follows:
Aches and pains
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 you have existing back problems or strains in your body from past accidents or trauma, it may be more difficult for you to accommodate these changes, and you may suffer from discomfort as a result.
Furthermore, the ligaments 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 your baby’s head through the pelvis. Unfortunately, this softening affects your whole body and makes it more vulnerable to strain during pregnancy.
Poor posture may cause backache, neckache, headaches, aching legs and undue fatigue.
Osteopathic treatment is helpful in assisting your body to make postural changes. It can also help to make your pregnancy more comfortable.
Preparation for labour
An important part of preparation for childbirth is to ensure that your pelvis is structurally balanced and able to allow the passage of your baby down the birth canal.
Trauma to the pelvic bones, coccyx or sacrum at any time in your life can leave increased tension in the 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 outlet.
Osteopathic treatment is extremely effective in releasing old strains within the pelvis, thus giving the best chance of an easy and uncomplicated labour.
In most cases, osteopathic treatment to ensure that the pelvis and uterus are correctly balanced and aligned can help with discomforts of later pregnancy, and can often help your baby to turn into a better position.
Treatment after birth
Birth can be traumatic for both mother and baby. However, osteopathy can be effective in helping both you and your baby to recover.
Your 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 your nervous system, and may contribute to postnatal depression.
After giving birth, your body not only has to recover from the changes it made during pregnancy, but also from the effects of delivery – all this while doing the very physically and mentally demanding job of caring for your new baby.
Caring for a baby can place enormous strain on the back, particularly during such activities as nursing in poor positions, lifting car seats (especially in and out of the car), reaching over the cot, or carrying your child on one hip.
Furthermore, unresolved childbirth stresses can contribute to ongoing back problems, period problems, stress incontinence, constipation, headache and more.
Osteopathic treatment can help you return to physical and mental health after birth by releasing strains from both pregnancy and labour. This will allow you to relax and enjoy your new baby.
It can provide relief from lower back and leg pain, neck and shoulder pain, discomfort around the thorax, indigestion, wrist pain and post-natal problems of the pelvis.
Your baby can also suffer long-lasting effects from the moulding process during birth, and an osteopathic check-up is recommended. - (Dr Guy Ashburner, July 2007)
About the author: Dr Guy Ashburner is a graduate of the British School of Osteopathy in the United Kingdom. He has worked as an osteopath at the Osteopathic Centre for Children in London and also holds a post-graduate diploma in paediatric osteopathy. Dr Ashburner also has experience working at a specialist sports injury clinic. He recently emigrated from the United Kingdom to Cape Town, South Africa.
Dr Guy Ashburner BSc(Hons) Ost(U.K), D.P.O.
To find out more, visit www.osteogoodhealth.com