GENERAL & PREGNANCY OSTEOPATH
When to see an osteopath during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a special time in a women's life. Sometimes unwanted aches & pains can occur making pregnancy less enjoyable. Sarah specialises in pregnancy care, treating pregnant women and making them as pain free as possible. Treatment during pregnancy however is not limited to when/if you experience pain. Osteopathic treatment is safe at any stage of pregnancy and can be used as a way of preventing aches & pains from occurring.
The body goes through a vast number of physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. Preventative treatment is aimed at making sure the body is adapting well to all the changes and the mother is comfortable.
Round Ligament pain in pregnancy
Round ligament pain refers to pain in your lower abdomen during pregnancy. Typically this pain is described as sharp, achey, crampy, occurring on one or both sides of your abdomen.
Why does it happen?
The round ligament attaches to your uterus (cornu of the uterus) to your pubic bone (mons pubic, fatty tissue attached to pubic bone). As a normal part of pregnancy, the round ligament increases in diameter and length. It can cause cramping and pain due to its stretching & contracting. This may be sharp or cause a pulling sensation. Once the baby is born the round ligament shrinks back to its non-pregnant state.
Why do I get aches & pains during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a womens life but it can bring unwanted aches and pains. Not all women experience them though, just hope that you are one of the lucky ones. Hormonal changes, in particular relaxin and progesterone,can cause some of these aches and pains. These hormone levels rise to aid changes in the body required for pregnancy. For example relaxin is responsible for allowing your body to expand, to accomodate your growing baby. Unfortunately it was cause excessive ligament laxity causing aches and pain, in some women. Progesterone helps the uterine lining and breast growth, but progesterone can make the gastrointestinal tract 'lazy', making you more prone to constipation and reflux.
That burning feeling in your throat with pregnancy
Unfortunately a common complaint during pregnancy is reflux. That burning sensation in the back of your throat.
During normal digestion, food travels down the esophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach), through a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and into the stomach. The LES is part of the doorway between your esophagus and your stomach. It opens to allow food through and closes to stop stomach acids from coming back up.
When you have heartburn, or acid reflux, the LES relaxes enough to allow stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus. This can cause pain and burning in the chest area. During pregnancy, hormone changes can allow the muscles in the esophagus, including the LES, to relax more frequently. The result is that more acids may seep back up, particularly when you're lying down or after you've eaten a large meal.
Nutritional Advice during pregnancy
- Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is linked to miscarraige, low birth weight and 'foetal alcohol syndrome'. Alcohol should not be consumed during pregnancy at any stage.
- Maintain a healthy weight
The amount of weight put on during pregnancy varies per person but there are guidelines as to how much weight is acceptable to put on during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain can cause high or low birth weights and an increased risk of your child developing diabetes and obesity in later years. Focus on a healthy and well balanced diet, to aid a healthy pregnancy and supporting the growth of your baby. Your midwife may weigh you throughout your pregnancy to keep a track of your weight gain.
Osteopathic treatment during pregnancy
Pregnancy can be a joyful time but unfortunately can bring some unwanted aches & pains. Osteopaths work closely along pregnant mother's to guide them through the process and alleviate those unwanted pains. These aches and pains can be from mechanical causes like the growing baby putting strains on muscles, joints & ligaments and/or from all the hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy. Osteopaths also like to work along side expectant mother's before these issues arise to try to prevent them occurring in the first place.
- Back pain
- Rib pain
- Pelvic pain
- Difficulty sleeping
How do I tighten and strengthen my pelvic floor ahead of giving birth?
During pregnancy your pelvic floor is very important, especially leading up to birth. Whether you are planning a natural birth or c-section. Doing some simple exercises can help tighten your pelvic floor muscles to help avoid the symptoms associated with a 'weak pelvic floor'.
Is my pelvic floor weak?
Here are some symptoms that your pelvic floor needs some attention:
- Leaking urine while laughing, coughing, sneezing, running, jumping
- Needing the toilet the second you need to pass urine, otherwise you leak
- Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowels
- Accidentally passing wind
- Painful sex
Do I need a pregnancy belt?
Does every pregnant person need a pregnancy belt? Simply, no. They are a very good support for those that need them but not everyone does. 'Smiley belts' are very popular and have their place, but if you are considering using one, speak to your midwife or health professional first. A few osteopathic treatments and you may not even need a belt.
The purpose of the belt is to provide stability & support to the area that is sore & unstable. The instability might be due to hormonal changes, making excessive ligament instability and creating strain on the local muscles. Your health professional will be able to assess if you need a belt, or whether treatment +/- exercises at home will be enough.