Pregnancy & Post-Partum: How Can Osteopathy Help You?
Justine Gapihan, DOMP
Please note that osteopathy is not a substitute to regular medicine. You still need to follow-up with your GP, gynecologist or midwife.
The goal of osteopathy during your pregnancy is to limit pain and symptoms that arise, and ensure everything is ready for your delivery.
During the first session, we’ll pay attention to your current state (and eventually also any previous pregnancies). You may be coming for different reasons:
- misalignment in the pelvis
- lower back pain
In osteopathy we make sure that the structure (bones, fascia, muscles etc.) are in the “right place” to ensure proper function.
Various troubles could occur at different times over your pregnancy:
Usually, during the first trimester, it’s mostly joint pain. This is due to hormones (especially the relaxin that is produced by the ovaries and the placenta) which help relax the joints in preparation for changes in the pelvis. The parasympathic system, a component of the nervous system, will be overactive, causing different symptoms like nausea, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, ligament and joint tightness. Constipation could also occur due to the compression of the rectum by the uterus. Lower back pain and sciatica can also start during these first three months
During the second trimester, progesterone is produced beginning around the third month. Progesterone reduces the vascular tone, and is responsible for the hypotonia of the smooth muscles. It can have digestive consequences like constipation, heartburn etc. As the belly increases, the uterus pushes against the organs, which may result in some rib pain. Posture is changing: knee pain can occur (due to hyperextension), the pelvis shifts forward, and ankle and foot pain can occur. Due to the changing posture, it’ll be very important to check the spine as well; the lumbar spine is curving and the center of gravity is moving forward, the neck is shifting forward, which could explain increasing tightness and along with headaches and shoulder pain.
During the third trimester, we are nearing delivery, so the goal will be to make sure that the pelvis is functional. All the symptoms from the second trimester can worsen at this time.
In the case of breeched babies, rebalancing the pelvis and giving more mobility to the spine, relaxing both of the diaphragms (abdominal and pelvic), will allow them to have more room in your belly, so they may be able to turn.
It’s often useful to come and see an osteopath once a trimester (at the beginning of the pregnancy, mid-way through, and around the eighth month, just before delivery). If you have any test results (ultrasound, blood work, etc.), please bring them with you for the appointment. It’s also very wise to come before getting pregnant (if possible), to prepare the body for pregnancy.
After the delivery, you may have some symptoms like sciatica, incontinence issues, tightness due to the C-section, digestive issues, etc. We’ll try our best to help your body get back to normal quickly, and to be in good shape for any future pregnancies!
Justine Gapihan is on osteopathic manual practitioner who treats a variety of complaints. From sprains and strains to digestive issues, postural strain and more. She has experience treating infants and children. You can learn more about Justine on her practitioner profile.