Osteopathy can be such a valuable form of healthcare during a woman’s pregnancy; assisting with the changes that naturally occur to the body, due to changing weight distribution, hormones causing relaxation of joints and increased mobility, and biomechanical changes to the musculoskeletal system. Pain may be an unwanted occurrence in pregnancy also, and osteopaths are well equipped to help manage conditions like posterior pelvic girdle pain, instability, pubic symphysis pain, sciatica, lower back pain and other common issues.
But osteopaths can also assist patients who do not have pain, by preparing the body for labour and delivery. Structure and function – one of our primary principles of osteopathy – is ever important. During delivery, the sacrum actually moves backward to allow greater space within the pelvis for the descent of the baby. You can imagine if your sacrum is ” jammed up” or strained, or if your muscles are guarding and tight, that this may restrict the ability for sacral movement. We believe that regular osteopathic assessment throughout pregnancy can keep your body moving and functioning optimally, to assist it when it has it’s hardest work to do. If you were training for a marathon, you would seek treatment along the way, and pregnancy is similar.
Post partum care is also an area that osteopaths may assist with. We recommend that mums make an appointment around six weeks post delivery, after the body has had time to heal and recover, and mum and bub are settling into their new life together. We can assess for strains and sprains, rectus diastasis (abdominal separation), stability and strength of the pelvic girdle, and often this is when issues in the upper back and neck may begin too from feeding postures.
But what about baby? At Freshwater Osteo, we believe that all babies should have an osteopathic assessment post delivery. This may occur as early as week one, but generally around two to three weeks. of age. Birth is a big deal – it is like running a marathon as mentioned before. Whether birth is a planned Caesarian, emergency caesarian, or natural delivery, birth and being in utero may affect baby’s body too. Birth may be short, long, straight-forward, traumatic, too quick, baby may be stuck, intervention may be required, there may be bruising and moulding of the cranium and face. Or maybe the position of the baby in utero has caused some very strong restrictions to baby’s mobility – like the “banana bendy” bub, or the “wry neck” bub, or the “cone shaped head” bub. Immobility may cause pain, or functional issues, like difficulty moving the neck into position for attachment to the breast, or consistently turning the head and neck one way which may lead to Plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome). And baby may be just very unsettled. The effect of in utero positioning and birthing may go well beyond the physical signs, and may influence the baby’s “fight and flight” nervous system also, causing dysregulation between the sympathetic and parasympathetic (rest and digest) systems. Osteopathy can address this too.
As an Advanced Paediatric Osteopath, Zoe Freshwater is able to assess and treat babies with competence. Keep following our Facebook and Instagram pages for more information relating to mums and bubs as well as our blogs.