Osteopathic Treatment During Pregnancy

Women may seek osteopathic treatment during pregnancy for a variety of different reasons. 

From helping the body adjust and adapt with ease to the changes of pregnancy, managing pre-existing conditions, treatment of new aches and pains, to preparing the body to encourage positive labour and birth outcomes. 

Osteopathy is a manual treatment that embraces the link between body structure and wellness.

What to expect from your osteopathic appointment? 

It is advisable to arrive a little early for your first appointment, as you will need to fill out some paperwork. You will also be asked to sign a general consent form, but you will have the opportunity to consider and consent (or not) to specific treatment in the consultation. 

Your osteopath will initially take a comprehensive case history. This will b e followed by a full osteopathic assessment where motion tests are performed in addition to any necessary neurological or orthopedic testing.

Osteopathy takes a holistic approach to treatment, so your practitioner may look at other parts of your body, as well as the area that is troubling you during this assessment. We are also interested in what has worked for you previously, and whether you have any treatment preferences. 

Following this an osteopathic diagnosis will be made and discussed with you, allowing you to ask any questions you may have. We will explain how we would like to approach the treatment, as well as gain your consent before treatment.

You should let us know immediately, even during the treatment, if you would like to change or stop and discuss the treatment we are giving you. 

Every treatment is different and tailored to the individual’s needs and comfort levels. Osteopaths have a wide variety of manual techniques which they use to treat various complaints. Osteopathic treatment in pregnancy may include:

  • Soft tissue releases and/or massage
  • Gentle stretching
  • Gentle joint movements 
  • Muscle energy techniques (used to lengthen tight, contracted muscles)
  • Counterstain (releases tight muscles by positioning the affected muscle in a shortened position to stretch the opposing muscles)
  • Joint manipulation where appropriate and only when the patient is comfortable with the technique
  • Taping where necessary
  • At home exercise and/or stretching advice. 

Your position during treatment will vary with the technique being used as well as your stage of pregnancy.

Early in pregnancy you may be still comfortable lying on your abdomen. However as you progress through your pregnancy, most treatment is performed lying on your side, seated, or occasionally laying on your back with your right hip lifted slightly by a pillow.

At the end of the treatment, your osteopath will reassess the initial movements you performed so we can see how effective the treatment has been.

Your osteopath may organise a return consultation and may give you some stretches and exercises to do at home to help speed up your recovery or improve your body’s function. 

How many treatments will I need? 

The number of treatments needed depends on how long you have had the presenting problem, how severe it is, and how your body responds to treatment.

Through years of experience helping women through their pregnancy we have found women will often gain greater benefit from regular osteopathic treatment rather than seeking treatment with the sudden onset of pain.

This is usually every 4-6weeks during the early stages of the pregnancy and may be more frequent towards the end as your baby grows and as you start preparing your body for labour and birth. 

Is osteopathic treatment safe in pregnancy? 

Our osteopath has a passion for treating and supporting women through their pregnancy.

She combines her osteopathic skills with her knowledge and experience as a registered midwife, allowing her to compassionately and safely treat and support you through all the stages of pregnancy and the postnatal period. 

The techniques used during pregnancy are carefully selected to minimise risk. These techniques are gentle and the comfort of the mother is always taken into consideration and may be adapted to suit each patient. 

Please note, although osteopathic care is generally consider safe during pregnancy, if your pregnancy is considered high risk, we advise you check with your general practitioner, midwife or obstetrician before seeking care from any manual therapy modality.  

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

Comfortable clothes. Depending on the area of your body requiring examination some disrobing may be required, but at all times you will be draped with towels.

It is essential you feel comfortable, so you may want to bring or wear a pair of leggings or stretching gym shorts to the session. 

Medicare referral if applicable, private health insurance and any relevant imaging results (x-rays etc). 

Should I have a postnatal osteopathic treatment after the birth of my baby?

The weeks after birth can be challenging as you embrace your new normal and connect with the amazing changes pregnancy and birth have gifted you.

Osteopathic treatment can also help with pain and discomfort associated with breastfeeding posture, lifting car capsules and prams, carrying and settling your baby, and bending over the bassinet or cot.

Osteopathy helps restore balance, posture and release tension, improving your health, recovery and mindset as you look after your new baby. A happy and healthy mother is the centre of a functioning family.

This is the perfect time to seek treatment to restore alignment and prevent ongoing issues, such as back problems, stress incontinence, constipation and menstruation issues. Abdominal muscle separation and pelvic floor weakness are also common problems after pregnancy and birth.

Many women are unsure if they are able to have treatment before their six week postnatal check up with their doctor.

Unless you have any significant postnatal complications we consider treatment before this time safe, even after a caesarean section, and will tailor all treatments to suit the women and the presenting condition.

Written by Katie Wood, Osteopath at Nurtured Birth

7 Benefits Of Meditation During Pregnancy

Meditation during pregnancy has many wonderful benefits for you and your baby. 

Pregnancy comes with a huge range of emotional ups and downs. You can feel happy, sad, anxious and elated – all in the span of an hour. 

The physical changes your body is experiencing and the life changes that come about with welcoming a new baby into your family – all this can make you feel worried and stressed, even though there’s so many positives too. 

Meditation during pregnancy can bring you to a centred space that allows you to step back from the emotional rollercoaster. 

#1. Reduce stress and anxiety

Being pregnant is so exciting. But let’s be real – it can also make you really anxious and stressed. Most pregnant women worry a lot about things out of their control, and even ones that they can do something about. Pregnancy hormones add their own special slant to things.  It’s not uncommon for women to feel as though they’re bouncing between emotions. 

Meditation and mindfulness creates a daily space where mamas-to-be can shift from being in a constant fight or flight state, to centred and calm. Research shows meditation during pregnancy can reduce your body’s stress response, helping to bring down cortisol levels. This allows your body to settle into a calm and peaceful state. 

#2. Lower heart rate and blood pressure

Too much stress can elevate your cortisol levels and blood pressure. High blood pressure can have very negative effects during pregnancy, for you and your baby. When your blood pressure is high, it decreases the amount of blood flow to the placenta. This can mean your baby doesn’t get as much nutrient and oxygen, leading to slow growth, premature birth or low birth weight. 

Meditation is a wonderful way to access your inner calm to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. By promoting lower levels of stress, you are also keeping inflammation at bay. 

#3. Up your inner resilience

As said earlier, pregnancy throws plenty of challenges into your path. Whether it is dealing with a different ache every day or the rollercoaster of moods that is pregnancy…meditation helps you to build and maintain your inner resilience. 

Research has shown people who engage in meditation and mindfulness have higher levels of psychological resilience – in other words being able to adapt to stress and adversity. 

Meditation won’t make a sore pelvis or crying at all-the-things go away, but it does make it easier for you to cope and deal with these ups and downs. 

#4. Deep connection with baby

Mindful meditation allows you to create the space and time to sit quietly and restfully – providing the ability to dive deep into connection with your baby. You might visualise your baby, hold your hands over your belly or whisper positive affirmations.

This connection during pregnancy brings into play a powerful tool you can use in labour, when you are travelling deep into yourself during contractions – working with your body and baby. 

#5. Body awareness

There is so much happening to your body during pregnancy it can feel overwhelming at times. During labour and birth, sensation can be all you know and being able to focus your attention away from feeling overwhelmed can be a positive benefit from meditation.This mindfulness on the space between contractions encourages and restores you in those moments when you feel challenged. Being aware of your body during pregnancy gives you the awareness to seek support if you sense something isn’t right.  you to seek 

#6. Postnatal recovery 

Many new mamas are genuinely unprepared for how they will feel after giving birth. Elated and in love with their baby, but also exhausted and challenged by the responsibility of the tiny human they’ve created. 

Many women experience baby blues in the week after they give birth, and reports show at least 20% of new mamas develop postnatal depression (with many experts thinking this number is actually much higher). 

Mindfulness provides mamas with the opportunity to understand what their needs are and reach out for support. 

#7. Face the birth fear

There are few women who aren’t at some point worried or even scared about giving birth. It’s a very normal part of pregnancy, even for mamas who have birthed before. Fear of birth can increase stress and create a situation where the brain gets in the way of the body during labour. Pain relief is more likely to be requested, and labour can even be prolonged when a woman is experiencing deep fear. 

Meditation and mindfulness during pregnancy provides you with the opportunity to uncover your fears and bring awareness of your body and its capabilities. It’s also been shown in small studies to encourage women to be more aware of their bodies during labour and feel more satisfied with their birth experience after. 

How to bring meditation into your life

Now you’re aware of how beneficial meditation and mindfulness is during pregnancy, how do you go about bringing more of it into your life? 

First, start as soon as you can. It’s never too early or too late to weave meditative practice into your daily pregnancy routine. The benefits of meditation can be experienced immediately. However when mediation becomes a regular practice then you really start to experience the life-transforming benefits. 

Nurtured Birth provides meditations sessions for pregnant women that are simple and deeply enjoyable. You don’t need to have any previous meditation experience, just a willingness to go deep into your inner space. All you need is a comfortable and quiet place to sit (depending on how pregnant you are this might be cross-legged on the floor, in a chair or even lying on your side). 

To dive into this space of connection with Sarah at Nurtured Birth, please contact us.