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