During pregnancy the foetus grows in size and the fluids which support the growing child also increase. As we know, these changes result in a significantly enlarged uterus. As the uterus grows in size and volume so the rest of the body has to accommodate these changes. The lower spine becomes more curved forwards, the pelvis tends to tip forwards and these changes alter the posture of the upper spine, neck and shoulders.
If this is a second (or greater) pregnancy then the likelihood is that the postural changes will be greater as the ligaments and muscles are often not as well toned. The bigger the 'bump' the greater the postural demands will be. Do remember that a big bump does not necessarily mean a very big baby as the fluid volume can be large with a smaller baby.
The 9 months of pregnancy are months of continual change for the mother.
Each trimester brings with it its own trials and tribulations.
The early months bring the surprise and joy of finding yourself pregnant, the start of thinking about names and maybe coping with morning sickness.
The second trimester and you can start to really bloom! Energy levels can rise and you can feel great both physically and emotionally. During this time the spine has to start changing with the increasing size of 'the bump'.
The third trimester brings the joy of expectation, name clarification, and 'nest building' as the urge to repaint the future baby nursery/bedroom comes out of seemingly nowhere! This is also the time when your spine has to cope with the greatest demand with the ever growing bump. As you can see from the photo, postural changes become quite marked in the latter stages of pregnancy. (This lady looks like she is having her first child, so if this is your second pregnancy or more, then the postural changes are even greater than this photo demonstrates).
Osteopathic Treatment During Pregnancy
Osteopathic treatment during these special times, aims to allow the spine to cope as best as possible with the natural changes happening to your body. The ligaments, joints and muscles need to adapt to the increasing postural demands, especially in the latter stages. However even during the second trimester the spine is undergoing change and can be at risk if you over-do your activities.
Osteopathy: helping the pelvis prepare for the birth
To ensure that your pelvic muscles and joints are in the best level of health and suppleness, so that they can be ready for the demands of labour, osteopathic treatment, especially the gentle 'cranial' osteopathic approach is particularly recommended during this time.
If you wish to discuss your pregnancy and how osteopathic care can assist you, do give Tim a call.
Pregnancy and your back
As any mother in Kent, knows pregnancy is a time of amazing changes. Not only does a baby grow in pregnancy from a single cell to a human being ready for life, but the mother's body also makes amazing changes too. An important aspect of these changes are changes to her posture during pregnancy.
Tips and Advice on looking after your Back in Pregnancy
1. Acknowledge when you are tired and get plenty of rest. This rest is not only good for your back and muscles, but due to the greater physiological demands to feed a growing baby you will need greater rest. Also when tired you are less likely to notice when you are over working your back.
2. Do spinal and pelvic tilting exercises: Stand and tip your pelvis towards your navel, then relax. Do this 5-10 times then rest. Repeat 3 x daily. This will encourage a better carriage of 'the bump' and reduce back ache.
3. Be mindful of your neck and shoulder posture. As your lower spine increases its curvature, there will be a tendency to over flex the base of your neck. Do your best to be conscious of this happening and lengthen your neck (as if a hook was inserted into the top of your head and suspending you from the ceiling) to correct it.
4. Sit well supported in chairs or if sitting up in bed - especially in the third trimester. As discussed above, the lumbar spine will become more curved as the bump enlarges needing more support. SO keep some good cushions and pillows near your favorite chairs and take some to work for your office chair.
5. If you go to work though your pregnancy make sure you adjust the settings of your chair - see advice on 'adjusting your car seat' and apply this to your office chair too.
6. A regular osteopathic check up to make sure your spine is coping well with the demands of pregnancy is highly beneficial. During such visits treatment will also be given to ensure the pelvis tissues are getting ready for the 'big event' in the best way possible.
7. Do strongly consider bringing your baby along for an osteopathic consultation, when convenient after the birth. The birth journey does leave strains and stresses on the baby's tissues and your baby can suffer stress as a result. An osteopathic check up for both baby and Mum (to ensure Mum's pelvis settles back to its pre- pregnant state as effortlessly as possible) is highly advisable.