How can osteopathy help in pregnancy?

Many women experience back pain or sciatica, either with their pregnancy or after the delivery, which osteopathy can help relieve. Periodic treatment through pregnancy can help the body adjust to the increasing weight and changing posture. This can help prevent strain or stiffness occurring and may also lead to an easier delivery. Osteopaths can give advice to pregnant women on which positions may be most suitable for them during the different stages of labour.

Is the treatment safe?

Yes, Osteopathic treatment is safe for both the mother and the unborn baby. Indeed it offers relief from pain without the use of drugs, which most mothers prefer to avoid during pregnancy. Osteopaths receive training in medical diagnosis and are therefore able to identify any conditions that are not suitable for treatment. Because miscarriages are most common between the 12th and 16th week, some osteopaths choose not to treat during this period.

What happens during treatment?

The session will start with the osteopath taking a case history. This will include details of your present complaint: how it started and how it affects you, as well as questions about your general health and the pregnancy so far. The osteopath will then examine you, standing, sitting and lying down. This gives a detailed assessment of your spine, posture and muscle tone. The osteopath will then be able to make an accurate diagnosis and determine what treatment is required. The type of treatment used will vary from patient to patient depending on the condition involved. It may include stretching the muscles and gently moving the joints. Your osteopath may also use manipulation, where faster movements free restricted joints with a distinctive click. Sometimes working into tight or damaged tissues may be tender, but at no time should you feel any undue discomfort. At all times, you should feel free to ask any questions you may have about your problem or the treatment you are receiving.

Will I need my doctor's permission?

No. You will not need either your doctor's or your midwife's permission before seeing an osteopath. However, the medical professions are now more supportive of osteopathy and it is probably best if you let your doctor know that you are receiving treatment. Osteopathic treatment is in addition to your normal ante-natal care and is not a replacement. It is important that you attend your regular hospital and health centre appointments.

What about after the birth?

Most osteopaths who have been treating women through their pregnancy would recommend that they return at least once more after the birth. At this time the osteopath can check that the stresses of the delivery have not disturbed the functioning of the pelvis or low back. Your osteopath may also ask to examine your new baby. A long or difficult birth can be just as stressful on the baby, especially on the bones of the skull, which are still soft and mobile at this stage. Releasing any tensions on baby's body can often relieve discomfort that would otherwise be put down to colic or fretfulness.

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