It’s not uncommon for women to feel pain and discomfort during the course of their nine-month pregnancy.  The body undergoes an enormous change and we don’t just mean the physical appearance, it’s the hormones too!

Postural adaptation

During the second trimester the body’s centre of gravity will shift, adaptation of posture occurs to allow room for the growing baby. The pelvis tilts forward increasing the arch in the lower back and the shoulders may become rounded due to breast enlargement. This can lead to a forward head posture creating tension in the neck and shoulders. No wonder aches and pains occur during pregnancy and coupled with the hormone Relaxin, more problems can arise.

What is Relaxin?

Relaxin is a hormone secreted after ovulation and throughout pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester. Its role is to ‘relax’ ligaments and tissues, especially around the pelvis, to prepare the mother for delivery. However, given the hormone is secreted into the blood stream, it loosens all ligaments and tissues within the body! Together with weight gain and postural adaptations, the musculoskeletal system is susceptible to strain and ultimately, pain.

Musculoskeletal Complaints

As osteopaths we see a number of musculoskeletal problems during pregnancy.  The most common presentations include:

•    Lower back and sacroiliac joint pain
•    Pelvic pain (SPD)
•    Sciatica
•    Rib sprains
•    Upper back and neck tension
•    Headaches
•    Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)

How may our osteopaths help?

Osteopaths record a detailed case history including information about medical history, pregnancy progress and the presenting complaint. They then examine the patient to find any areas of weakness, tenderness, restriction or strains. Once a diagnosis is made the practitioner will advise on the best treatment approach. This is usually gentle, hands on treatment, but may also be coupled with exercise and nutritional information. Pregnant women usually respond well to treatment and may only need a few sessions.

What else can help?

•    Keep active
•    Consider a pregnancy yoga class
•    Keep hydrated
•    Eat healthily
•    Book an osteopathic appointment!

By Janine Norris,
Associate Osteopath