There are the select few women who love being pregnant. They adore their changing bodies, take morning sickness with a stride, and do not mind their aching backs. Then again, they might have none of these symptoms associated with pregnancy and instead are part and parcel of those leading a charmed life. On the other side of the equation are those women who can keep barely any food down and struggle much like a beached whale to make it out of their cars or out of bed in the morning.
The problem with pain during pregnancy is the fact that painkillers are not an option for the pregnant woman. Many pain pills are associated with the potential for birth defects, and some may even factor into miscarriage. This is leading countless pregnant women to simply grin and bear it, knowing that it is only temporary and for a few months out of a lifetime. The advent of osteopathy, however, is offering another option to women in search of relief and because of the holistic approach this field of medicine takes, it is safe for both woman and unborn child.
Doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.s) are very careful when doing any musculoskeletal manipulation on a pregnant woman. Although safe, there is the underlying understanding that it is better to be overly cautious with all women in this condition that not cautious enough with even one. To this end, the manipulations are kept to a minimum while the teaching of proper relaxation and also stretching techniques is maximized. Osteopaths know that the pain is most commonly experienced in the middle of the night or in the morning, before the pregnant woman is even scheduled for an appointment, and enabling her to deal with such discomfort and pain when it strikes is a most important aspect of this kind of healing treatment.
As the patient learns proper stretching techniques, the flow of blood to joints and also muscles is increased. This eases the tension and pain in the lower back, where most pregnant women are experiencing the most severe pain. In addition, the osteopath will evaluate the range of motion and then prescribe specific exercises to preserve the current range and in some cases even increase it. Added to this are relaxations and techniques that assist the muscles in relaxing while being stretched, avoiding any muscle injuries or spasms in the process; women often report that they continue on with these exercises well after giving birth.
In some cases the osteopath will do soft tissue manipulations to help relieve some tension that is painfully contorting the pregnant patient’s overall bodily frame. The goal is to help her attain and maintain a correct posture during pregnancy and also afterwards. Posture is of course the number one reason why so many pregnant women experience such severe back aches, even when they are attempting to relax or actually sitting down comfortably. Of course, working closely with an obstetrician and letting her or him know the extent of the exercises the pregnant patient is undergoing is vital to the success of the treatment and also the safety of the patient and her child.