Osteopathy in Pregnancy
Osteopathy supports the postural and physiological changes taking place during pregnancy. As pregnancy progresses, the growing uterus together with hormonal changes in the ligaments may cause old problems to recur or may contribute towards new problems, especially lower back pain. Osteopathy is effective in restoring good alignment making your pregnancy more comfortable.
Common reasons why women see an osteopath during pregnancy include back pain; pelvic pain (including pubic symphysis dysfunction – SPD); diaphragm and rib pain; breathing restrictions; nausea and heartburn. Osteopathy may also be used to work on other problems during pregnancy such as local circulatory and digestive problems.
The treatment of pregnant women is gentle, including rhythmic mobilization of joints; relaxation and stretching of muscles; soft tissue massage and subtle indirect release techniques. Your treatment will be tailored to encourage normal function and balance during your progressing pregnancy. Gentle osteopathic techniques are beneficial and safe at all stages in the pregnancy.
Preparation for labour
Osteopaths check your pelvis to ensure it is balanced and to facilitate optimum health in preparation for labour. While helping you and your body prepare for the birth I also assess and integrate optimal positioning and growth for your baby within the uterus to further assist the smooth passage through the birth canal during delivery.
Delivery places considerable demands on the pelvis, particularly after a prolonged labour or a delivery with the assistance of forceps or ventouse. Unresolved strains in your pelvis can contribute to ongoing back and pelvic pain, neck pain, headaches and general fatigue. A caesarean delivery is major abdominal surgery and your body needs optimum pelvic health and balance to assist recovery.
As your child grows, breast-feeding posture and mastitis can place postural strain on your body and can lead to general back and chest aches and pains.
Gentle osteopathic treatment helps restore balance of the musculoskeletal system and pelvic health following childbirth. It can assist your recovery from the postural and hormonal changes of pregnancy, supporting the natural healing process and allowing you to relax and enjoy your baby.
Osteopathy for Babies
Childbirth places considerable force on the baby’s head, neck and spine. A long or difficult birth with forceps or ventouse can take its toll on the baby’s body, as can a very fast or caesarean delivery. Residual birth strains can cause discomfort in the newborn and may contribute to common childhood problems including: colic; reflux; feeding and digestive difficulties; plagiocephaly (flattening of one side of the head); teething difficulties; torticollis; sleep disturbances; or general unsettledness and irritability.
I feel passionate that newborn babies should see a specialist paediatric osteopath in the first few weeks after the birth to assist the natural unmoulding process, and bring your baby’s body into balance quickly. The newborn period provides a unique window of opportunity whereby I strongly believe a gentle nudge in the right direction can influence the developmental path going forwards.
Osteopathic assessment of babies considers all aspects of your baby’s health from the point of conception, the growth and development of your baby during pregnancy, birth and delivery through to childhood. After taking a detailed case history your baby’s development will be assessed, this will involve some specific reflex/mobility testing followed by a gentle structural examination. We will discuss the assessment and diagnosis together as I feel it is so important you understand what I have found and what I hope to achieve with treatment.
Very specific gentle release techniques, including cranial osteopathy, will be applied wherever necessary to encourage the natural ability of the body to release stress and tension and return to a more balanced, healthy alignment. Treatment is extremely gentle and is safe for the smallest of babies.
Sometimes the newborn period is more complex, perhaps related to prematurity or specific paediatric conditions; support from a specialist trained paediatric osteopath alongside other management teams may be beneficial to your baby.
As your child grows, you may notice signs of asymmetry in your baby or child such as a misshapen head; their ears may not be level and one may stick out more; eyes may be a different size; they may show a preference to breast feed to one side; show difficulty turning their head to one side; crawl with one foot tucked under the other or walk with one foot turned in. These imbalances may benefit from osteopathic assessment and treatment.
If your child is delayed in reaching the normal developmental milestones then your child may not be achieving its full potential. Paediatric osteopaths are trained to assess these developmental stages in infants and children. There may be contributing physical reasons for a delay, which may benefit from osteopathic treatment. For example, stiffness in the spine and pelvis can make it difficult for a baby to learn to crawl.
Osteopathy for Children
Osteopathic assessments during childhood focus on the importance of growing and developing in a balanced and healthy way and on helping children achieve their full potential.
As your child grows the effect of a difficult birth or the inevitable childhood bumps and falls, can make them more vulnerable to other health problems. Children can complain of aches and pains in different parts of the body including headaches and growing pains. Or perhaps as a parent you notice that something is ‘out of character’ or just not right with your child’s health or behaviour. I take these concerns seriously as there is usually a reason for them.
Imbalances, strains and restrictions in the musculoskeletal system of the growing child may cause discomfort and influence the normal growth and development in different ways. Maintaining good mobility and balance helps provide an optimum physical environment for the body to function and develop. I also believe that regular monitoring of the developing child – much like a dental or eye check up – can help prevent problems later in life.
As an experienced paediatric osteopath I have some patients with long-term health problems and disabilities. I believe osteopathic treatment can help all children be as well as possible and support them to function to their fullest ability, whatever health issues they have. For example, they may benefit from osteopathic treatment for muscle spasm and pain, or treatment for their jaw or neck pain from tooth grinding. Similarly, a child with sensory processing disorders may find their growing pains or backache much more debilitating than their peers, which osteopathy can help address.
Osteopathy for Adolescents
Growth and development in the teenage years can be a rocky road. Skeletal growth is often sporadic and may at times be quite rapid. This can upset previous imbalances or exaggerate existing strain patterns through the body, resulting in spinal or joint pain, muscular pain and tension headaches.
Factors such as increasing computer work; carrying heavy school bags; increasingly demanding sporting activity; hormonal changes and educational pressure can all increase tension in the body and affect the developing spine. Teenagers also often slouch and have poor posture.
In addition, orthodontic work can change the mechanics around the face and cranium, which can upset the balance of the motion in the cranial bones and upset patterns through the body.
As an osteopath I gently support the body to develop free of stress and strain supporting optimum balanced growth both physically and emotionally.
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