Postural changes in pregnancy

Being pregnant is a momentous time, but for many women it’s also a time of feeling exhausted and increasingly uncomfortable. Enormous physical, hormonal and emotional changes take place within a relatively short space of time as the body adapts to carrying up to an extra 10 – 12kg.

Pregnancy gives rise to the biggest postural changes that the body will ever experience, all of which are needed for a woman to be able to maintain balance whilst in an upright position.

Back pain while pregnant

After the first three months of pregnancy, there is no longer enough room in the pelvis for the uterus, which moves upwards and forwards. The additional weight causes the abdominal muscles to become stretched to lose their tone, which reduces their ability to maintain a neutral posture.

This also shifts the centre of gravity forward, causing the arch in the lower back (lumbar lordosis) to become more pronounced. To counteract this, the supporting muscles of the back start to work harder to try and hold the shoulders back and lift the tummy. A common result of this is low back pain.

Headaches during pregnancy

Because the head and shoulders are being pulled forwards, there can be compression of the structures at the base of the skull, and also of the joints at the base of the neck. This can lead to neck pain and headaches.

Pelvic, hip and groin pain in pregnancy

As the pregnancy progresses, production of the hormone Relaxin increases in order to enable the pelvis to accommodate your enlarging uterus. The resulting ‘joint laxity’ weakens the supporting ligaments of the lower back, and can result in back pain coming from the discs and the facet joints.

Furthermore, during pregnancy the joint at the front of the pelvis (pubic symphysis) continues to widen in order to allow the passing of the baby’s head during birth. Dysfunction in this joint may be felt in the pubic bone and in the lower abdomen, with discomfort spreading under the pelvic floor. The pain can range from a dull ache to a stabbing pain, especially when squatting, climbing stairs, rolling over in bed or a lateral separation of the legs.

Visiting an osteopath for treatment during pregnancy

Pregnancy does not only cause the changes mentioned above, it also affects every other part of the body; digestive tract, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, hormones, fascia, muscles, ligaments, nervous system, and so on.
And it’s this ‘whole body’ view that makes osteopathy well suited for helping address pain and discomfort in pregnancy, which is so common that it’s usually just accepted as a normal part of pregnancy.

You don’t need to suffer!

As an osteopath, I will not only examine your spine, pelvis and the muscles around them, but I will also assess your

  • Uterus (and the ligaments that attach to your spine and pelvis)
  • Digestive tract (which has been forced into a whole new position by the growing uterus)
  • Legs and feet (because of the extra weight and support they are providing
  • Diaphragm (which is under increased strain)
  • Head and neck (there are many possible connections here)

Osteopathic treatment involves gentle techniques to alleviate discomfort and correct the cause of any problems. Osteopathy is perfectly safe during all stages of a pregnancy, helping to improve your quality of life and enabling you to enjoy pregnancy as much as possible.

Post-natal osteopathy

And after your baby is born, a post-natal check can also help you to recover from the birth. At this point, osteopathic treatment is aimed at gently easing any tired and sore muscles, and rebalancing the pelvis. It can also help to ease any back pain that results from breast feeding and lifting your baby.

To discover more about the benefits of osteopathy during pregnancy…

Speak to Stephanie at The Pain Relief Clinic in Hassocks on 01273 04 78 81

And also, you can click here to find out about osteopathy for babies at the Pain Relief Clinic.

Photo courtesy of Anastasiia Chepinska on