We hear a lot about how to look after yourself when you are pregnant but what about looking after your body during that first year of motherhood? With the new babe stealing the show it is easy to forget or find time to look after your own self yet we know it should be a priority. At Sequence Osteopathy, we understand the demands on a mother’s body and treat many patients with young kids. There are some common complaints we see in clinic.
Dr Rachel Perry says that in the post partum/birth period (approx 6 weeks) a woman’s body is undergoing a great re-coiling process. Her pelvis is re-stabilsing, her uterus contracting back to its normal position and her posture re-adjusting from carrying a baby out front in her pelvis to nursing a baby in her arms and managing breastfeeding. “Whether a woman has a natural vaginal birth or a caesarean there are some common problems that can arise.” says Dr Perry.”We often see women with low back or pelvic pain as a result of birthing following the stresses on the pelvis as the baby passes through the birth canal.As the pelvic joints stretch to their limits during birth they then re-coil back and not always into the most optimal alignment.” says Dr Perry, “Low back, hip, coccyx or pubic pain can arise.” Let’s not forgot the pelvic floor and how it might be feeling after the important supportive role its played.
Following a caesarean a woman may be more sedentary than she would like as she heals her abdominal region where the surgery took place. This can also affect how the low back is feeling and it is common to feel weak and sore. Dr Perry recommends Osteopathic treatment in this early phase. It is very gentle and we work to help encourage joint and muscle re-alignment and ease in the body after the stressors of birth.
A very common complaint we hear from mothers is pain or discomfort in the upper back and neck region. In the early stages mothers spend many hours a day feeding their babies be it by breast or bottle. Prolonged periods of nursing your baby can leave your upper back feeling stiff and painful with some mums describing a feeling of burning discomfort through the bra strap region both during the day and keeping them awake at night.
In clinic, we see the thoracic spine become quite stiff and rounded often leading to poor posture. Using gentle joint manipulation and mobility techniques your osteopath aims to improve movement and ease soft tissue tension. This will also help to keep the neck more comfortable and optimise rib cage mobility and therefor drainage through the breast minimising the risk of a blockage occurring.
And finally Dr Perry reminds us to be kind to your body after having a baby. Give it time to heal and re-coil, nourish yourself with good food and when your body feels ready take the time to strengthen it, starting slowly and focusing on restoring balance, strength and stability to your pelvis and spine, your posture and your body will thank you for it.