Osteopathy for pregnancy, babies and children

The variety of techniques that osteopaths are trained to use allows for different treatment approaches, thus osteopathic treatment is appropriate for the treatment of new-born babies as well as for the pre and post natal mother.
For new born babies a more subtle and gentle approach is used, such as cranial, and for pre and post natal mothers the treatment approach will vary depending on your needs, wants, and wishes.

From the moment of conception the female body starts to change in preparation for carrying and giving birth to a child. During this time, many musculoskeletal (MSK)changes occur to accommodate the babys growth: spinal curves gradually increase, the pelvis tilts, the hips widen, the muscles of the back and legs tighten, while those of the abdomen are stretched, and various joints become restricted and the internal organs are gradually compressed. On top of this, hormones that are responsible for ligamentus laxity are released to help loosen the joints and prepare the pelvis for birth, which leads to hypermobility in some joints.

Due to the rapidity of change in MSK system, posture and the increasing weight of the baby, restrictions within the muscles and joints can become painful, and underlying problems can worsen. Due to these changes many future mothers suffer: pubic symphysis dysfunction; pain in their neck, back, hips, knees and ankles; swelling in their feet and ankles, hands and wrists; shortness of breath as the lungs, diaphragm and ribs are compressed and stretched; headaches, circulation problems, and gestational diabetes.

Post-natal, the hormones that are released to help keep your ligaments lax in preparation for birth continue to be released for up to 6 months after you stop breastfeeding. This means that MSK problems sustained during pregnancy can continue to cause discomfort even after the birthing process is complete, but it also means you are suseptable to new problems arising. The new routine of sleep and feeding your baby means you may not always have the awareness of your physical condition, but it is important to address these MSK problems before they develop into something worse.

How can osteopathy help?
Osteopathy can help manage you MSK complaints and help prevent more serious conditions like pubic symphysis dysfunction from developing. Furthermore, once the tight muscles are relaxed, the joints can move as free as possible and the pelvis is balanced – delivery is much easier, both for mother and baby.

Pre natal treatment is aimed at relaxing muscular tension and addressing restrictions in the joints of the back, ribs, pelvis and limbs. By doing this, body is more able to deal with the ongoing MSK changes that occur during the pregnancy. In this way you experience less stress and pain, but your body will be better prepared for birth.

Post natal treatment is aimed at recovery and stabilising your musculoskeletal system. The birthing process, although a natural process of life, is a highly traumatic event both physically and mentally. It is important to rebalance your body after so many physical changes have occurred, and to address any torsions or problems that have arisen.

Even without any complications the birthing process is traumatic. The babies’ soft skull and tiny body are squeezed through the birth canal, after having been in the engaged position for up to 3 weeks. The cranial sutures haven’t begun to ossify yet, and even a’ normal’ birthing process can compromise their position – any resulting inflammation can cause discomfort, and affect the cranial nerves as they leave the cranium. This means that even without birthing difficulties, your baby may have birthing traumas that need to be treated.

Slightly more complicated is if your baby has been in any prolonged or sustained position in the uterus, or a prolonged birth. Either of these can also lead to an imbalance in the musculoskeletal system, and this retained tension, compression or torsion from the intra-uterine position or birth can cause restriction and loss of movement that may lead to other systemic or musculoskeletal problems.

How can you tell if your baby needs osteopathic treatment?

You may notice that your baby prefers turning, sleeping or feeding more difficult on one side. This is due to restrictions, particularly head and neck, which cause some movements to be more difficult. You may notice that your baby has difficulties latching, feeding, passing wind, colicky symptoms, irritability or sleeplessness.

How can osteopathy help?

Osteopathic treatment will address the imbalances in your babys musculoskeletal system by addressing areas of tension, compression and restriction. By balancing these areas, your baby will be free from discomfort and will be able to feed and latch better, digest and pass wind better. Mothers who get osteopathic treatment for their babies see a reduction in their babies symptoms, as well as an increase in good mood and temperament.

The techniques used with babies are very gentle and subtle techniques that work to support your babies delicate system, and aims to encourage health, instead of forcing change.

Children grow at an amazing speed – their bones lengthen, muscles grow, and the nervous system becomes more and more complex. All of these changes and processes require a great amount of energy, coordination and balance. During these periods of rapid growth, any traumas sustained in childhood or retained from birth can become exaggerated, and worsen. Imbalances from growth or trauma can stay and continue into adulthood, causing problems in the future.

How can osteopathy help?

By addressing these areas of musculoskeletal change, osteopathy can help children and adolescents develop and grow with a balanced posture, free from restriction and dysfunction. This means they can continue their development pain free and active.

Osteopaths treat:
• Any joint and muscle pain
• Back and neck pain
• Sport and recreational injury
• Neuromuscular disorders
• Neuralgia
• Tendonitis and tendonosis (such as Achilles tendonitis)
• Osgood-Schlatter disease/syndrome
• snapping hip
• Headaches
• Sleep disorders

Osteopaths treat the symptoms and help to rebalance the musculoskeletal changes that occur in a wide variety of paediatric conditions, such as:
• Congenital and idiopathic scoliosis
• Spondylolisthesis
• Leg length discrepancy
• Slipped capital femoral epiphysis
• Perthes disease
• Kyphosis
• Trauma
• Genu valgum (‘knock knees’)
• Intoeing gait
• Pes planus (‘flat feet’)
• Developmental dysplasia of the hip