The body’s centre of gravity shifts during the second trimester of pregnancy. This postural adaptation is necessary to allow room for the growing baby. The pelvis will tilt forward increasing the arch in the lumbar spine. The shoulders may also fall forwards due to breast enlargement causing a forward head posture, this can lead to tension in the neck and shoulders. These postural changes may lead to aches and pains, which may be exacerbated by the hormone Relaxin.
The hormone Relaxin
Relaxin is secreted in the body after ovulation and throughout pregnancy, a high concentration in secreted in the first trimester. Its function is to ‘relax’ ligaments and tissues, especially in the pelvis, to prepare the mother for giving birth. However, it loosens all connective tissues within the body! Couple this is weight gain and postural adaptation, the musculoskeletal system is susceptible to strain.
As osteopaths we see a number of musculoskeletal problems during pregnancy. The most common presentations include:
- Lower back and sacroiliac joint pain
- Pelvic pain (SPD)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
- Rib sprains/restriction
- Upper back and neck tension
- Peripheral joint strains from ligament laxity
How may our osteopaths help?
Your osteopath will take a detailed case history including information about previous medical history, pregnancy progress and the presenting complaint. The patient will then be examined using movement and special tests to assess any areas of weakness, tenderness, restriction or strain. Once a diagnosis is made the practitioner will advise on a treatment approach. This is usually consists of gentle, hands on joint articulation and soft tissue massage. Exercises will be given where appropriate. Pregnant women usually respond well to treatment and may only need a few sessions.
What else can help?
- Keeping active
- Pregnancy yoga can be beneficial
- Staying hydrated
- Mindful eating
- Booking an osteopathic appointment!
Janine Norris, Specialist Paediatric Osteopath