Pregnancy – not an illness, right?
Being pregnant is a real cause for celebration, especially if it’s taken a little while to conceive. And, what with work and the other demands of our 24/7 modern lifestyles, it’s tempting to try to carry on ‘as normal’. But that’s not going to be so easy if you’re feeling sick, tired, beset with back pain, swollen ankles or heartburn – and stressed because your body isn’t behaving like it used to.
Creating new life takes its toll
Of course, pregnancy is an entirely natural process that women have gone through for thousands of years. But let’s not underestimate the sheer effort involved in forming a new human being from scratch within 40 weeks. The body transforms itself to create an environment in which a growing fetus can survive and thrive. In the latter stages your organs are basically tucked up against your ribs and your body is hefting around an extra 20 lb of baby, fluid and placenta!
Aches and pains are common, while the release of the hormone Relaxin makes the body more vulnerable to strains arising from postural change, often causing discomfort in the lower back, neck, head, ribs and legs plus shortness of breath and indigestion. If you weren’t pregnant you might reach for a painkiller or two – but that’s not an option now. Happily, both osteopathy and acupuncture can help with pain relief, and much more besides.
Recreating the peace of the womb
Our ancestors knew a thing or two about the need to rest before and after the birth. The better-off took to their beds for the last few weeks for their ‘confinement’ or ‘lying in’. This involved staying in a warm, dark and quiet room with the medical help only available from other women or a midwife!
Enjoying a happy and healthy pregnancy
Everyone experiences pregnancy and birth in a unique way and the important thing is to listen to your body. Here are a few tips for how to make your pregnancy the best and healthiest that it can be:
- Get plenty of rest: people advise you to put your feet up for a reason! If you’re tired, succumb to it – go to bed, lie on the sofa with a book or your favourite show and ask family and friends to help with older children or chores. Relax with stretching, deep breathing, massage and visualization.
- Eat well: while you may have cravings for ‘unhealthy’ food, try to include plenty of protein, fruit, vegetables and fluids in your diet.
- Keep moving: regular gentle exercise can increase your energy and blood flow, improve your mood, help you cope with strains on joints and changes to posture, maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress on the baby during labour and delivery. Try swimming, yoga or Pilates, while walking during the third trimester can encourage the baby’s head to move into the cervix ahead of labour.
- Exercise your pelvic floor: avoid urinary incontinence by strengthening the ring of muscles at the base of your pelvis (that supports your bladder, vagina and anus) via regular pelvic floor exercises. Try eight or ten pelvic floor squeezes, three times daily.
- Ease backache: lie on your side with your knees bent, placing a wedge-shaped pillow under your bump to ease strain on your back.
- Lower your expectations: celebrities have an army of childminders, helpers, stylists and personal trainers to get them back into shape. The rest of us can do this over time with gentle exercises after the birth, working your way up to your usual regime. Never underestimate the physical and emotional demands of a newborn baby, especially if you are breast-feeding!
At all stages of pregnancy, strains and symptoms can be treated safely and gently using osteopathy, to maximise the body’s ability to adapt to pregnancy-related changes. I also advise on exercise and posture, both before and after the birth. And, using fine needles, acupuncture can successfully treat nausea, back, neck, head and labour pains, indigestion and emotional problems, promote relaxation and maintain correct blood flow to the uterus to meet the growing baby’s needs.
What our clients say
New dad Mark Pendleton said: “We first used Denise’s services when my wife was facing the prospect of having an emergency caesarean because our baby was breach. A friend recommended acupuncture; after one – relatively painless – session, Denise somehow persuaded the baby to turn herself round. Nell was born naturally two weeks later.”
If you’re pregnant and would like to relieve aches, pains and pregnancy-related symptoms, please get in touch.