Osteopathy during pregnancy

What to expect (from your osteopath) when you're expecting.

by Laura Chapman, September 2021

Agility Osteopathy South Melbourne - Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a very special time for an expectant mother. No doubt you’re feeling excited, nervous, anxious and maybe even a little nauseous.

Here are a few handy tips to help you better understand the dietary requirements, exercise expectations and physical stresses associated with pregnancy, and how osteopathy can help.

Dietary requirements

The phrase “eating for two” is commonly used throughout pregnancy.

But is it true?

Pregnancy places extra nutritional demands on your body. However your body doesn’t actually require any extra calories in the first two trimesters. In the third trimester you only need about 200 extra calories per day – equal to a glass of milk or two slices of bread. The extra calories provide energy and nutrients for your baby as well as enabling your body to support all the extra functions of pregnancy (including growing a placenta, increasing blood volume and the formation of amniotic fluid).

While we like to think we’re eating for two, in actual fact, it’s quite the myth. Pregnancy doesn’t mean eating twice as much, but rather, focusing on eating nutrient rich foods to ensure premium nutrition to support you and your growing baby. Just as our mothers told us “you are what you eat”, the quality of your nutrition directly correlates with the health of your growing baby.

General recommendations:

  1. Include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, preferably of the organic variety to ensure premium quality
  2. Include moderate amounts of dairy and lean meat
  3. Increase water intake to 2L per day
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol completely
  5. Avoid foods prone to Listeria contamination:
    1. Un-pasteurised soft cheese (brie, camembert, ricotta)
    2. Pre-cooked or pre-prepared cold foods that will not be reheated (pre-prepared salads, deli meats, fish, quiches)
    3. Raw egg (mayonnaise, tiramisu, custard, mousse)
    4. Sushi in any form due to the high potential of contamination from food preparation

Exercise expectations

Generally speaking, pregnancy should not slow down your exercise routine in its initial stages. Whilst it may need to be modified slightly, exercise is a crucial part of maintaining your body’s health during pregnancy. It is important to maintain adequate hydration, wear cool clothing to avoid excessive body temperature and keep an eye on your heart rate and blood pressure.

Some activities that are generally safe during pregnancy, even for beginners, include walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, dancing and pilates. If you are unsure as to whether these exercises are safe and appropriate for you to engage in, don’t hesitate to discuss it with our osteopaths.

Physical changes

Aches and pains are common during pregnancy, as the body goes through significant changes in a relatively short period of time. In some women, postural changes may promote body aches and pains, fluid retention and increased fatigue.

The most common conditions we tend to see throughout pregnancy are:

Lower back pain
Sciatica (pain down the legs)
Sacroiliac pain
Pelvic girdle and pubic symphysis pain
Rib pain
Shoulder and upper back pain
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

As you continue into your second trimester, your body releases a hormone called relaxin.This allows your ligaments to soften and stretch, helping your body adapt to its changing posture. The laxity in ligaments can, however, increase the likelihood of strain elsewhere in your body, and care must be taken, particularly during exercise.

As you waddle towards the third trimester, everything is starting to feel heavy. Your baby is growing well and testing its acrobatic skills. As they take up more space, there is less room for them to move about. This may mean that you experience the occasional foot in your ribs, or elbow to your diaphragm whilst your baby is preparing to engage with their head leading down into your pelvis. Your posture and ability to physically adapt to your baby’s needs becomes a crucial factor in the lead up to birth. Our osteopaths will help support these postural changes by identifying regions in your body that are either not moving enough or moving too much. We use a variety of gentle hands-on techniques and rehabilitation exercises to improve mobility and relieve stress in muscles, tendons and ligaments, helping your body to successfully adapt to changes throughout your pregnancy.

Is Osteopathy safe?

Not only is osteopathy safe during pregnancy, but it is well recommended. Particular care is taken when positioning and treating each and every expectant mother to ensure that treatment is comfortable, safe and effective.

Our treatment involves gentle manual therapy partnered with personalised, targeted exercises to get you feeling your best.

If you have any questions or would like to hear more about how osteopathy can help you on your pregnancy journey, contact us at the clinic.

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