As chiropractic, osteopathy and physiotherapy treatments grow in popularity, Suzie Skipper finds out from the experts how they can support your body during pregnancy.
All three treatments come under the term ‘manual therapies’ and the way care is provided is very similar. They all aim to improve physical health and well-being and are non-invasive and drug-free. There are, however, some differences.
CHIROPRACTORS base their care on the detection, correction and prevention of spinal dysfunction (subluxations i.e. when a vertebra is out of its normal position). They use specific spinal adjustments to improve and restore proper nervous system function and remove nerve interference to improve the body’s overall health.
OSTEOPATHY is a system of manual diagnosis and treatment to help re-establish the body’s normal function. The philosophy of osteopathy is to treat the whole person, not only specific symptoms, using gentle manipulative techniques. Osteopathic treatment may help to alleviate pain from injury and chronic conditions, as well as from joint, muscular and skeletal imbalances of the body.
PHYSIOTHERAPY can involve a number of different treatments and preventative approaches, including manual therapy, movement, exercise and advice depending on the specific problem. They will often employ an approach described as ‘bio-psycho-social’ meaning that treatment is directed to the person as a whole.
A huge amount happens to a woman’s body in a short amount of time during pregnancy. Therefore, it is no surprise that this is perhaps one of the most important times to have a treatment. “Symptoms such as lower back or pelvic girdle pain are common in pregnancy, however there is no reason to put up with it as there is help out there,“ says Stephen Hughes, Director and Chiropractor
at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic.
Besides various postural changes associated with a growing bump, there are also hormonal changes that ‘loosen’ off ligaments, which can lead to pelvic instability, as well as a host of muscles that must work harder to offset the ligament laxity. “Chiropractic, and more specifically the ‘Webster Technique’, is a specific sacral analysis and adjustment of the pelvis in order to facilitate normal pelvic alignment and nerve system function,” explains Dr Ami-Bree Said, Chiropractor at Chiro London.
IS IT SAFE?
Having a treatment by a qualified practitioner is perfectly safe, even during the first trimester. “Whoever you see will go through a thorough history and examination before beginning gentle and specific care,” explains Ami-Bree.
Physiotherapist Georgie Adams, who specialises in Women’s Health at Six Physio, says that pregnancy treatment usually takes place either seated or lying down on your side with lots of pillows or support. “Joint pain from the relaxin hormone can start as early as 12-14 weeks and because we are trained in that area, we know what is safe to do and what is not,” says Georgie.
Specialist Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapist, Katie Jeitz, at Central Health Physiotherapy, says it is much easier to help women if they attend earlier in pregnancy. “If women come in to see us when they are lighter, it is easier to start a good pelvic floor training programme and correct any postural habits such as an increased lower back arch which can worsen as you get heavier.”
READY FOR LABOUR
Seeing a physio before birth can help with getting ready for labour, says Georgie. “We can assist with helping women find good positions for labour and show them how to do perineal massage, to help the perineum stretch more easily during labour which might reduce the chances of a tear or an
episiotomy,” says Georgie.