A shout out to all mums-to-be, although dads are more than welcome - Exciting times ahead!
We all know that pregnancy is not an illness; it is the most beautiful thing, but it can be physically and emotionally challenging. Osteopaths, as primary health care professionals, we are here to help you. Having worked with pregnant women for a few years now, we want to provide you with a list of top ten tips - what is good for you during pregnancy and how osteopathy can help.
1. Talk about your feelings/needs
Being pregnant means change, you and your partner are transitioning from being a couple to becoming parents and living with a new tiny person you’ve never met before. As an expecting mother, you will have different needs than before. Be honest about your feelings, your needs and fears. It is acceptable to say “NO“ to certain tasks, meetings and so on.
2. Consider what you are eating
Wash all fruits/vegetables/herbs - unwashed foods can carry potentially harmful bacteria and diseases like toxoplasmosis, salmonella and so on. Those germs cause potential risk to you and your baby’s health. However, you should eat lots of fruits and vegetables, milk, fibres and lean meat. You do not have to eat for two, just eat as you normally would. You might find that with the later stages of pregnancy you find it easier to eat smaller portions more frequently. Before taking any supplements, which shouldn’t be necessary with a balanced diet, please speak to your obstetrician, GP or midwife.
3. Morning sickness and what could help
You probably know all about morning sickness and anti-sickness bands, tablets and so on. But is there anything that really helps? We found that patients report that having a snack, fruit or a sugary drink (in the first trimester) on the bedside table can be helpful. You should be eating/drinking some of your treats when you wake and wait for a few minutes to let the sugar hit your system. This can help you to get up easier and feel less sick when getting up. It also could help to eat cold foods over warm foods. Having freshly cut / dried lemons and other citrusy fruits around the house/ in your handbag could be a lifesaver for that sudden sickness. The citrusy odour helps to soothe your olfactory nerves and settle your stomach.
4. Other common pregnancy “side effects“
Heartburn/indigestion: about 50% of all pregnant women report reflux or heartburn at any stage throughout the pregnancy. It doesn’t cause any harm, but if it persists or is too painful, please contact your pharmacist/midwife/GP. They will provide you with advice and medications, alternatively come and see an osteopath. Heartburn could be reduced by reducing coffee intake, fizzy drinks, spice and fatty foods. Constipation: again about 50% of pregnant women report some form of constipation throughout the pregnancy, symptoms include stomach aches, cramps, haemorrhoids and rectal bleeding. It could be relieved by eating fibres, fruits, vegetables and drinking lots of water. It can help to have a “toilet routine” which means, going to the toilet to pass stools at the same time every day. Before taking any laxatives, please consult your pharmacist/midwife/GP.
5. Reasons to maintain some activity level
It’s important to keep up with some form of activity during pregnancy. It helps with good posture, better self-esteem, better muscle tone, reduces back pain, better sleep, avoids excessive weight gain, reduces risks of gestational diabetes, reduces thrombosis/varicose veins. It could also lead to an easier birth and quicker recovery.
NB: If you haven’t been very active before the pregnancy don’t try to become an Olympian while pregnant. Slow and steady progression into physical activity is always the key.
6. Brilliant exercise for expectant mums
Swimming, walking in the park, yoga and pilates (taught by an ante-natal specialised instructor), gentle stretching and cycling on a stationary bike. Those activities have a small risk of injury and can help you to stay active both cardio and strength wise.
7. Why osteopathy could help
As the female body undergoes many changes throughout the pregnancy and due to a hormonal rollercoaster, it is very likely to experience some musculoskeletal pain at any stage
of pregnancy. It is very common to experience lower back pain in the third trimester when the bump is growing and the point of central gravity shifts towards the front. Expectant mums also report that with an increase in breast tissue and curvature of the upper back they develop mid-thoracic pain. Furthermore, many pregnant women complain about reflux, carpal tunnel syndrome and pelvic girdle pain.
All the above-mentioned symptoms could be treated by a range of osteopathic techniques which include: soft tissue, myofascial release, muscle energy techniques, end-of- range mobilisation.
8. Birth prep - midwives, hospitals and courses
Midwives report that they wish that more mums prepare themselves and their partners for the birth not via reading and watching very opinionated blogs or vlogs, but by attending birth preparation courses e.g a hypnobirthing course. Also talking to the local hospital/birthing centre and getting to know some of the midwives before hospital admission may help.
As an expectant mum, you should have a plan in mind for the birth. Consider positions (research non-supine positions which reduce blood loss, perineal tearing and vulvar oedema) and location (water/bed/floor). Also prepare for things to change, as no birth is the same and sometimes the situation requires life-saving intervention.
9. When to see your midwife/GP
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, please go and see a doctor as soon aspossible (YES, it is acceptable to call an ambulance): severe headaches, visual disturbances(blurred vision/flashing in front of the eye), vomiting, sudden swelling of the face, hands or feet and severe pain just below the ribs. The above symptoms could all be signs of pre-eclampsia, a condition that threatens you and your child and requires immediate care. Further, if you notice any abnormal discharge or bleeds, please speak to your midwife as soon as possible.
10. Follow your intuition/instincts
Being pregnant is an exciting time, but equally everyone around you will have their own advice. It is your body, listen to it. If an activity feels good to you, or you like a certain food that others disagree with, ignore them and listen to your intuition. You will do the right thing.