Pregnancy can be a very exciting time for an expecting couple. During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through many necessary structural and physiological changes. Often times pain is commonly associated with these changes and can linger for many months after delivery. Fortunately, the vast majority of low back pain related to pregnancy resolves within 3 months of delivery. This poses a challenge for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Many medications that would commonly be used to mange these problems are not considered safe during pregnancy or during breastfeeding. In addition the pregnant woman or mothers may not be willing to take medications as a concern for the safety of the developing baby. Therefore prevention and conservative care such as exercise are an important aspect of care during a pregnancy. As a result, the caregivers including doulas and midwives may refer out for natural treatment modalities including massage and acupuncture.
Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is an important treatment option for the patient with low back pain and other pregnancy related problems because it is a noninvasive approach that works to maximize the mechanics within the body. Since it’s infancy during the 1800‘s, osteopathy has been useful to the pregnant patient suffering from various conditions. During that time osteopathic physicians have added to that work. For example, techniques for extreme morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum), postpartum depression and others have been described in osteopathic literature.
Most of the pregnant patients that come to my office in New York City, come because of pain. Osteopathic treatments can also focus on prevention, to maintain flexibility and lessen the development of stress. This allows the body to adapt more efficiently to the changes associated with pregnancy, especially the structural changes. In addition, some of my pregnant patients have requested osteopathic treatment during labor to help not just with pain, but also to help the hips change so the baby can make its way through the birth canal.
A 2010 study looking at OMT and back pain in pregnancy demonstrated that OMT can have a significant benefit in slowing or stopping low back pain in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Most commonly, back pain continued to worsen during the pregnancy, but it did much less in the group that received osteopathic treatments. Furthermore, there is empirical and anecdotal evidence showing osteopathic treatments can help with decreased labor times, decreased medication use during labor, decreased incidence of forceps use, and decreased nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Osteopathy addresses these issues in a gentle, non-invasive approach. The physician who practices osteopathy utilizes a precise, hands-on diagnosis and treatment to address the many causes of pain in the pregnant patient, to help her adjust better to through the stages of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
Licciardone JC, Minotti DE, Gatchel RJ, Kearns CM, Singh KP. Osteopathic manual treatment and ultrasound therapy for chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Fam Med. 2013 Mar-Apr;11(2):122-9. doi: 10.1370/afm.1468.
Recommended Resources In NYC For Pregnancy and Parents
This list is not complete
Holistic Moms Network (Also for Dads)
Evolutionary Parenting – Breastfeeding and Sleeping Arrangements
Hypnobabies– Great class for medical hypnosis for as an alternative or in conjunction to pain meds during labor and delivery Visit HypnobabiesNYC.com for classes in NYC.