As the baby grows, the mother’s body changes. Hormones are secreted that allow the ligaments to soften and the pelvis to widen. This is necessary to prepare the women’s body for birth. When the ligaments become more lax and the bones become more mobile, instability, especially in the pelvis, may occur. This can cause pelvic asymmetry where the right and left side are posturing differently (meaning that one side may be higher or rotated forward/backward) and nerve compression may occur leading to pain in the lower back, down the lower extremities, or into the pelvic region. Additionally, as the mother’s belly grows, postural alignment changes. The lower back’s lordotic curvature typically increases with the baby’s growth to support the mother’s growing belly. This also can lead to lower back and pelvic pain. Pain radiating into the pubic bones can occur with these changes. Pregnant women may also experience upper back and neck pain from the weight of the mother’s growing breasts and belly, which changes postural alignment. Headaches may also result from the postural changes, as well as from stress and hormonal shifts. Swelling may occur during pregnancy, causing such conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome with numbness, tingling, and weakness into the hands. Swelling can also restrict mobility, such as in swollen legs and feet. Increased pressure on the feet can lead to a decrease in the arches in the feet, causing foot pain.
Physical Therapy and CranioSacral Therapy can be helpful to alleviate the discomfort from physical symptoms that may occur during pregnancy. With a thorough evaluation and hands-on treatment, a pregnant woman can experience a relief from pain, numbness, tingling, and swelling that may occur. By working using gentle manual therapy techniques, the pelvis can be realigned, neural compression alleviated, pressure can be relieved from the postural muscles, and the fluid in the body can flow better without edema. The goal is to help the mother-to-be experience a healthy and pain-free pregnancy and to optimize pelvic alignment for a positive birth.
Emotionally, a pregnant woman may experience a variety of emotions throughout her pregnancy. Among all of the joy, there may be fears, distress, and worry. There can also be a disconnect between the mother and her baby in utero. It is important to address these emotions to allow for an ideal pregnancy. The emotions that arise during pregnancy may be related to experiences from the past or they may be new emotions.
When working emotionally and on the connection between a mother and her growing baby, it is so important to have the two in sync with one another. CranioSacral Therapy can help the mom to release past experiences, through somatoemotional work, to allow for resolution and healing, and to create more space for her love and connection to her baby. It can also allow for the mom to connect with her baby through creating an ideal environment where mom and baby have aligned craniosacral rhythms, calmed nervous systems, and removal of barriers in communication.
As birth becomes closer, it is important for a pregnant mother to have a plan, but also to recognize that her plans may change. The mother-to-be should communicate her desires to her growing baby and listen to hear her baby’s plan as well. Having the mother and the baby on the same path is helpful in achieving the desired birth. It is also essential for the mother to surround herself with those who support and empower her, personally and with her selection of health care providers, and to plan to bring her baby into the world in an environment that is comfortable and secure for her.
CranioSacral Therapy can help to open a mother’s pelvis to prepare for birthing, can assist with realigning the baby positionally, and help ready the body to prepare for a vaginal delivery. The gentle hands on treatment of CranioSacral Therapy can help during labor to keep the mother’s central nervous system regulated. This will help the mother to remain grounded, without stress, to achieve a state of calm during labor. This will also allow for relief during the surges of labor as the body moves the baby closer to the mother’s arms.
Being able to conceive, support a growing baby in utero, and to birth a baby into this world is a joy and a blessing. During this precious time, a pregnant woman needs to be supported physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She needs to feel healthy and well. She needs to be able to be mobile and functional in her environment. She needs to connect with her baby. Fears and stress need to released to allow for space within the mother to prepare for the birth of her baby. The craniosacral system and the nervous system need to function without compressions to allow an optimal flow of cerebral spinal fluid, regulation of all of the systems of the body, and for optimal functioning for the mother and her baby.
CranioSacral Therapy is a great way for a pregnant mother to support her body along the course of her journey, from conception to birthing. A greater sense of balance, physically and emotionally, are possible with this gentle hands-on approach creating a calm body to serve as a home to her growing baby. Pregnant women should enjoy their journey through pregnancy and birthing, by receiving hands-on compassionate treatment and surrounding themselves with a supportive team of friends, family, and professionals.
(Featured in Natural Awakenings, April 2017)