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Nowadays, with many women waiting until later to start a family conception can be a protracted process, and many will resort to fertility treatment to achieve a pregnancy. Pre-conception care is increasingly important at this time, with a good diet and reduction of stress factors in the lifestyle being helpful, -and this seems to be true for prospective fathers as well.
Equally, this can be a tense time and prospective parents often experience the symptoms of tension, backache, cramp, muscle spasms, and the inability to relax that often occurs at this time. Sutherland’s cranio-sacral approach works towards supporting relaxation of tensions at this time.
Pregnancy, childbearing and rearing, can cause many stresses to a woman’s body structure. Over the course of a pregnancy many changes in posture occur due to the developing foetus. The pregnancy hormones also create a slackening of the ligaments and connective tissues to allow the tissues of the maternal pelvis to stretch during delivery. The softening of the ligaments, and the alteration of maternal posture from the growing ‘bump’, drags on the spine and pelvic joints, interrupting normal function and predisposing towards back-ache, symphysis pubis dysfunction, tiredness, and leg vein congestion.
The stresses of even a normal labour will often potentially cause strains of the lower ribs, diaphragm, pelvic joints, sacrum, coccyx, uterine ligaments, and pelvic floor muscles. Quite often back- ache occurs as a result of this and is a frequent symptom experienced by new mums. Sometimes however the woman may only be aware of tiredness and post-natal depression. Other follow-on problems, as a result of these strains being unresolved, can lead to chronic back-ache, varicose veins, early uterine prolapse, early wear and tear to hip and pelvic joints, bladder, libido and fertility problems, and chronic exhaustion leading to ‘chronic fatigue’ syndrome.
Sometimes, medical complications can occur requiring epidurals, episiotomies, pelvic osteotomy, or caesarean section. These can be life saving procedures, but may leave scar tissue, which has a tendency to contract cause uneven tension in the connective tissue and may then cause restrictions in function to nearby joints, muscles and connective tissues as a result. Epidurals can sometimes potentially leave uneven tensions in the dural membrane in the spine, this may result in irritation of spinal nerves or headaches.
Following the rigours of pregnancy and birth there are still many demands on the woman’s body. Carrying infants on one hip skews the pelvic posture and can lead to back and leg pain in particular. Frequent stooping and lifting fast growing toddlers can cause strains to the spine and a disturbance of proper posture, making it difficult for the new mother to feel that she has her body back to normal again.
Historically over the last 44 years of our practice life at ‘The Douglas-Mort Practice’ we have supported our patients offering gentle release techniques and Sutherland’s cranio-sacral approach to treatment during their pregnancy. This very gentle relaxing support has been sought by women who have experienced problems, tensions and discomfort as their body has been required to adjust to the demands placed upon it’s anatomy and physiology by the developing foetus. Many women may have small underlying problems of tension or low grade aches and pains , and these patients have said that they have found that our help using Sutherland’s approach and the release techniques reduces their discomfort and generally helps them to feel more relaxed.
The developing foetus has to cope with the rigours that his mother’s lifestyle and activities require, not forgetting any trauma and stress that might occur to her during pregnancy, and which may potentially affect his safe uterine environment. For the infant, the birth canal is acknowledged as being a potentially dangerous journey! During a normal head first delivery, a natural and gradual ‘moulding’ process occurs of the infant skull, so that the plates of bone overlap very slightly allowing birth without damage to the brain.
Problems can occur if this birth process is too slow or too fast, the presentation awkward, or the birth canal too tight. Bony structures, and soft tissues, can potentially then become stressed, jammed, compressed, distorted and squashed. This may interfere with nerve function, blood circulation, bone development and connective tissue alignment in the infant.
Complications during delivery may occur, requiring that drugs are administered to the mother; a number of these may cross the placenta affecting the infant, and cause him to become a bit sleepy, less vital and resistant to the pressures of delivery. Reduced infant vitality can potentially increase the severity and extent of the effects of the ‘moulding’ and squashing process, and hence the possibility of compression during delivery. Sometimes the infant becomes partially stuck causing strains to develop in the neck and shoulders, and assisted deliveries can be necessary, e.g., ventouse, or forceps,- these whilst designed to save lives, may cause pressure, or areas of stress at the point of contact on the infant, and the effects of these interventions may continue to linger subsequently.
Potentially as a result of problems occurring during pregnancy or delivery, the infant may fail to thrive, have feeding and digestive problems, suffer colic, be withdrawn or show signs of pain- screaming or writhing excessively and not sleeping. Later on the child may show signs of uneven body growth, mouth, dental, eye, ear, nose and throat and health problems. Digestive upsets, learning/ socialisation difficulties, behavioural problems, and complaints of head and spinal pain, may also occur. Pregnancy and birth are normal, natural and for the most part a joyful occurrence, but can nevertheless be strenuous!
For many decades traditionally an increasing number of parents of infants have sought cranio-sacral therapy where they feel that help is needed for relief, relaxation, and supporting themselves and their baby towards a more peaceful and comfortable start to life. Obviously a relaxed baby equals a peaceful family especially when everyone can get their beauty sleep zzzz