How to relieve the aches and pains of pregnancy: Top tips from Osteopath & Haven Expert Sarah Boughtwood

In the space of nine months, you will likely find your body doing things and feeling things you haven’t experienced before. Ah, the joys of pregnancy! Osteopath Sarah Boughtwood breaks down some of the aches, pains and little niggles you might encounter during pregnancy and offers her expert advice for how to relieve them.


1. Tailbone pain

This refers to pain relating to the sacrum and coccyx bones. Naturally in pregnancy, the relaxin hormone makes all your muscles, ligaments and joints loosen but this can cause aches and pains. Try sitting on a neck travel cushion or donut shaped cushion, so your buttocks are on your pillow but there is no direct pressure on the tailbone. Osteopathic treatment is very effective for relieving tailbone pain, by removing any tension in the area and getting the muscles, joints and ligaments to function as well as possible.


2. Reflux

The relaxin hormone loosens the sphincter at the top of your stomach allowing stomach acid to travel up your throat, creating that burning sensation. Some top tips for relieving reflux include: Eat an early dinner so you remain upright for 2-3 hours before bed; identify foods that trigger your reflux (chocolate, coffee etc) and remove from your diet; sleep more upright than usual so gravity will help keep the stomach acid down; eat smaller meals more often; and last, but certainly not least, ask your midwife or health professional if medication is appropriate for you. 


3. Lower back pain

Naturally in pregnancy the arch in your lower back flattens and your growing bump strains your lower back. Try sleeping with a pillow wedged behind your back and another pillow under your hip and belly to support the lower back. Gentle exercises strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and abdominals helps take the strain off your lower back. Ask your healthcare professional what exercises are suitable for you. 


4. Constipation

The intestines are a smooth muscle and the relaxin hormone can make this muscle 'sluggish', sometimes resulting in constipation. Gentle, daily exercise can work wonders for your bowels. Also a diet rich in fibre and drinking plenty of water, can also help relieve constipation. A top tip for passing stools while pregnant is to sit with your feet elevated on a stool. This reduces any strain on the bowels and makes it easier to pass stools. 


5. Rib pain

As your bump grows bigger, more pressure is placed on your rib cage and the baby compresses it from below. Gentle stretching by tipping to the side can help relieve rib pain. You can also try applying a wheat bag or frozen peas to the sore area.


6. Upper back and neck pain

During pregnancy your breasts can go up a few cup sizes. This added weight strains your neck and upper back. You can try a simple 'row' exercise to strengthen your upper back muscles to help reduce the strain on the spine. Osteopathic treatment is also a very effective and safe way of relieving pregnancy aches and pains. 


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