Mums-to-be do not have to grin and bear the pain that often comes with pregnancy, according to osteopath Zoe Mundell.
Rapid changes in the positioning of joints and organs to make way for a growing baby can cause existing conditions to flare up or create fresh aches or discomfort.
But getting checked out before your bump starts to swell can avoid reoccurring issues later on, said the founder of New Body Osteopathy in Canary Wharf.
“We get a lot of women who come in when they are in agony and have had other treatment that have failed,” she said.
“They often think of us as a last resort. But really women should get checked early on.
“We have our teeth checked every six months, our hair cut every eight weeks, our cars served once a year. But we often don’t get anything done until we are in pain in relation to our spine and body that we live with.”
Zoe arrived on the estate in 2000 as a personal trainer before becoming an osteopath seven-years-ago and said there was a growing demand for baby and parenting services in the area.
The British College of Osteopathic Medicine graduate completed her post graduate training at the Osteopathic Centre for Children two years ago, after noticing a need through her role teaching pregnancy Pilates classes.
“A lot of young families are now staying put in Canary Wharf rather than moving out to the suburbs to buy a house the moment they fall pregnant” said the 41-year-old.
“There are some great linked classes for new mums now and, obviously, our services. Previously mums would have had to go out to Chelsea or Fulham to find an osteopath that would treat babies.
“The clinic has really evolved with that and is a place for the whole family.”
About 10-20% of her business now comes from treating expectant mothers and children.
“Pregnancy changes your whole centre of gravity because the baby in front is pulling your body forward so the back has to work harder to compensate,” said Zoe, whose business was shortlisted in the Small Business category at The Wharf Innovation In Business Awards 2016.
“The ribs move upwards and outwards, so have less space to move, the diaphragm and all the organs are pushed upwards, the lower back arches more so the hip muscles shorted and tighten and your stance will
“Pain in pregnancy is common but that doesn’t mean you should put up with it. There is a lot you can do.”
Stretches, mobility exercise to improve movement of joints, massage, taping, Pilates exercises and medical dry needling are among the techniques she uses to try and make mothers more comfortable.
But she stressed she would never move the baby and generally avoids giving hands on treatment in the first trimester.
She can also help women prepare for the birth itself by teaching them how to contract and relax their pelvic floor muscles.
“They have a huge part to play in the birth,” said Zoe. “That is where the baby rests its head to rotate to come out.
“So if it is too lax it can mean the mum might not have the strength to push through the contractions and deliver.
“Equally runners and athletes often have pelvic floors that are so tight it can make the birth process more difficult.”
After the pregnancy, Zoe often treats women whose backs have become rounded due to the weight of their breasts during lactation, or who have painful wrists, as they are more used to sitting at a desk typing then carrying around a baby for hours a day.
She also offers osteopathy for babies and children and has some clients who are only a few weeks old.
“Coming out of the birth canal there is a lot of twisting and pulling of their heads and even on the most routine of deliveries there is a lot of pressure through the baby’s head and neck,” said Zoe.
“We see a lot of babies who have gone through a traumatic birth, maybe because it was long, or with intervention like forceps, and their mums want us to check their necks.
“If it doesn’t move well in both directions it can cause shortening of the muscle, which can lead to the baby resting their head on one side more.
“Over a period of weeks, as the baby’s head is very soft at this stage, it can flatten on that side, causing misshaping and problems with feeding.
“It can be a snowball effect that often isn’t noticed by parents until the child is quite a few months old.
“But if you spot early on that the head isn’t moving one way you can try and prevent that whole process.”
Adult consultations cost £75 for 45 minutes and child consultations cost £80 for 60 minutes.
New Body Osteopathy is based at Bespoke Cycling’s Crossrail Place and Gresham Street branches in Canary Wharf and the City.
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