CranioSacral Therapy Part 2: Pregnancy, Birth and Postnatal
Another great blog post by Shelley and Erin from Evolve Manual Therapy.
In CranioSacral Therapy Part 1 we briefly introduced CranioSacral Therapy (CST) and how it can help with issues in newborns, toddler and older children. Today we are going to talk about the wonderful benefits of CST with pre and post-natal problems.
Let’s start this discussion with a personal story from Evolve Therapist, Shelley Clarke…….
“As a mother of two beautiful children I have been lucky enough to experience the benefits of receiving CranioSacral Therapy after my son was born, while I was pregnant with my second and then again in the post-natal period. After the birth of my son, I had stored some of the trauma (from my delivery and breastfeeding experience) in my body. CranioSacral Therapy helped to release this trauma and allow my body to recover. Treatment is extremely gentle, relaxing and safe to receive during pregnancy and regular treatments throughout my second pregnancy helped to prepare my body for labour. Both my babies were large, (my daughter was over 10 pounds!) so I also found it very useful in the postnatal period to help my pelvic pain and get me back on my feet.”
Although not a Mother herself, Evolve Director, Erin Riley has vast experience working with women having challenges with their menstrual cycles and fertility as well as helping them through their pregnancy, preparation for labour and delivery. Erin often then sees Mum and Baby in the post partum period and is always extremely excited to meet these new little humans!
Here are a few of the common issues that occur in pregnancy and the post-natal period where CST can greatly improve and/or alleviate symptoms.
Often prior to even thinking about falling pregnant, women have experienced issues with their menstrual cycles. Symptoms may have been things such as irregular cycles, painful periods, menstrual headaches/migraine or the dreaded PMT! These symptoms are all signs of a system that is out of balance. When we are in balance our natural cycles and rhythms are in balance also. CranioSacral Therapy is very effective in helping the central nervous system and hormonal systems function more easily by assisting the body in releasing any tension patterns that may be altering optimum function.
This leads us to issues with fertility. Falling pregnant should be an exciting time as you prepare for welcoming a child into your family. Unfortunately this time can often be fraught with stress and tension when things don’t quite go according to plan. There can be many reasons why fertility is an issue, including a history of menstrual cycle difficulties (as we have outlined above), heightened stress responses within the bodies tissues and trauma from past events (pelvic surgeries, miscarriages etc). CranioSacral Therapy can gently assist in helping the body release any tension patterns that is affecting an optimal environment for conception as well as assist the body shift the memory of past traumas that may be contributing to difficulties falling pregnant.
Once pregnant, the body goes through an enormous amount of change over a relatively short space of time as it creates an environment for a little human to grow and develop in. These changes aren’t always comfortable for Mum and often women experience physical discomfort during the pregnancy. Symptoms can include prolonged morning sickness, low back and pelvic pain, breathing difficulties, reflux, headaches and postural changes. CranioSacral Therapy can effectively help relieve these symptoms by releasing soft tissue tensions, help the body find more space or find a more comfortable position for uterus and baby to rest in, calm the nervous system and assist the spine in accommodating the postural changes that are an inevitable part of being pregnant.
Labour and Delivery:
No matter how your precious little one enters the world, there can be some potential challenges. CranioSacral Therapy can assist in preparing the body for labour and delivery by helping the pelvis and pelvic floor be in the optimal state for delivery as well as assisting in the position of the baby. If a cesarean birth is required, it is helpful for your body to be in the most relaxed state possible in order to have a quick and graceful recovery after surgery.
Breast-feeding can be an extremely rewarding experience, though not always the smoothest of rides! If there are issues with breast-feeding such as baby having a poor latch, painful nipples or only feeding for short periods it may be that little one needs some treatment. Mums who are breast-feeding can also feel quite a lot of shoulder and neck tension and experience an increase in headaches. This is often due to the posture of breast feeding, while this is hard to avoid, CranioSacral Therapy will help decrease pain and tension and help you feel more at ease when breast feeding. When you are more at ease your little one will be more at ease also!
Unfortunately the arrival of your precious new family addition doesn’t always go according to plan. Understandably this can make the early days of being a Mother difficult, especially if there is some degree of post-natal depression or post-traumatic stress. This is more common than you might think and is something that is really worthwhile addressing as early as possible in order to help you and your baby adjust. It is helpful to receive treatment for yourself to assist in calming your nervous system, release any tension or emotion that is being stored in the bodies tissues and integrate the experience as best you can.
A natural progression of CranioSacral Therapy is a process called SomatoEmotional® Release (SER). At times of high stress or emotional sensitivity the body may retain the imprint of emotion in the tissues of the body. SER is a process of assisting the body to release or integrate these emotions. As CranioSacral Therapists we may incorporate tools such as therapeutic imagery and dialogue to assist in this process.
“Having a baby is amazing, but I was struggling with a variety of emotional and physical symptoms after the labour and birth, which was an unplanned cesarean. Emotionally, I felt anxious and wound up. I was experiencing tightness and pain in my pelvis and lower back. In general everything felt tense or ‘buzzy’ and just not quite right. I didn’t know exactly how to deal with a sense that I had what felt like unused energy. I felt very uncomfortable in my body, exhausted but wound up at the same time.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from CST, but the sessions were very nurturing and relaxing. Physically it was like a very deep massage but without any of the pressure that goes along with the muscle massage, it was so gentle. At times I felt releases of tension and was finally able to express some deeply emotional feelings I had about the labour and birth. It was a big relief to be able to process these feelings. I felt a sort of reconcile between my body, my emotions and the process of birth.
Physically, the biggest difference I have noticed is how relaxed, or ‘open’ my body is, in particular my pelvis and lower back. It was strange at first for it not to feel constantly tight. The energy I have feels lighter. I feel more aware of where I physically hold on to tension in my body and can see that these patterns probably developed well before I had a bubba.
It’s lovely to feel more at peace and able to listen to what my body is telling me. CST feels very holistic and safe. I wish I had known about it before the birth. Next time!’
Even if you had the most wonderful birth experience and have had minimal issues in the post-natal period, becoming a Mother is a major life event. Whether it is a Mother for the first time or for the fifth time there will be an adjustment period for you and others in your family. It is easy to lose your identity (and your sanity!) with the sleepless nights, the crying, cooking, cleaning and piles and piles of washing. CranioSacral Therapy can calm your nervous system and is a wonderful tool to help you deal with the everyday stresses of being a Mother.
Erin Riley- B. Physiotherapy, CST-D, Director Evolve Manual Therapy
Erin grew up with two teachers for parents, and she has been surrounded by children from a young age. Starting out teaching swimming, she moved into aquatic thearpy for children then Physiotherapy and now works as a Specialist CranioSacral Therapist and International Lecturer for the Upledger Institute. She is passionate about helping children thrive and fulfil their potential through CranioSacral Therapy.
Shelley Clarke- B. Physiotherapy
Shelley is a Mum of two small children, William and Isla. She has worked as a physiotherpaist for over 10 years in Australia and Canada, including a stint at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. She is passionate about helping other Mums and Dads work through the puzzle of parenthood, supporting and caring for their children and family through CranioSacral Therapy.
Phone: +61 (0) 406 249 221
Address: 18 Kensington Rd, Rose Park SA 5067