(Published in “The Green Parent Magazine” November/December 2011)
As a newly expectant mum, Rita Wadey, 35, found the excitement of her first pregnancy marred by anxiety over her chronic back pain. A sufferer since her teens, Rita was fully aware of how the strain of pregnancy could affect her long-term health and have possible consequences for her baby’s delivery – not to mention subsequent pregnancies.
Years of daily commuting from Brighton to London, coupled with a demanding desk job had exacerbated Rita’s problems, resulting in severe upper back and neck pain. As her pregnancy progressed, Rita also began to develop painful instability in her pelvic area, a complication known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). As her back problems had benefitted greatly from osteopathy in the past, Rita – now mum to Wilfred, 8 months – knew just where to turn for help…
Camilla Murphy is an experienced osteopath who specialises in treating pre- and post-natal conditions, babies and young children. A mum of two herself, Camilla was able to put Rita’s mind at ease. “This was quite a worrying and painful time as I knew that rarely, SPD can make a vaginal delivery impossible and your practitioner may opt for a C-section instead. And in even rarer cases, SPD can worsen after delivery”, Rita explained. “But Camilla and I discussed this and she made treatment changes accordingly. She was able to help my body cope with all the extra strains that pregnancy – hormones, extra weight, how to stand, sit and sleep correctly – put on my body. And as the weeks progressed, Camilla adjusted the way that she worked with my body, using different positions that were more comfortable for me during the treatment itself, and also changing the intensity of the treatment to take account of the hormone Relaxin in my body, which made my joints and muscles more elastic than before.
“I found Camilla’s advice and experience as a mother herself to be invaluable and reassuring. At all times I felt that Camilla understood the changes that were happening to my body – both as a professional and as a mother, and that I was safe in her hands.”
Camilla was able to give Rita advice on approaching the birth in a way that would not over-stress her body, and help deal with the SPD pain (such as Active Birth positions), as well as recommending pregnancy yoga and Pilates.
To Rita and her husband Mike’s joy, their son Wilfred was born safely weighing just over 7lb, after a natural birth with no complications. Rita adds, “As a paediatric osteopath, Camilla was also able to check Wilf over – this was very reassuring as the pushing phase of the birth had been quite long, resulting in some bruising on his head. Luckily this hadn’t left any lasting effects on his head or neck which could have led to further problems.”
Camilla, who works from her clinics in Hertfordshire and Central London, says that obstetric and paediatric osteopathy is an important specialist field, due to the many complications which can potentially appear pre- and postpartum, as well as those presenting in newborns and children as they grow: “I work with women at all stages of the journey – women who are struggling to conceive, through to helping women with their pregnancy – helping to gain optimal foetal positioning, aiding the mother’s lower back, neck tension, mid-back pain and gastrointestinal reflux, among other associated problems.
“Conditions such as endometriosis are very rewarding to treat, as I can help women who are in pain with adhesions in their reproductive organs and gut – I can actually physically unwind, and help increase the mobility and motility of an organ.
“Obviously, work with newborns can be hugely beneficial – whether they have been delivered naturally, with ventouse or forceps, or by Caesarian Section, problems with alignment can result, causing the baby pain and distress. I have successfully treated babies with major skull deformities such as osteosclerotic skulls, which can be a life threatening condition, to babies who have colic, hemiplegia, feeding difficulties or who are generally unsettled. I am also able to treat the mums for postpartum problems.” For Rita, treatment after the birth has focused on the position of the uterus, alignment of the pelvis and helping her body cope with new strains – aches and pains caused by breastfeeding and carrying an increasingly heavy child!
And the benefits of osteopathy don’t stop there. “It’s lovely to see, after I have treated a patient for conception, pregnancy, postpartum and her baby, that I can continue to treat her child as he or she grows,” Camilla explains. “Older children present to me with neck, shoulder, and upper back pain due to poor posture, school bag and poor school equipment issues. Then there are other conditions such as tinnitus, glue ear, ADHD, growing pains, stomach aches and headaches. So as you can see, there are many areas – affecting pregnancy to postpartum, to growing children – which can be treated with enormous success with the help of a well-qualified osteopath.”