Why Osteopathy is the Best Choice to Help You Through Your Pregnancy, Prepare You for Birth and Motherhood

Maybe you’ve heard of osteopathy, maybe you haven’t (don’t worry, you are not alone!), either way you’re probably here because you’re curious about how osteopathy can help you during pregnancy.

These are the most physically challenging years of your life!

I say this often. Why? It’s not to scare you, it’s just the damn truth of it. #truthbomb

We train to prepare our bodies physically (and mentally) for a 10 km running race that takes an hour or so. Yet when it comes to pregnancy (10 months), labour and delivery (?? hours/days) and motherhood (foreva) most of us barely do the WHO recommended exercise of 150 minutes/week (only 15% of us do btw…yikes!).

So I’ll repeat it for those in the back row:

These are the most physically challenging years of your life!

Regular exercise will definitely help you through these physically demanding years, but pregnancy affects every single part of you (beyond your belly!) in a way that very few other times of your life will. The changes are impressive. Your spine, pelvis, digestive tract, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, hormones, fascia, muscles, ligaments, nervous system, and on and on, from head to toe are implicated.

pregnancy is physically demanding. Osteopathy can help with the prevention and management of prenatal pains like lower back pain, pelvic pain, diastasis recti, incontinence, etc.

The stresses, strains, and changes during pregnancy are astounding. It's no wonder that 80% of women experience pregnancy-related low back pain or pelvic girdle pain.

So how can osteopathy help you during pregnancy?

Let’s take an osteopathic look at lower back pain during pregnancy. It’s such a common area of pain.

As an osteopath, I’m not only going to look at your spine and pelvis (bones), and the muscles around them (core, pelvic floor, spinal muscles, etc.), but I’m also going to assess your uterus and it’s ligaments and connective structures (that attach to your spine and pelvis), your digestive tract (that is in a whole new position because of that growing uterus!), your legs and feet (because extra weight and support requirements), your diaphragm (so strained!), your head and jaw (because…well, too many possible connections to note here!).

You get the idea.

The fact is, most of us don’t get off scot-free during pregnancy. We ache, we pain, we compensate, we stretch (your rectus ab muscle will stretch 115%!), we weaken.

And then, we are supposed to do the most extraordinarily, physically demanding
thing we’ve ever done:

give birth.

Fear not! Here’s the good news: these body altering events can be made easier. Yes, some of us will be luckier than others with genetic, environmental, socio-economic, lifestyle and just plain luck influences. But beyond the luck factor, there is so much we can control to make this time in our lives less painful, less weak and less scary.

Osteopathy aims to restore the optimal alignment, mobility and health of all of the structures that make up a body - bones, muscles, fascia, ligaments, nerves and vessels, organs and viscera.

This is something that is beneficial to everyone, at all stages of life, but it is especially beneficial during pregnancy because of the sheer number of changes, new stresses and strains to the body. The techniques are gentle, safe and adapted to each mother's needs and comforts.

A pregnant woman receives osteopathy treatment for lower back pain.

The goal of the osteopath is simple, ensure every structure is in it’s ideal position and has optimal mobility and/or motility. When a structure of the body is free of restriction, it is able to move and express itself as it is supposed to, and with this in check, the structure can function properly. Not only will a restricted structure have poor function, it will likely also restrict other structures, limiting their function, and on and on it can go. Finding the primary source(s) of dysfunctions is the osteopaths main objective.

Seems easy, right?

The thing is, your body works as a whole, not in parts. This, again, is especially true during pregnancy when EVERYTHING is involved or affected.

Osteopathy addresses your body as a whole. Because, well, that’s how your body works!

Most other forms of physical therapy work on parts. Osteopathy is unique in that it really looks at your body as a whole - we know how to assess and treat all structures and systems of the body. In our opinion, you can’t work on bones if you don’t also work on the muscles, fascia, ligaments and viscera/organs that attach to those bones.

What is an osteopathic appointment like?

An osteopath uses only one tool (well, really two!): her hands. All treatment is hands-on, manual therapy. We work with our hands to palpate, listen to, and free whatever structures needs our help. And that’s the cool part, we are only there, with our hands, to help and guide structures.

We approach structures (generally) quite gently. If too much force is used, structures can react negatively, or just not at all. I like to say that we show them the way to freedom, encourage them in the right direction (of health), but ultimately your body will do most of the work. You will feel the difference.

Osteopathic treatment during pregnancy will help guide, release and restore the tensions and restrictions that build. It will help prepare you for labour and delivery by ensuring the proper alignment and mobility of your pelvis. This will also help to set you up for a more efficient postpartum recovery. Win. Win. Win!

Before we get into treatment I will need to assess you to determine what the priorities of treatment need to be on that day (this assessment takes more time during our initial meeting). Teaching you about your issues, your strengths and your weaknesses is critical in your healing and health. I will help you understand how various things are helping or hindering your healing and progression.

Oh and you will always leave with some strength exercises, corrective movements and mobility patterns. Always. :)

Owner of Healthy Mumma and Ottawa osteopath, Shauna Ironside knows what it takes to have a pain-free pregnancy and live an active life with her three kids.


As an osteopath, an athletic therapist, and a mumma of three, I know how physically demanding pregnancy, birth and motherhood are. I am passionate about empowering women to connect with their bodies and gain a better understanding of it: it's strengths and it's weaknesses.

My passion is helping you connect with your body during and after pregnancy. Even years after pregnancy. My goal is to help your body find health through osteopathic manual therapy, athletic therapy and empowering you with education and movement to progress and maintain that healthy, pain-free body.

You can prevent pregnancy-related injuries.

You can prepare your body for an ideal birth.

You can repair your body postpartum.

You can surpass your fitness and health goals after having children.

I can help you do all of this safely and effectively. Osteopathy is a fantastic therapeutic practice to discover and help you through these physically challenging years! You don’t have to navigate it alone!