During pregnancy increased relaxin in your body allows your joints and muscles to soften and stretch to accommodate your changing shape. If you have some pre-existing strains this can lead to pain where there is extra tension. Common complaints include lower back, pelvis and hip pain, pubic pain and even middle back and rib pain. Some mothers also suffer from swelling in feet and hands from the increase in blood circulating and poor lymphatic function.


Manual therapy during pregnancy needs to be gentle enough so that the muscles and joints don’t get overstretched. Cranial osteopathy is well suited for this as we don’t need to put your body into awkward positions and we will not be manipulating you.

Although some mothers will have aches and pains early in the pregnancy, it is more common to be more uncomfortable as you approach the third trimester. Generally during the first trimester mothers may suffer more from tiredness and morning sickness, but many mothers also complain of headaches.

Headaches are Quite Common During Early Pregnancy

Around 25% of the pregnant women who visit our clinic will complain of headaches during their early pregnancy. While their bodies haven’t yet had to accommodate much enlargement of their uterus, they are still accommodating a huge shift in their hormones and can be very tired from this.

When their bodies are working hard to cope with the sudden hormonal changes they may not compensate so well for any pre-existing neck strains that may have been asymptomatic prior to pregnancy.

Our osteopaths work with each mother individually to examine where there is any strain and gently release any joints or muscles that are causing problems.

Why Your Hips and Lower Back Get Sore During Pregnancy

As discussed above, relaxin allows your joints and muscles to soften. If you already have strain in your back or pelvis you may experience pain as the muscles and joints around those tense areas start to relax. Your body may respond by increasing the tension in the previously strained areas which can cause more pain.

Another reason you may find yourself in pain is the change in position of your spine and pelvis as your baby grows. Early on this won’t be noticeable, but through the middle of your pregnancy the curve in your spine increases a little. This means your pelvis tilts forward a little and your lower back extends backwards a little more than normal. For some women this can cause pain, particularly if they’ve had, or are still working in a sedentary job with lots of sitting.

Most sedentary workers will develop poor posture which is the opposite of what your body will do during this middle phase of the pregnancy. If your body is used to having your pelvis tilted back and some slumping through your lower back then you may find it uncomfortable as your body changes this posture.

Osteopathic treatment can be very helpful during your pregnancy. We will help your body normalise the tension in the muscles and the position of the joints to allow you more comfort during daily activities.

During the final stages of your pregnancy, the fetus becomes so large that your body will actually move slightly more into the backwards tilt of your pelvis and a slight flexion of your lower back (not slumping, but a small version of this movement). This change can again cause pain while your body readjusts to a different position. Osteopathic treatment during the third trimester can be very helpful for these complaints.

You May Also Experience Sacro-iliac, Hip and Pubic Pain

As your pelvis changes it’s position to accommodate your growing baby, your gluteal muscles and hip stabilising muscles have to change their tension. This can cause some pain through the hip areas. Also, the fact that you are sleeping on your side for longer than you normally do can cause some pain in the hips.

Osteopathic treatment for pain in the hips and sacro-iliac joints helps to loosen off the tension in the gluteal and hip stabilising muscles so that there is less of a pull on you hips.

The sacro-iliac and pubic joints may become inflamed during pregnancy. This happens because the joints becomes looser with the relaxin and are effected by some very large, strong muscles around the pelvis. These joints are also very important for providing stability in the pelvis. Many expectant mothers find that they cause themselves pain in this area if they balance on one leg and use the other knee to hold something up, or the other foot to push something (like a car door or a chair) away from themselves. We treat pubic pain in the pregnant mother by working with all the muscles of the legs, hips and pelvis to help get your pelvis more level and decrease the strain from the pubic joint.

Some Pregnant Women Also Have Trouble With Swelling

This occurs because the blood volume increases by 50% at the end of your pregnancy to accommodate the increased needs of the fetus. It is also protective for you if there is much bleeding after the birth as it helps avoid your body going into shock. This extra fluid can leach out of the blood vessels and cause swelling particularly in the legs but also in the hands of some pregnant women. This puts more strain the lymphatic system

Our lymphatic system works from the contraction of muscles. If there is too much strain and the muscle doesn’t loosen fully, the fluid will not pump through properly. We work to improve the lymphatic drainage of the arms and legs by decreasing any strains in these muscles, but also by working with the diaphragm, which is the main pressure pump of the body.