There are many reasons a new mom would love to have a massage after delivery… but most see it as just an hour of pampering after carrying a child for nine months and then going through childbirth. Very few understand the necessity of postpartum therapeutic treatments unless they undergo an injury in the delivery process and have a primary pain complaint. Every Mom should have an NMT session or two after delivery, with her doctor’s consent of course – I firmly believe the body would recover more quickly from the trauma of childbirth if Moms did this!
1). Pelvic and lower back pain:
As the due date approaches the body starts preparing for delivery: the ligaments of the body soften (and not just the ligaments of the pelvis…ALL of your ligaments). The bones of the pelvis start to widen and the sacrum at the end of the spine tilts backward, allowing more pelvic space for the baby to pass through. After birth, the pelvic bones and sacrum go back into their pre-delivery spot, but sometimes they don’t go back totally aligned. This can cause a number of pain complaints in areas, including the low back, SI joint and hip, and down the back of the leg (i.e.”sciatica”). One common complaint is a pinching sensation in the extreme lower back, which is the SacroIliac (SI) joint area – the moveable joint between the pelvis and the sacrum of the spine. Pseudo-sciatica or piriformis syndrome can occur when the piriformis muscle becomes tight and compresses the sciatic nerve, or trigger points in the contracted piriformis muscle cause a radiating pain down the back of the leg.
2). Thoracic pain
The spinal muscles in the thoracic region of the spine (T1-T12) work overtime during pregnancy, adjusting to the different weight distribution with the growing baby. They also become stretched for long periods of time during labor as the Mom is curled up in the pushing position. And, if you have an epidural, your spinal muscles may tighten in response to the catheter being placed in the epidural space (this happened to me, and it’s quite uncomfortable!).
3). Neck and upper back pain
With the body curled up in the delivery position, especially for prolonged pushing, the neck becomes tight and strained with the force of pushing in a contracted position. Then, when feeding your baby by bottle or breast, you are always holding your little one and looking down for extended periods of time, many times per day. This can create a repetitive pattern of SCM contracture, and scalene and trapezius strain. Neck pain, “shoulder” (trapezius) pain and headaches are very common in the weeks following delivery. This can also lead to headaches in the base of skull, temple and forehead areas. If one experiences a severe headache that either improves or intensifies with change of position (laying down or sitting up) and delivery was with an epidural, please contact your doctor right away.
4). Cesarean section
Cesarean sections are done quite often as a matter of medical necessity. While the incisions for C-sections are much smaller and more discreet than they used to be, they still may require some attention in the weeks and months after delivery. Scar tissue work should be done to all C-section scars (after properly healed and cleared by OB), to ensure flexibility of the scar tissue at the incision, but also the layers of tissue underneath. Because scar tissue is a different structure than regular fascia or connective tissue, it is prone to adhering to other tissue while developing and can cause pain in the area over time. The incision can also keloid, making the area even more rigid, leading to more pain. The incision can also “pucker”, which indicates that portions of the scar are adhering underneath.
And all of these areas are most easily corrected when in a relatively new state rather than after a few months or years. The longer time goes by and the longer these patterns solidify in the tissue, the more therapy the Mom will have to go through for a longer period of time. If you know of someone who recently had a baby or is currently pregnant, please give them our info. Or better yet, buy them a gift certificate for our services and offer to babysit for that hour! They and their body will thank you!!