Childbirth is a challenging, and sometimes quite painful, process for moms.
Labor is the last great effort made by the mother to bring the new life into this world. It may very well be the most daunting effort for her, physically as well as emotionally. It truly is a labor of love.
Labor begins with the onset of sustained uterine contractions at regular intervals, initiated and supported by the release of the hormone oxytocin.
Uterine contractions exert downward pressure on the baby to move it toward and eventually through the cervix. The cervix has to soften, thin, and open up to allow the passage of the baby into the mom’s pelvis. This thinning and widening of the cervix is facilitated by the release of the hormone relaxin.
Depending on the position of the baby’s head during labor and delivery, the mother may experience tremendous pressure and labor pains in the lower back (lumbosacral joint, sacroiliac joints), as well as the tailbone (coccyx). This sometimes tremendous pressure may set up the mom for chronic low back pain.
Throughout pregnancy the fibers of the pubic symphysis have lengthened to increase the normal gap between the pubic bones by an additional 2-3 mm. Thus, this gap may increase to measure almost 1 cm. It may further widen slightly during the birthing process.
Throughout the pregnancy, but especially during the third trimester, the uterus has had to grow and expand to accommodate the growing fetus. After birth, it will contract to expel the afterbirth (placenta) and regain its original size prior to pregnancy. Oxytocin stimulates these contractions, helped by breastfeeding the baby.
Thus, pregnancy, labor, and delivery put a tremendous toll not only on the musculoskeletal system of the mom but also the connective tissue that holds it together, in the form of ligaments, tendons, and fascia. Fascia is the “fabric” that holds together the cells into tissues and the tissues into organs, muscles, and other body structures, such as glands, blood and lymph vessels, meridians (energy pathways of the body), and nerves. These tensions are the cause of labor pains.
Excess muscular tension may distort the connective tissue and thus increase labor pains.
During pregnancy, labor, and delivery, the connective tissue accommodates the changes in size and shape that necessarily occur during these times. Call it the “spandex” of the belly (uterus, abdominal muscles, and the skin above) that allows the expansion of the belly during pregnancy, the thinning and widening of the cervix during labor, and the return of the uterus to pre-pregnancy size thereafter.
Muscular tension anywhere in the body, including the belly, induced by mental, emotional, or physical stresses is held, and often trapped, in the connective tissue as well. The connective tissue may become distorted and less resilient, leading to prolonged labor, increased labor pains and delayed recovery after birth.
Craniosacral therapy can reduce labor pains.
Craniosacral therapy is ideally suited to help the mother through pregnancy, labor, and delivery because it releases tension, distortion, and restrictions in the connective tissue that may have accumulated during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. This reduces labor pains.
Regular craniosacral therapy sessions throughout pregnancy, and even during labor, promote a relaxed and coherent musculoskeletal system, calm mind, and balanced emotions. Craniosacral therapy thus helps pave the way to a healthy pregnancy, labor, and delivery for the mom and the baby.