The Spine as Bearer of Mother and Child

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By: Charles Ridley, D.C.

Pregnancy is a special time in a woman's life in which she is privileged to experience the deep connection between herself and a child in utero; unquestionably a pro­found event . . . a time when she is to bear two individualities instead of one for nine months. The upright spine is the physical symbol of a single individual ego, yet with pregnancy it now carries two, and many natural changes occur to both spine and pelvis to accommodate child and mother. As the child grows and as birth approaches there are two events that change the spine and affect the mother's ability to bear the child and her own self in the world.

The first change is in the spinal curvature: As the weight of the develop­ing child increases and the uterus ex­pands, there is a marked increase in the mother's lumbar lordosis,---the low back curve. Naturally, there are compensa­tions in the middle back and in the neck, yet the low back curve is the most affected and visible. The developing child inside the womb is in complete kyphosis --- curved in on itself in the fetal position; it is self-contained and closed off from the outer world. When the mother's increased lordosis is observed, it is a sure sign that the forces of gravity are now active, assisting the child to open out to the world for a proper birth. Lumbar lordosis, as elon­gation and extension, signals the mother's willingness to expand to accommodate the child and those forces of gravity. However, as a result of this increased lordosis the mother may expe­rience various discomforts, most notably pains in the low back, flank area, buttocks and down the legs.

Later in the pregnancy, another event opens the mother further. Hormones released near the time of birth, vitalize and soften the bones and ligaments in the pelvis allowing more flexibility for the child to pass through the birth canal. This process can lead to weight-bearing diffi­culties, namely pain in the center of the low back, pain down the sides of the legs and an inability to walk upright (bear weight) due to sacral and pelvic instabil­ity. The force of incarnation bears down heavily upon the child, and the mother absorbs it by opening up . . . tempering it for the child a bit.

The mother can prepare herself for these possibilities by first trying to picture that the symptoms she endures are for herself, and another. When the mother's point of view includes the child, it may help her to more consciously bear her additional discomfort. Awareness for her child awakens and expands her feeling life to receive a love which gives her strength to endure her difficulties more peacefully. Yet, taking appropriate ac­tion that helps muscles, ligaments and spine accommodate the various powerful forces coursing through the mother and child is the other half of bearing the difficulties she encounters.

I have found that various touch thera­pies applied to the muscles of the low back, pelvis, abdomen, buttocks and legs will help keep the muscles in a balanced state between being too tight or too loose. The type of work differs with the condi­tion presented: manipulation is indicated in any case where there is a bio-mechani­cal problem in the spine or sacroiliac joint. If the problem is in the musculature, there are numerous touch therapies avail­able: A deep constant or deep, gliding pressure to the muscles is indicated when specific painful nodulations are found in tight or spastic muscles. This type of work is greatly assisted by relaxation tech­niques, stretching and reasonable exer­cises that strengthen the low back, abdo­men, thigh and buttocks muscles.

Gentle upbuilding massage proce­dures also generate an increase in vitality in the muscular, lymphatic and organ systems by strengthening the formative life forces from outward to within. These are indicated in most instances, espe­cially where there seems to be a lack of blood flow in the area, experienced as coldness, or the feeling that the area is falling asleep, and with varicosities. Warm lavender oil baths and walking assist the gentle massage work, as will artistic activities and solitude.

Various touch therapies fall in be­tween the deep and gentle work briefly described above, however, I would like to specifically note that cranial techniques and organ massage procedures directly help the mother reestablish balance when one of the four members of her being, spiritual, emotional, life force or physi­cal, loses its rhythm and overwhelms the balance, creating dis-ease.

Health occurs when there is a harmo­nious balance between the various as­pects of our being and the outer world. Touch therapies are a vital link in our quest for this balance and they must be included as part of the whole picture of health care therapies we offer to those we serve.

Charles Ridley, D.C. incorporates the anthroposophical approach to heal­ing in his practice. He may be reached at 3641 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, California 95405. (707) 545-2013.

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