Updated: Aug 29, 2022
My first introduction to Bowen dates back 13 years when I was pregnant with my 3rd child. I was working as a Midwife and struggling with sciatic pain. My usual treatment of choice was just not cutting it - a friend suggested Bowen Therapy and although initially sceptical, I was simply amazed by the simplicity of the treatment and quick relief I experienced. I was completely hooked and knew that I had to learn this amazing technique.
Since then I have seen the many amazing ways that Bowen can help women with the less than glamorous symptoms of pregnancy, optimal fetal positioning for a fast and easier birth and post-natal issues for both Mum and Bub.
Bowen Therapy is gentle, non-invasive and works on the Neuromuscular system to release tension in body tissue (fascia and muscle) which can help postural corrections and improve pain and discomfort.
Here are a few of the pesky pregnancy symptoms that Bowen can often help with-
Morning Sickness and Reflux - Nausea and heartburn can be exacerbated by tension and restriction around the diaphragm. Bowen moves have a direct effect on reducing this tension and improving symptoms.
Back Pain, Sciatica, Hip and pelvic pain - With the progression of pregnancy, the pelvic brim and outlet become quite congested with the increasing mass of a growing baby's head (or sometimes bottom) filling the space and competing for room along with your pelvic muscles and increasing blood volume. This of course is inevitable, but using Bowen, we aim to release the load of these tense tissues leading to a rapid improvement of backache, hip or sciatic pain. As Bowen Therapists we identify which muscles need to be released - this can be lumbar, sacral, gluteal muscles, the piriformis (which can often compress the sciatic nerves it runs through the deep muscles in your bottom), psoas (a deep hip/ core muscle) or any one of the number of muscles and connective tissue at the front of the pelvis. The release of tension in these areas has an effect on the nerve and muscle system as well as the circulatory and lymphatic network - relieving pressure and enabling the body to restore function and improved movement.
Carpel Tunnel Symptoms - swelling, numbness and tingling throughout the arms and hands is common in pregnancy, especially in the final few months. Extra fluid outside the bloodstream in the body tissues begins to become a compressive force interfering with nerve impulses and circulation. Bowen's effect on the lymphatic system can offload the tissues, providing instant relief of this pressure and the associated numbness and tingling.
Optimal Fetal Positioning - a very fancy term which just refers to helping your baby achieve the very best position for an easier birth. In my many years working in Birthing Units I would very clearly see 3 main positions that baby would settle into in the final 6-8 weeks of pregnancy.
* Anterior position - Head down with bubs back facing it's mother's stomach - this is by far the most common and is the ideal position for a faster, easier birth. The reason for this is that as the baby head descends during labour, reaching the pelvic floor it rotates leaving the angle of the baby's head is at it's smallest size to fit through the pelvic outlet at delivery.
* Posterior position - Again head down, but this time with the baby's back facing towards the mothers spine. Generally a longer and more difficult labour is the result of this fetal position including extensive backpain in the last stages of pregnancy as well as during labour. This position very often leads to more interventions during labour and birth such as IV Oxytocic infusion as contractions can be less co-ordinated taking longer to achieve progress, epidurals, vacuum extraction, forceps extraction to assist with the rotation of baby's head and can even result in Caesarian Section when either mother or baby are simply no longer able to cope with the stress of labour.
Thanks to www.spinningbabies.com for these images.
* Breech presentation - The bottoms down position which results in the lean towards caesarians in recent times by Obstetric staff, particularly in first time mothers.
Midwives wisdom is a beautiful thing and we have many ways of educating Mum's to help improve baby's position before the head is fully engaged. Avoiding reclining positions and trying to ensure that when you sit up, your knees sit lower than your pelvis to avoid a backwards pelvic tilt and encouraging the favourable head position - sitting on an exercise ball and gently rotating your pelvis can be far more comfortable and beneficial than reclining with feet up in front of the TV. Adopting a hands and knees position on a mat on the floor and side to side rocking can also be really helpful at relieving lower back and sacral pain as well as helping achieve a good metal position through gravity.
With Bowen, we are able to help alter fetal positioning with specific moves around the front of the pelvis, hip flexors, upper legs and even diaphragm. From 32 weeks, regular Bowen treatments releasing restrictions in these areas can have a really positive effect on encouraging the optimal fetal position for birth, and reducing pain and stiffness for mum's comfort. Achieving the best position for birth can help the head to engage earlier helping to avoid a post-dates induction of labour.
Of course, as well as these great effects, a Bowen Treatment allows the body a little time and space to de-stress and slow down. The improvement in sleep, improved digestion, feeling of calmness, reduction in blood pressure and heart rate and favourable effect on your stress hormones after Bowen can help you to be in the best place possible to welcome and enjoy your new addition.
This chat on pregnancy would not be complete without a mention of the beautiful work that Bowen Therapists do to help newborns around the world each day. As resilient as babys are, the birth process is an immense journey, so neck and shoulder manipulation, head bruising or moulding related to the use of vacuum or forceps or simply a rapid delivery can result in so many symptoms that leave baby unsettled, irritable and in pain. Bowen is the gentlest way I have seen to deal with the subtle changes that need to occur to help unsettled babies, to improve reflux and colic symptoms, neck restriction, constipation and generally irritable and poor sleeping babies.
I hope this helps you on your beautiful journey with a healthy pregnancy and easy birth and the joy of motherhood.