Pregnancy can be a bitch on the body. Aches, pains, nausea, bloating, fatigue, cankles… shall I go on? But one tool I found super helpful for keeping me going through those nine months that felt like nine years, was osteopathy...
In fact, after I gave birth I found it even more essential. And so, because I’m good at sharing, I chatted to Osteo extraordinaire to the mamas, Daniela Aiello from Bulleen Osteopathy about her work and her life and her amazing ability to recite lines from every television show ever made.
Hi Dan, thanks for chatting with me...
No problem Simone, I love hanging out with you. You’re just such a great person. And you look fabulous today. I mean, you pull off that tired mother look with such style, how do you do it?
Oh it's easy. I just make sure I get up at least twice a night and never sleep in past 6am – especially when I’m hungover. But enough about me, let's talk OSTEO. Why did you gravitate towards treating pregnant women, I mean, I hear they can get pretty crazy?!
Never crazy! Pregnancy is such an incredibly exciting time that I jumped at the chance to start working with pregnant woman early in my career. I mean, if you think about pregnancy purely at an anatomical level, it is completely mind-blowing! Yes? And that’s not acknowledging the life-changing and unconditional love that comes along with it. I was immediately in.
It wasn’t until I started working more closely with pregnant women however, that I realised how these awesome physical changes can also bring with it stress, pain and anxiety that is often foreign to expectant mothers and their families. After immersing myself in this world, and experiencing it twice myself, I can now appreciate just how vital it is to acknowledge these all encompassing changes and treat the ENTIRE woman and not just her back and pelvis pain. I feel privileged to play this small role in what is such an incredibly special time in their lives and hope to continue doing so for a long, long time. PLUS, its pretty amazing when they bring in their beautiful bubs for me to squish and cuddle.
So how can osteopathy help during pregnancy?
Many women unfortunately experience back pain during pregnancy. Just because it is common, doesn’t necessarily mean it is normal and osteopathy can provide women with much needed relief. By understanding the hormonal and physical changes that are occurring in pregnancy, your osteopath can help to reduce muscle tension, improve joint range of motion, as well as educate patients on the best exercise or particular activities to avoid.
So back pain would be the most common concern for pregnant women?
Yes back and pelvic pain are very common, but so are hip and pubic symphysis. We also see women suffering from neck pain and headaches.
For those readers (me) that don’t know what symphysis is, would you mind explaining?
The pubic symphysis is the joint at the front of the pelvis (your vagina bone!).
Got it! And what about after pregnancy? Do you find treatment still beneficial because it certainly was for me...
Unfortunately, it is likely that the musculoskeletal, sorry muscle, strains experienced during pregnancy don’t immediately disappear once bub arrives. Labour in itself can cause further complications, so it is important to have these issues addressed by your osteo. Mothers are known for putting themselves at the very bottom of the list, so I often encourage my patients to listen to their bodies and to address problems as early as possible.
As well as being an osteo to the mums, you also have a couple of offspring yourself. How do you find balancing the two?
I try not to think of it as ‘balance’, mainly because I don’t think that could ever really be possible. I am very lucky to absolutely love my job and can’t imagine not working as an osteopath. As much as I love being at home with my two little beasts (children), I look forward to stepping into the clinic and working alongside wonderful colleagues and enjoy adult company very, very much. The tricky part, I find, is not letting work creep in too much on the days when I’m at home. Running your own business, it is unrealistic to switch off work mode when I’m at home and I also can’t/ don’t want to switch off mum mode at work. I find the walls come crashing down though, when I expect the kids to be perfectly accommodating when work does creep in. I have been caught out countless times, when I think the kids are happily playing and I sneak into the other room to make a ‘work’ phone call, and have to hang up within 17 seconds because my son has decided now would be the perfect time to lock his sister in the cupboard. How do they know when we are on the phone?
Having said that, I can only make it through the week with bucket-loads of help. I have an incredible husband who provides me with limitless emotional support and just does heap and heaps and heaps around the house. When I am not at home, the kids are entertained by their grandparents and child care, and when I am not at work, I have incredible associates that can treat patients in need.
Do you wish you could do more of one, or less of the other?
That’s a tricky one. Sometimes when I feel like I am doing a pretty good job at home; by managing to prepare all their meals, or arranging a play date and keeping them from causing each other physical harm, I feel a slight pang of guilt that I should be doing this every day. Then on the other hand, I have days when I get to work and I don’t physically have the time to treat everyone in need, that I feel guilty that I don’t commit to more hours at work. But I guess this is normal. I think?! I feel very, very fortunate to have children and also have a career, so I wouldn’t wish for life to be any other way.
You went back to work a lot earlier after having Liv than you did with Jack, is that because you don’t really like her?
Sometimes… kidding of course. I was at home for 12 months with Jack. I had worked for 10 years prior to having him, and even though I was desperate for him to come along, when he did arrive, it took a while to feel confident with the logistics of it all. Working with pregnant women and babies for a long time I had a fair understanding of what to expect but I wasn’t prepared for the massive emotional shift, and just how in love/obsessed I was going to be with the little guy. Figuring out simple tasks like how to fill the car up with petrol with a baby would bring with it a wave of anxiety that was completely foreign to me. Once I got my head around our new system and could plan my days more confidently, I felt ready to incorporate work into the mix. When Liv came along, I felt like, ‘yeah, i can do this’ and went back to work when she was five months old.
If you could be any pregnant lady who would you be?
Beyoncé. But that is my answer to any, “if you could be…”. It’s ALWAYS Beyoncé. Hail Queen Bae. But seriously, as much fun as it would be to be someone else, I loved being pregnant (99% of the time and mainly when I was eating cheeseburgers, which was 22%of the time), so if I could choose to be anyone, I would happily pick me. Boring, hey?
Very boring. What’s your advice for other working mums?
GET HELP! it really does take a village. Also, try not to sweat the small stuff. We judge ourselves waaaaay too harshly and I would encourage other mothers to acknowledge what a remarkable job we are all doing, and take ANY spare time you can to treat yourself. I know this is easier said than done, but I have had to let go of the idea of having a clean house and especially a clean car. Everything looks like a bomb site most of the time, but rather than sort out the jigsaw puzzle pieces into their correct box, I much prefer sitting on the couch with my husband watching television at the end of the day.
How much television do you really watch?
More than recommended! It is my therapy, my holiday, my escape and I will never, ever stop!
Can I have a free treatment?