My doula clients rave about Montreal-based osteopath Amélie Bélanger’s talents during their pregnancies and postpartum. I’m a client of hers myself, and every time I visit her, I walk out of her office feeling lighter, standing taller (kind of incredible, since I’m already 6’1), and breathing so much easier.
Recently Amélie gifted me with some time out of her schedule to answer a few of my questions, and share a bit of her wisdom and knowledge with me (and consequently, with you!).
So, what IS osteopathy exactly? And why might one choose to see an osteopath instead of, say, a chiropractor or physio?
Osteopathy is a holistic manual therapy that’s effective for people of all ages, newborns to seniors. As osteopaths, we treat muscles, joints, membranes, liquids, organs, and so forth…which makes it a more complete practice, as opposed to, say, chiropractic, which mainly treats joints.
Physiotherapy is more of a re-education therapy that works by using exercises. We often combine our practice with a physio’s, for example, when treating someone who has had an accident.
How can osteopathy help before and during the childbearing year (preconception, pregnancy, birth, postpartum)?
I like to say there are as many reasons to consult an osteopath as there are organic dysfunctions.
We help pregnant women experiencing issues such as shortness of breath, acid reflux, sciatica, heavy legs, and varicose veins. Osteopathy can also help the body prepare itself to give birth, start contractions in certain cases, and recover from childbirth (for example, C-section, stitches, incontinence, pain during sexual relations, and postpartum depression).
And other adults can find relief from backaches, headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, tendinitis, bursitis, infertility, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, depression, whiplash…you name it!
In addition, children with ADD, hyperactivity, walking and language problems, equilibrium problems, allergies, asthma, ear infections, among other conditions, can benefit, too.
You even work on babies sometimes too, right?
Yes, very often. I recommend that new parents take their baby to see an osteopath sometime during the first month postpartum (when you feel strong enough). Finding relief from dysfunctions created in the womb or during labour makes for a solid start in life.
I usually suggest that parents come to my office together and book two appointments in a row, so Mommy can also take some time for a treatment that helps relieve all the accumulated tension from pregnancy, birth, and the first days of being a mother.
Newborns can benefit from additional osteopathic treatment for various conditions, such as colic, plagiocephaly (flat head), torticollis, restlessness, breastfeeding problems, absorption deficiencies, and so on.
Besides osteopathy, which other therapies or practices would you suggest for new or expectant families?
Having a massage once in a while is wonderful for the mother. It’s a little time just for her, which, let’s be honest, she may rarely have anymore. Yoga classes are also a nice way to bond with other mothers, loosen a body that has experienced a lot of tension in the past months, and get out of the house. I also suggest partner yoga for parents-to-be, as a beautiful opportunity to connect before becoming a family of three.
What was your personal path to osteopathy and healing in general? Is it something you’ve always felt called to do?
Yes. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, but I didn’t want their crazy hours and intense lifestyle. I have tremendous respect for that profession. I’ve always been fascinated by life, so I first became a marine biologist. Working long hours on the computer and in the lab wasn’t satisfying for me, though—I missed the human connection.
I then decided to teach yoga for a year before deciding what career to choose, and becoming an osteopath came to me naturally afterward. The obstetric and pediatric fields are my favourites, because they’re about the joy of giving and starting new life. My thesis and all my postgraduate studies are connected to these fields.
My academic background introduced me to the understanding of life and the human body. The science of osteopathy explains physical and psychological problems, while treating them directly at the source. Through my work, I strive to contribute to bettering my patients’ mental and physical states.
Amélie Bélanger MSc., D.O., studied osteopathy at L’Académie d’Ostéopathie de Montréal, and has completed postgraduate courses in perinatal psychology, pediatrics, head injuries, muscle pain, and joint pain. She holds a master’s in animal science and a bachelor’s in marine biology, and wrote her thesis on the effects of osteopathy on postpartum stress urinary incontinence. A mom of two boys, in her spare time she’s a bicycling enthusiast.
To book an appointment with her in either her Montreal or St-Hubert office, visit her website, call or text her at 514-894-5504, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.