Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life. A healthy pregnancy is the objective, and therefore, essential to maintain a healthy diet and stay physically active. However, it can be easy to forget about the strain that pregnancy places on the body and push through the aches and pain with everything going on. Specifically the spine and pelvis. During pregnancy, the body goes through various changes to accommodate the growing baby. When pregnant, a hormone known as relaxin is released. This relaxes the joints for labor and delivery. Sometimes the ligaments can become too loose that they become structurally unstable. This causes pain. Other factors that can lead to spine misalignment and pain:
- 25 – 30 lbs of added weight and pressure on the spine, pelvis, legs, feet.
- Weakened abdominal muscles.
- Lower back curvature becomes more prominent.
Pregnant women going through discomfort/pain can benefit from chiropractic pregnancy adjustments. These maintain spinal alignment while keeping the baby safe. Chiropractors are trained to treat pregnant women; however, there is additional certification to specialize in this area. A prenatal chiropractor also provides information on:
- Preparing the body for labor and birth
- Maintaining healthy posture
- Ensure the body is properly aligned throughout the pregnancy.
- Health coaching
- Postpartum care
Chiropractic Benefits For A Healthy Pregnancy
The obvious benefits include back pain relief, quality of life improvement, and reducing the need for pain medications. Other benefits include:
- Alleviates sciatic nerve pain
- Helps to control urinary incontinence
- Reduces pregnancy-related nausea
- Aligns the pelvis for optimal delivery
- Reduces labor and delivery time
There is little risk associated with prenatal chiropractic care. However, it is not recommended for pregnant women with health complications like vaginal bleeding or ectopic pregnancy.
If the baby does not have enough room or is going into a breeched position, a chiropractor will work on the ligaments and muscles in the pelvic region to decrease any intrauterine restrictions. Getting the pelvis aligned will allow for an optimal delivery position. This will help move the head down and give the baby more space. If there is a breech position, it is recommended to see a chiropractor once a week during the eighth and ninth months.
When to Start
After receiving approval from the obstetrician, a woman can see a chiropractor at any stage during pregnancy. Many women start chiropractic in the first trimester. This develops a relationship early and benefits the woman as her body changes throughout the pregnancy.
Most patients visit a chiropractor once a month during the first trimester. Then they increase the sessions as the pregnancy progresses. Every woman’s pregnancy is different, requiring a personalized/customized treatment plan. The chiropractor will best advise on the frequency of treatment.
A chiropractor’s job is to manipulate the woman’s spine, joints, and muscles into alignment.
The adjustments utilize gentle pressure. The techniques are adjusted accordingly. Depending on how far along the woman is, as well as musculoskeletal health. For example, they could emphasize focus on the pelvis to reduce stress on the uterus and ligaments for a few sessions. Then shift back to the spine. They will not exert excessive pressure on the abdomen and possibly incorporate specialized equipment specifically for pregnant women.
Symptoms of sciatica are common during pregnancy, typically in the later months. This comes from the added pressure on the sciatic nerve. It can be sharp, burning pain from the hip to the foot. This makes walking, sitting, and sleeping uncomfortable to unbearable. Some women are fortunate enough to experience relief if the baby moves off the sciatic nerve. However, most will need some form of treatment to manage and heal the symptoms. This usually includes:
- Series of adjustments
- Hot and cold therapies
Chiropractic can continue to help after giving birth, providing post-natal care helping the body return to its pre-pregnancy state healthily and optimally.
Diet, Nutrition During Pregnancy
From a nutritional perspective, a high GI diet during pregnancy increases the chances of excessive weight gain and overweight babies. Intake of low-glycemic carbs is associated with weight gain in the normal range. If planning to get pregnant or are pregnant, pay attention to the quality of carb intake for a healthy pregnancy. Health care providers recommend avoiding extreme diets for the first four to six weeks after delivery. This gives the body time to recover and helps to establish a consistent milk supply, as rapid weight loss could interfere with breastfeeding. Before going on a diet or starting an exercise program, check with a healthcare provider to rule out any medical conditions.
30 of the Most Surprising (And Alarming) Back Pain Statistics. The Good Body. www.thegoodbody.com/back-pain-statistics/. Last updated May 30, 2017. Accessed September 22, 2017.
Bernard, Maria, and Peter Tuchin. “Chiropractic Management of Pregnancy-Related Lumbopelvic Pain: A Case Study.” Journal of chiropractic medicine vol. 15,2 (2016): 129-33. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2016.04.003
Gostine M. Is Lower Back Pain Normal During Pregnancy? BabyQ. www.babyq.com/lens/lifestyle/is-lower-back-pain-normal-during-pregnancy/. Published February 4, 2017. Accessed September 22, 2017.
Sabino J, Grauer JN. Pregnancy and low back pain. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2008; 1(2): 137–141. Published online February 26, 2008. doi: 10.1007/s12178-008-9021-8.
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