Pregnancy and Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care facilitates a more comfortable transition from early to late term pregnancy and through to postpartum recovery. No one has said that pregnant women should silently endure the aches and pains of pregnancy. The good news is that pregnant women do not have to suffer these pains that result from a changing body posture.
As Chiropractors, we will assess your spine and pelvic joints to see if there are certain areas that are not moving as easily as they could. We perform many of the same tests that your physician does to determine that you are in perfect health: a complete history, orthopedic exam, neurological exam, and a postural exam to see how your body is adapting to your pregnancy. If we find that you have areas in your spine or pelvic joints are not moving properly, we usually adjust them. The choice is yours as to whether we adjust or not. What is important to remember is that a chiropractic adjustment will allow the areas of your spine that are stuck to move again, which will relieve your discomfort.
The pelvic area is of great concern to Chiropractors. The pelvis is essentially a ring made up of four bones: the sacrum, which is the triangular bone at the base of your spine, the tailbone that is attached to your sacrum, and the two hipbones of your pelvis. These four bones are held together by many ligaments and connective tissue. Relaxin, the hormone of pregnancy, is released in the body from early on in the pregnancy to soften these ligaments to allow better passage of the baby during labour and birth. What can happen later on in the pregnancy is that the ligaments stretch quite a bit, to the point of overstretching. The sacroiliac joints (where the sacrum meets the pelvis) can become quite moveable and walking can become a challenge. The “pregnant waddle” can be noticeable as a woman walks because, at this point, the sacroiliac joints move too much and the body locks the sacrum into place by causing the woman’s feet to turn out and for her to lock her knees. With a Chiropractic adjustment, the sacroiliac joints are able to move in a more normal position and the woman is able to walk more easily.
The goals of Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy are to ease the pregnant woman’s areas of discomfort and to help promote a more stable pelvis. A study done in 1990 showed that women who were under Chiropractic care throughout their pregnancies had reduced labour times. First time moms experienced 25% less time in labour and birth and moms with previous babies averaged 31% shorter labour times. Also, another study done in 1991 showed that women who experienced back pain during their pregnancies had a 72% chance of having back labour during labour and birth. Back labour isn’t pleasant and Chiropractic care can help ease back pain.
Chiropractors are interested in relieving your aches and pains throughout your pregnancy and during your postpartum period. Immediately after birth, your body experiences another great posture change and your back needs to adapt to not having a pregnant belly anymore. The posture of breastfeeding can cause great discomfort in the midback, especially between the shoulder blades. There is the constant lifting, bending, stooping, carrying the car seat about, rocking, walking and so on. Life with a new baby is definitely another time where chiropractic care can help your body more easily. Once again, we keep the fixed or subluxated areas of your spine moving smoothly.
After birthing a baby, your body continues to produce relaxin for approximately the next four months, but in a gradually decreasing amount. This process helps the ligaments to slowly tighten back around the spine and the rest of the joints in the body. Chiropractic care can keep the joints in your spine and pelvis in optimal alignment as your ligaments pull back into place around the joints of your spine.
1 Fallon JM. Chiropractic and pregnancy. A partnership for the future. ICA Intl Rev Chiro 1999; 46(6): 39-42.
2 Diakow PRP, Gadsby TA et al. Back pain during pregnancy and labor. J Manip Physiol Ther 1991; 14(2): 116-118.