Chiropractic care during your pregnancy
Pregnancy remains one of the most beautiful miracles of life. It’s simply mind-boggling how your body is able to produce new life from within – knowing precisely what is necessary to create, develop and grow your soon to arrive bundle of joy. And while it certainly is an almost magical period, there may be some days where you may not feel so magical. The reality is that your body is undergoing a lot of changes to accommodate the presence of the little one, and, depending on how far along you are with your pregnancy, your body will be rapidly preparing to deliver your baby to the world. In fact, the most common complaints in pregnancy are low back pain and/or pelvic girdle pain. This should come as no surprise, as joint and ligaments adapt in response to weight gain, and a shift in the center of gravity, resulting in a forward tilting of the pelvis and an exaggerated hollowing of your lower back (called a hyperlordosis).
Pain during pregnancy is so common, that a study following 288 pregnant women during their pregnancy and 6-10 weeks after giving birth, only 13-20% indicated to experience no pain. That is astounding, and despite these high rates, it is estimated that over half of pregnant women receive little or no intervention from healthcare providers. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
First, let’s look at reasons why women do tend to experience pregnancy related musculoskeletal complaints.
The majority of changes will be taking place in and around your pelvis and typically involve the three big bones that form the pelvis, the muscles and ligaments surrounding the pelvis, and of course your uterus wherein your baby is growing and developing. There is an important interplay between these three groups, and a loss of normal function in one, compromises the function of the others. As you can see from the image below, the three bones of the pelvis together forms a bony ring, wherein various organs (think of your uterus, bladder and intestines) rests. It’s important to understand that under normal circumstances (i.e. when you’re not pregnant), the joints formed by the three bones of the pelvis are very stable and held together by ligaments (structures that run between bones to provide stability). The space inside the pelvis is therefore also rather limited or compact. When pregnant however, your body creates a particular hormone called relaxin which, as the name suggests, causes ligaments to become more lax (“relaxed”). This is to allow somewhat separation at the joints within the pelvis to accommodate the increase in size of your baby, and to facilitate the necessary changes needed to help the baby exit the pelvis during the birth process.
As the ligaments become more and more relaxed, the joints of the pelvis (the sacro-iliac joints in the back, and the pubic symphysis in the front) become more movable. This forces the muscles of the pelvis to take over the job of the ligaments to provide support to the pelvis. Generally these muscles are more made to contract and relax during movement, and not really to be active for prolonged periods of time and can therefore become fatigued – essentially become overworked having to contract for prolonged periods of time to stabilise the now more-movable joints of the pelvis. Should these muscles already be weak before becoming pregnant, they can easily become overworked and contribute to developing some “typical” aches and pains experienced by pregnant moms – around the hips, upper thighs, around the groin and in the lower back.
Another consequence of the increased laxity of the ligaments is that the joints of the pelvis, which usually are fairly stable, become more prone to developing neuro-functional shifts. The secondary conditions which result from these shifts can be quite widespread throughout the body, and may include:
Localised pain in the back of the pelvis
Lower back pain
Pain around the front by the pubis which can either be experienced as sharp shooting pain, or in some cases even resemble the burning discomfort of a bladder infection
Hip and/or knee pain
Upper back pain (especially between the shoulder blades)
Because the pelvis plays such an important role during pregnancy, a shift involving any one of the pelvic bones (but in particular one called the sacrum) not only can cause the mom to experience aches and pains, but may also have additional consequences on the growth, development and delivery of the baby, such as:
Longer, harder labor
Excessive cranial molding
While it may appear that your baby grows and develops as if by magic, the truth is that it is a very integrate, narrowly regulated process. At the core of this is your nervous system, now not only coordinating your body, but also that of your baby. This beautiful symbiotic relationship between you and your baby therefore extends far beyond only a structural relationship (i.e. the proper function of your pelvis and the effects thereof on your baby) but also neurological (coordination of the processes of growth and development) and neurochemical (through the release of hormones). For this reason we like to see pregnant moms as early as possible, often even before they become pregnant, to assess and correct neuro-functional shifts as their bodies start preparing for the little one. Proper neuro-functional integration therefore becomes doubly important.
BENEFITS OF CHIROPRACTIC CARE AT UMOYA
- Pregnant moms receiving regular Chiropractic care first and foremost benefit from pain relief without the need for pain medication. It should be no surprise to know that many medication is contraindicated during pregnancy, and Chiropractic is a safe and effective form of care to restore and maintain proper pelvic biomechanics.
A more active lifestyle during pregnancy
- Because they experience less or no pain due to proper pelvic biomechanics, pregnant women receiving Chiropractic care are able to remain active for longer while pregnant
Reduced labor and delivery time
- Women who receive Chiropractic care during their first pregnancy, experience, on average, a 25% shorter labor time, whereas women who have had multiple pregnancies have, on average, a 31% shorter labor time while having been under Chiropractic care during their pregnancy.
Faster recovery after delivery
- The process of a natural delivery creates a lot of stress and strain on the various parts of the pelvis (joints, muscles and ligaments). Assessing the pelvis (and the rest of the spine for that matter!) for the presence of, and correcting, neuro-functional shifts will aid in your recovery process post-partum.
Better neuro-functional integration
- As mentioned above, the health of the spine has a profound impact on the nervous system. By improving the neuro-functional integration of your spine, not only do you and your body benefit, but so too the growth and development of your baby. Happy healthy mommy, happy healthy baby!
Constant and never ending improvement
- We regularly attend seminars by the best in the field of pregnancy and pediatrics to continuously sharpen our skills and develop our knowledge and understanding on how to best care for our pregnant practice members.
Soft, gentle and specific Chiropractic care
- Chiropractic is safe and effective to receive during pregnancy, but a pregnant woman often require more advanced and specific care. Our unique style of Chiropractic and advanced training allows us to make the necessary adjustments (excuse the pun!) to work with your body and deliver what it needs throughout the different phases of pregnancy.
- At UMOYA we also have special pregnancy tables to accommodate the physical changes that will take place during your pregnancy – i.e. increased size of your belly and increased breast sensitivity.
Find out how we can help you or your baby
Feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation in our practice, to meet your Chiropractor, and to hear more about how you can benefit from our unique style of Chiropractic. We look forward to welcoming you to our tribe!
Anrig, C. A., & Plaugher, G. (2011). Pediatric Chiropractic (Second, Re).
Borggren, C. L. (2007). Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 6(2), 70. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.JCME.2007.04.004
Casagrande, D., Gugala, Z., Clark, S. M., & Lindsey, R. W. (2015). Low Back Pain and Pelvic Girdle Pain in Pregnancy. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 23(9), 539–549. https://doi.org/10.5435/JAAOS-D-14-00248
Liddle, S. D., & Pennick, V. (2015). Interventions for preventing and treating low-back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2015(9). https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD001139.pub4