Congratulations—you’re expecting! Whether this is your first baby or you’ve had others, your body is about to initiate some major changes. Chiropractic can help you endure them all.
As you begin to literally grow a human being, your body adjusts to support and nourish your little one. Your belly, organs, hormones, ligaments, muscles, and even your skeletal system will adjust to fit this growing baby and prepare for birth.
With all these changes, pain and discomfort are a given. According to the American Chiropractic Association, a 2018 study revealed that 75 percent of pregnant women reported pelvic pain, low back pain, or both that only worsened as their babies grew. Many women also experience increased stress and anxiety during pregnancy.
Here are some of the ailments you can expect when you’re expecting:
- Ligament and joint pain
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Hip pain
- Uncomfortable posture
- Stiffness and tension, localized or widespread
- Increased anxiety and stress
- Back pain, especially in the lower back
- Overall discomfort
- Difficulty sleeping
As you can imagine, these afflictions often interfere with daily life; the degree of severity varies. And when you are pregnant, nearly all pain medications are off limits. So what can you do? Chiropractic is a hands-on, drug-free option that can greatly alleviate the many aches and pains associated with pregnancy.
How Chiropractic Can Help
When a woman is pregnant, the ovary and placenta release the hormone relaxin. Relaxin works to relax the pelvic ligaments and soften the cervix in preparation for birth (otherwise it would be impossible for your baby to emerge). While this hormone is crucial to a successful labor and delivery, it affects the rest of the ligaments in your body as well, making pregnant women more prone to injury and spinal misalignment. The goal of chiropractic techniques for pregnantwomen is to gently enhance joint function, reduce pain, and align the pelvis. This allows a woman to experience a more peaceful, comfortable pregnancy, and in many cases an easier delivery.
The two chiropractic treatments you can expect to receive are the Webster Technique and spinal manipulation. Your chiropractor may also suggest kinesiology tape.
This approach was developed by the late Larry Webster, D.C., to address the issue of pelvic subluxation (a partial dislocation) and sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The sacroiliac joints connect the sacrum to the iliac bones, which make up the pelvis. When the pelvis is strained—which is very common in pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester—the chance of sacral subluxation increases. And when this happens, it can be very difficult for the baby to assume the ideal head-down, rear-facing position before birth. When a baby fails to assume this position, the woman faces a greater chance of breech birth or C-section, both of which pose risks to the mother and child. When you select your chiropractor, it’s helpful to find a prenatal specialist who is Webster certified.
The body communicates through the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and nerves). When a chiropractor adjusts your spine, he or she is improving your body’s communication system so it can function more smoothly and accurately. Through gentle, pregnancy-specific spinal manipulation that takes into account the effect of relaxin, a chiropractor adjusts any misalignments to bring you drug-free pain relief. Other benefits of spinal adjustments include:
- Stress relief. The spinal cord acts as a messenger to the rest of the body. When it is misaligned even slightly, it sends pain or stress signals throughout the body, which can exacerbate the feelings of worry or even depression in a woman who is already undergoing drastic hormonal changes. At times it can be a vicious cycle: mental stress and anxiety can cause a woman to unconsciously tense her muscles, which can misalign the spine and pressure her joints, muscles, and ligaments. Through chiropractic treatment, the spine is freed to send signals through the body more accurately, bringing an overall sense of physical and mental relief.
- Improved sleep. Imagine, being able to sleep a full night during the third trimester—or at least to experience a higher quality of sleep between late night bathroom visits. For many women this is simply wishful thinking as it becomes more challenging to find a comfortable sleep position. However, when the Webster Technique and spinal manipulation are applied, a woman experiences less discomfort and pain throughout her body, making it easier to get a much-needed and much-earned good night’s rest.
- Improved digestive issues. As a pregnant woman’s uterus grows, there is less room left for the organs, especially digestive organs. The stomach and intestines are essentially crushed into any leftover space that isn’t hosting the baby’s temporary home. This causes a plethora of digestive issues, including constipation, bloating, heartburn, and nausea. While chiropractic adjustments cannot necessarily remove these ailments completely, they can certainly lessen the severity by making more room for the uterus and organs to fit more comfortably.
Originally invented for athletes by Japanese chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase, kinesiology tape is a drug-free option designed to minimize pain and swelling. It can be worn for three to five days at a time, which allows for consistent relief throughout the week. Engineered with elastic cotton and acrylic adhesive, the tape gently and painlessly lifts the skin just enough to allow fluid to flow more freely. This alleviates pain, tension, and swelling. Many pregnant women choose to have the tape applied to their belly to relieve pelvic pressure and low back pain (in this regard it functions similar to a maternity belt, but it is inconspicuous under clothing and can be specifically placed on the belly to target specific areas). The tape can also be applied to the ankles or other areas where swelling is causing discomfort. If your chiropractor offers kinesiology tape, he or she can apply it for you and show you how to do it yourself if you’d like to do it at home.
Is It Safe?
Chiropractic care is regarded as completely safe during a normal, healthy pregnancy. It is not considered safe if you have one of the following conditions or symptoms:
- sudden pelvic pain
- premature labor
- vaginal bleeding
- ruptured amniotic membranes
- placenta previa
- placenta abruption
- moderate or severe toxemia
- ectopic pregnancy
Of course, you’ll want to consult with your OB/GYN before visiting a chiropractor even if you have a healthy pregnancy.
The Most Surprising Benefit of All
Many pregnant women quickly recognize how visiting a chiropractor can benefit their own health and experience during the exciting nine months. What comes as a surprise to many is the positive effect it can have on the baby.
- More room. Spinal manipulation and the Webster Technique allow more room for your baby in utero. Your baby may actually kick more as he or she discovers this newfound space to move and grow. More space can help prevent infant torticollis as well.
- Less chance of intervention during birth. No one wants to face an emergency C-section or other risky intervention. Chiropractic treatment reduces the chance of this happening, giving the mother more control over the birthing experience and giving the baby a chance at a calmer, healthier birth.
- Happy mom, happy baby. Stress has a negative impact on unborn babies. As chiropractic care helps reduce a woman’s anxiety during pregnancy, her baby will benefit.
So, whether you just found out the good news or you’re late in your pregnancy, call your chiropractor and set up your assessment today. Make this journey an incredible experience, for you and your baby.
At All Star Chiropractic, our goal is to help our patients recover from back pain, neck pain, lack of mobility, joint issues, range of motion issues, and more—without the use of prescription drugs. We believe in taking a holistic “whole-body” approach to your health. We don’t want to just temporarily fix your pain—we want to determine and treat the root cause so you live an active and pain-free life.
Call one of our locations today to schedule an appointment, or to learn more about how chiropractic care can help you.