Pregnancy is a time of profound change and adaptation for women. During this time your body goes through immense physical changes, and aches and pains are accepted by many women as just an inevitable part of what pregnancy is all about.
However, this does not have to be the case. Your chiropractor can be of great help at this time. Many people think of chiropractic care as being only for people that require spinal realignment or have serious back. However chiropractic care is a gentle discipline that works to harmonize the body’s nervous system, and stimulate ligaments and muscle groups to help achieve a better balanced body, both structurally and mechanically. It is therefore of paramount importance during pregnancy.
Such is the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments, the International Chiropractic Paediatric Association now recommends that women receive care throughout pregnancy to reduce and alleviate pregnancy related pain and strain. Treatments also achieve excellent results with pelvic balance which in turn optimizes the room a baby has for development throughout pregnancy.
So why do women experience pain during pregnancy? During the course of pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes huge changes hormonally and structurally, and this creates postural strain that often leads to neck and back pain. Also, over the course of the forty weeks, a mother’s weight gain can increase by 30-40 lbs above her usual weight. This dramatic increase in weight creates spinal misalignment and/or postural distortions which in turn affects nerves, muscles and mobility of joints. As most of this weight during pregnancy is carried in the abdominal area, the mother’s center of gravity shifts forward. This is clearly seen by the way heavily pregnant women have to lean back slightly when standing and walking to correct for the increased lumbar curve created by the weight of the foetus in the abdomen.
In order to compensate for this heavy and happy load, the natural curves of the spine, particularly in the lumbar region, become exaggerated causing “lower back pain” which can in turn radiate down the legs into in to the calves and foot areas. Lower back problems can also cause not only localized pain, but headaches, shoulder pain as well as numbness in the hands and feet. Unfortunately, as the pregnancy progresses symptoms may exaggerate as hormone levels rise and this can make life a misery for many.
Chiropractic Care during Pregnancy
There are four different stages of care offered to women during pregnancy.
1) Pre-Conception Care: If you are thinking about or actively trying to conceive, Chiropractic care can be very beneficial by helping to maintain optimal uterine function and a more regular menstrual cycle to help you plan and conceive easily.
2) Pregnancy: Chiropractic care while a woman is pregnant helps to maintain uterine ligament flexibility within the uterus and helps the mother balance her body as it goes through extreme changes as the foetus is growing.
3) Labour and Birth: Getting adjusted right before labour or even during the birthing process can increase the suppleness of the pelvis to help relax ligament, therefore making it an easier birth with less pain.
4) Post-Partum (After Birth) Care: Chiropractic is so important for mother and baby after the birthing process. The mother may need help with getting her pelvis realigned after giving birth, also it can help with the extra stress that new mom’s go through such as carrying heavier loads (new baby, diaper bags, push chairs etc).
The baby also should have a full spinal check-up. Birth can be very traumatic on the newborns spine, so to give the child the best head-start in life, they should be examined. Research shows that health problems that may arise later on in development such as breast feeding problems (difficulty turning the head to one side), infantile colic, excessive crying, otitis media, etc., all of which can be helped with chiropractic care.
Sharing the load
The good news is that by consulting a chiropractor from as early as the first trimester it is often possible to re-balance the body, reactivating and strengthening important spinal and pelvic muscles responsible for posture. An experienced chiropractor can turn the potential for physical discomfort into an almost pain free existence.
The positive effects of chiropractic care are not limited to just those that are in their nine months of pregnancy. Post-pregnancy benefits are also considerable. For years the beneficial effects OF chiropractic care on emotional stress and a mother’s personality have been recognised. At least one respected medical journal has recently reported that “postpartum depression is a rarity in patients receiving chiropractic care”, something well worth considering both during your pregnancy, or after the birth of your baby.
Post pregnancy care
The hormonal changes during and after pregnancy, initiate a relaxation of the pelvic ligaments which often results in back pain, lower abdominal pain (ligaments stretching), and the pain syndrome can cause referred pain, or radicular pain to the legs and also result in neck pain, headache and shoulder pain.
If you are physically able to reach a clinic, it is possible to start the rehabilitation process as early as one week after birth. This will make sure your spine and pelvis function to their best ability, and will assist in a quick and successful post-partum recovery. This can be especially useful in the case of difficult births and caesarean sections, where your chiropractor can work to help stimulate the ligaments and muscles back into action.
EXERCISES DURING PREGNANCY
It is very important that, before performing any of the below recommended exercises, you seek the approval and guidance of your Doctor or Physiotherapist. The illustrations below are purely as guidelines for those undertaking such exercise under instructions and we take no responsibility for anyone who tries to replicate these activities without instruction or guidance from one of our Doctors or Physiotherapists
Download the PDF file on exercises during pregnancy (270 Kb)