Dr Sophie on Chiropractic and Pregnancy
Although pregnancy is a natural process, the female body will have to endure a lot of changes and physical stress over the 40-week period. Some lucky few may have a pain free pregnancy however others may suffer more and this is where chiropractic care can provide great support.
It is a well-known fact that many pregnant women suffer with pelvic girdle pain and low back pain. In fact 50% of women have low back pain in pregnancy due to postural changes in the lower back.
Factors that contribute towards long-term pelvic pain or low back pain during pregnancy are; back pain before pregnancy, reduced mobility, increased weight and high stress levels. Despite the fact that pain during pregnancy can be very self-limiting, a large majority of women do not receive appropriate care.
Over the 40-week period there will be several posture changes and an increased load to the hips and knees. Stretching and weakening of the abdominal muscles results in reduced spinal stability. Another major change is in the 1st trimester when the body releases a hormone called relaxin. The relaxin hormone does what is says on the tin, it enables ligaments in the body to relax, which enables childbirth.
However with this hormonal change as well as biomechanical changes, this can produce dysfunction in the pelvis and result in the main cause for low back pain during pregnancy.
Chiropractic care can help many pregnant women. Whether they are in pain or not!
Treatment is slightly different and adapted to accommodate the change in the body and most importantly ensures the patient is comfortable. There is very little force involved and a lot of the techniques are very gentle. If you are not in any pain, it’s still great to get checked by your chiropractor so they can assess if your pelvis is well aligned, stable and balanced as well as other parts of your spine. This enables the baby to be in the best possible position for delivery. Your chiropractor will also be able to ensure your nervous system is working at its optimum to support all the body systems including the reproductive system. Keeping the spine aligned helps the entire body to work more effectively and efficiently.
The most exciting fact, and I’m sure most women would say this is one of their main concerns, is studies have shown that receiving regular chiropractic care can reduce labor time.
A very beneficial technique that some chiropractors can use is if the baby is in the breech position (feet first) is the Websters technique. However this is not a concern for most women until they are about 37 weeks pregnant. A study in 2002 showed that there was an 82% success rate of babies turning into the right position (head first) following chiropractors applying the ‘Webster technique’.
Finally it is advisable to return to your chiropractor after the birth to ensure your pelvis and spine are not misaligned, this will all help achieve optimum physical wellbeing. As well as having your new arrival checked!