In the first trimester of pregnancy your body releases the aptly named hormone, relaxin, to loosen the ligaments that normally hold your pelvis and pubic bone tightly together. Unwilling to be confined to your pelvis, however, this hormone affects all of the joints in your body, making them somewhat less stable. Compensating for this instability, your muscles will often tighten around your joints. It is the tightening of these muscles-an entirely normal function of your brilliant body seeking to be strong and healthy-that can lead to pain and discomfort during pregnancy, or to trouble down the road during labor and delivery.
Moreover, as your breasts and belly grow during pregnancy, your center of gravity changes. Of course, this is a good thing, as it enables you to remain upright, standing and walking. However, this change in your center of gravity causes alterations in your posture, placing new strains on your body from your neck and shoulders down to your low back.
Though some women feel great through their entire pregnancies, many women will experience aches and pains. Most drugs that are commonly taken to decrease pain can pose dangers to your developing baby if taken during pregnancy. Furthermore, masking the pain with medication may provide temporary relief, but it will not provide the wide-ranging benefits that result from treating the underlying causes of these aches and discomforts. The truth is, even minor pains during pregnancy can indicate greater problems that may arise later, including inconvenient positioning of your baby, stalled or prolonged labor and childbirth, and difficulty healing after your baby is born.
Fortunately, prenatal chiropractic care can help to reduce your pain and prepare you for labor by rebalancing muscle tone and restoring proper function of your joints.
Pain reliefCommon issues during pregnancy that respond quite well to prenatal chiropractic care include:
Pregnancy is a time when the immediate (and temporary) medication solutions to pain are limited and many women find themselves seeking natural solutions. Through a combination of focused massage and modified chiropractic adjustments, these and many other ailments can be resolved by treating the source of the problem. Prenatal chiropractic care is highly recommended and supported by many healthcare professionals and birth support providers including obstetricians, midwives and doulas.
The benefits of prenatal chiropractic care extend far beyond pain relief. The intensity and duration of labor can be markedly decreased when the joints of your pelvis and surrounding soft tissues function in a healthy manner. An unbalanced pelvis can lead to prolonged and painful labor and delivery. What many people do not know is that you do not always feel pain when your pelvis is out of balance-that is, until you try to give birth to a baby. So for women who feel great but would like to further prepare their bodies for labor and delivery, prenatal chiropractic treatment is a wise choice.. By releasing tension in the soft tissues of your pelvis and ensuring the proper function of your joints, prenatal chiropractic treatment can prepare your pelvis to spring open as nature intended so that your baby can smoothly make his or her journey into the world.
By about 32 weeks gestation, most babies have turned head down into a vertex position in preparation for birth. If your little one has yet to make the big flip you will be happy to learn that in many cases prenatal chiropractic care can help. When the ligaments that support the uterus within the pelvis are out of balance or in spasm, intrauterine constraint can occur. This is a common cause of malpositioned babies that can be addressed by a prenatal chiropractor who is well-versed in the anatomy and physiology of pelvic function.
The Webster Technique is a chiropractic method that is utilized by trained and certified prenatal chiropractors to open the pelvis and reduce intrauterine constraint. This technique involves lengthening any shortened ligaments that support the uterus within the pelvis, and restoring motion to restricted joints of this region. This in turn will provide the maximum space in the uterus for baby, and will encourage proper positioning for birth. In my practice I have found that combining a unique pelvic-release massage with the Webster Technique gives the majority of breech babies the space they need to turn head down on their own. Since your baby is growing rapidly during these last weeks of pregnancy it is important to contact me as soon as you learn your baby is in a breech, transverse or posterior position. Additionally, acupuncture - specifically moxibustion - has been shown to help malpositioned babies turn into a more optimal position. I work closely with and refer to local acupuncturists who specialize in this form of prenatal care.
So the big day - the birth of your sweet baby - has come and gone and aside from the joy you are experiencing you may find yourself wondering "Why does my low back still hurt?" or "What exactly is this new ache I'm feeling in my neck and shoulders?"
The good news is that postpartum mamas can benefit from chiropractic care as well. The underlying issues that caused your aches during pregnancy may still be lingering in your joints, or perhaps you had a difficult time during labor and your pelvis joints are not functioning as they should. In addition, new strains will be imposed on your body during holding, feeding and caring for your newborn. Whatever may be ailing you, a postpartum visit is a great way to help your body feel healthy again. This is a good opportunity to have your spine, especially your low back and pelvis, checked for proper functioning before the relaxin hormone disappears from your body.
Proper alignment and motion of your spine will help your nervous system return to optimal functioning. This will encourage your body to heal from pregnancy and birth, and will keep you strong and healthy to take care of your new baby and yourself.