Pregnancy is miraculous. Knowing that your body can sustain, grow, and develop another human being is amazing! However, many moms-to-be also find this to be a nerve-wracking time. Worries about harming the baby’s development might overtake the day-to-day thoughts of a new or expecting parent. The maternal body undergoes a wide variety of changes throughout pregnancy to accommodate the growing fetus. Chiropractic can play a part in ensuring improved pregnancy outcomes.
As your baby grows, your body will change and grow as well. This subsequently causes changes to your spine and posture. By regularly re-aligning the spine, chiropractors can help to create a more structurally supportive, mobile, and functional body that allows for improvement in pregnancy, labor, delivery, and health outcomes for both mom and baby. Research shows that chiropractic care can help decrease the following: duration of labor and delivery, use of forceps, fluid overload, likelihood of having pre-term delivery, carpal tunnel, high blood pressure, low back pain, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction. When you start seeing a chiropractor earlier in your pregnancy, it will allow you to catch small problems that could have become larger throughout the pregnancy. Regular chiropractic care can also minimize discomfort as your body naturally changes while preparing for your child’s birth.
How We Help In All Stages Of Pregnancy
As a family office, we absolutely love it when we get to help a family regain optimal function and remain healthy during the growth of their family. When a pregnant mom comes into our office, the doctor will start with a complete history and consultation. This is a time for the doctor to listen to your concerns and ask about previous pregnancies and deliveries as well as your daily life and habits. The doctor will also perform chiropractic and functional examinations to help get to the root cause of any problems you are experiencing. While spinal x-rays are commonly utilized for other patients, doctors will use an alternative test to detect inflammation in the spine and nervous system. This testing can help alert the doctor to areas of the spine that may be misaligned, causing interference with the body’s ability to function and heal.
When a pregnant patient is under regular care in our office, the doctors can offer specific chiropractic adjustments, customized exercises or stretches, nutritional supplementation guidance, and the expertise of the Webster Technique. Every stage of pregnancy brings different concerns or issues, and we are here to help you through them all.
Many pregnant patients commonly report backache or back pain during various stages of pregnancy. During pregnancy, the ligaments in your body naturally become softer and stretch to prepare you for labor. This process can strain the joints of your lower back and pelvis, which can cause back pain.
What exactly is the Webster Technique?
Breech, or feet-first presentation, affects up to four percent of full-term births. When this happens, doctors must either try to turn the baby headfirst in the weeks before birth or perform a cesarean delivery, also known as a C-section, to help the baby be born safely.
More and more people are turning to chiropractic care throughout their pregnancies to address concerns that may contribute to breech presentation. One specific chiropractic technique focused on healthy pregnancy and birth is the Webster technique.
At the center of the Webster technique is the idea that a baby’s movement can be restricted inside the uterus, which is known as intrauterine constraint. Restricted space to allow for proper fetal movement may cause aches and pains for the pregnant person and possible complications for the baby, like the inability to move into an ideal birth presentation.
The Webster technique is a gentle chiropractic adjustment that aligns the pelvis and includes a soft tissue release of associated muscle groups. It ensures that the pelvis can function properly during pregnancy. The Webster technique consists of chiropractic evaluation of the sacrum and its alignment within the pelvis. Adjustments are performed to restore correct alignment to the sacrum. In addition, massage and specific stretches focus on the attachment points of the uterine ligaments on the abdominal wall.
A 2002 study of the Webster technique showed a success rate of 82% for resolving breech presentation in month 8 of pregnancy.
Along with addressing breech presentation, the Webster technique may ease leg tightness, leg pain, back pain, and birth canal issues (such as narrow space) that arise from pregnancy.
Common Causes Of Pregnancy Pain
Low Back Pain
The good news is your baby is growing! That’s exactly what should be happening, but it can still be tough on your back. You’ve got lots of company. Most pregnant women experience back pain, usually starting in the second half of pregnancy. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to minimize your back pain.
Causes of Back Pain in Pregnant Women
Pregnancy back pain is typically felt where the pelvis meets your spine, at the sacroiliac joint.
There are many possible reasons why pregnancy-related back pain happens. Some of the most common causes are:
- Weight gain — Women typically gain between 25 and 35 pounds during a healthy pregnancy, and the spine must support that additional weight. This can cause lower back pain. The weight of the growing baby and uterus also puts pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back.
- Posture changes — Pregnancy shifts your center of gravity. As a result, you may gradually, often without noticing, begin to adjust your posture and the way you move. This may result in back pain or strain.
- Hormone changes — During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. The same hormone can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to instability and pain.
- Muscle separation — As the uterus expands, two parallel sheets of muscles (the rectus abdominis muscles), which run from the rib cage to the pubic bone, may separate along the center seam. This separation may worsen back pain.
- Stress — Emotional stress can cause muscle tension in the back, which may be felt as back pain or back spasms. You may find that you experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy.
Some women may develop pelvic pain during pregnancy. This is sometimes called pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). PGP is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by stiffness of your pelvic joints or the joints moving unevenly at either the back or front of your pelvis.
There are some easy steps you can take to reduce and treat your pelvic pain during pregnancy:
- Exercise in water
- Use pelvic physiotherapy to strengthen your pelvic floor, stomach, back, and hip muscles
- Use equipment such as a pelvic support belt or crutches, if necessary
- Rest when possible
- Wear supportive, flat shoes
Migraine headaches are a common type of headache in pregnancy. These painful, throbbing headaches are often felt on one side of the head and result from the expansion of the blood vessels in the brain. Migraines are sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light.
Headaches tend to be more common in the first and third trimesters, but they can also occur in the second trimester. While there are common causes for headaches during pregnancy, it’s important to note that headaches during the second and third trimesters can also be due to high blood pressure, called preeclampsia. When a headache is severe or just doesn’t go away, or when you have dizziness, blurred vision, or changes in your field of vision, you should contact your healthcare provider.
Sciatic pain may develop or increase during your pregnancy. In fact, lower back pain and sciatic problems are quite common as pregnancy advances. Sciatica will often develop in the third trimester, though it can occur at any stage of your pregnancy. As your baby grows, the additional weight puts pressure on already unstable joints and muscles.
There are many things you can do to experience relief of sciatic pain during pregnancy:
- Lay down on the side opposite the pain to help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve
- Avoid standing for long periods of time
- Go for a swim
- Take warm showers or use warm compresses to help relieve pain
- Avoid lifting heavy objects
Pregnancy-Related Nausea aka “Morning Sickness”
Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, often referred to as morning sickness, are very common in early pregnancy. It can affect you at any time of the day or night, or you may feel sick all day long. Morning sickness is unpleasant and can significantly affect your day-to-day life.
Several lifestyle and home remedies can help reduce morning sickness:
- Select foods that are high in protein, low in fat, and easy to digest
- Snack often
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Pay attention to nausea triggers
- Take care with prenatal vitamins; try a different brand or take them at a different time of day
- Rinse your mouth after vomiting
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Chiropractic safe during pregnancy?
Chiropractic care is usually a safe, effective practice during pregnancy. Not only can routine chiropractic care help manage pain in your back, hips, and joints, but it can also establish pelvic balance. This can give your baby as much space as possible for growth throughout pregnancy. This may lead to faster, easier labor and delivery.
Can chiropractic care help with more than just pregnancy-related back pain?
Yes! Chiropractic care provides many benefits for the expectant mother:
- Maintaining a healthier pregnancy
- Controlling symptoms of nausea
- Reducing the time of labor and delivery
- Relieving back, neck, or joint pain
- Preventing a potential cesarean delivery
Is it normal to have lower back pain during early pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your body ramps up the production of a hormone called relaxin that paves the way for the baby to exit by helping to loosen ligaments and joints.
But relaxin, combined with your growing belly, can leave you feeling loose-limbed, wobbly, and a bit clumsy. Your body is growing fast, and sometimes your ligaments and muscles have trouble keeping up. And all these factors combined can do quite a number on your back and spine.
Is it safe to see a chiropractor during your first trimester?
The best way to know if chiropractic care is the right option for you during early pregnancy is to complete a thorough evaluation and testing with a chiropractor. The results of your personal health history and testing will help the chiropractor determine what type of care, if any, is recommended for your specific case.
When should you start seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy?
At Family First Chiropractic, we love to see patients BEFORE they even start trying to grow their families. This gives the best chance of a healthy pregnancy from the start. But really, it’s ok to start seeing a chiropractor at any point in your pregnancy, as long as the chiropractor provides a thorough consultation and evaluation to determine the most appropriate care for your specific situation.