One of the most important times for a woman to be receiving chiropractic care is during pregnancy. From the moment of conception her body goes through a series of remarkable changes. Some are easy to spot: a growing belly, changes in posture and the changes in gait – that characteristic pregnancy “waddle.”
As the pregnant body goes through these changes, the body adapts and accommodates. One of the reasons for lower back pain is a result of the forward shift in the center of gravity. As the belly grows and expands the center of gravity gets shifted forward, as a result the pelvis tilts and the natural curve in the low back increases.
The joints and muscles of the low back and pelvis end up taking on the majority of the load. In an attempt to compensate with this shift the upper back and neck can start to feel tight and stiff as well. Chiropractic care can help to restore proper function to these structures, decreasing pain and allowing you to move with ease.
Chiropractic treatment is both safe and effective for pregnant women. Special pregnancy pillows can be used to support the comfort of the expectant Mom, and manual techniques are modified to accommodate a growing baby. One of these techniques is the Webster Technique which is a special chiropractic method designed specifically to restore balance to the pregnant woman’s pelvic alignment.
According to recent studies, chiropractic care may result in an easier pregnancy, including increased comfort during the third trimester and delivery, and reduced need for analgesics. In one study, women receiving chiropractic care through their first pregnancy had 24 per cent shorter labour times and subjects giving birth for the second or third time reported 39 per cent shorter labour times. In another study, the need for analgesics was reduced by 50 per cent in the patients who had received adjustments.
In addition, 84 per cent of women report relief of back pain during pregnancy with chiropractic care. And because the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis function better, there is significantly less likelihood of back labour (contractions and sharp pain felt in the lower back/sacral area during labour) when receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy.
Currently, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) recommends that women receive chiropractic care during their entire pregnancy to establish pelvic balance and optimize the room a baby has for development throughout pregnancy. With a balanced pelvis, babies have a greater chance of moving into the correct position for birth, and the crisis and worry associated with breech and posterior presentations may be avoided altogether. Optimal baby positioning at the time of birth also eliminates the potential for dystocia (difficult labor) and can therefore result in easier and safer deliveries for both mother and baby.
In addition to the biomechanical improvements noted above, doctors of Chiropractic can also offer nutrition, ergonomic and exercise advice to help a woman enjoy her pregnancy and avoid some of the common side effects associated with this time. For mothers-to-be looking to maintain a healthy pregnancy, chiropractic can play an integral role in their health care team.