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  • Writer's pictureDr. Trent Whittaker

How a Chiropractor Can Help with Pregnancy Discomfort

Discover how chiropractic care can alleviate common pregnancy discomforts like back pain and sciatica. Learn about safe, effective treatments tailored for expectant mothers.



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Pregnancy brings about significant physiological changes, often resulting in increased mechanical stress on the spine and weight-bearing joints. Chiropractic care during pregnancy has gained recognition as a safe and effective way to address musculoskeletal discomfort and promote overall wellness for expectant mothers.


According to the American Pregnancy Association, up to 50% of pregnant women experience low back pain during pregnancy (American Pregnancy Association, n.d.). In this article, we'll explore the benefits of chiropractic care for pregnancy, including how it can help relieve discomfort and support your maternal health.


In This Article:



Physiological Changes of Pregnancy


Pregnancy usually lasts approximately 36 to 40 weeks and it’s divided into 3 stages called trimesters:


  •  1st Trimester (Weeks 0-13): Initial physiological changes include morning sickness, increased cardiac rate (increased by 20% at 8 weeks), and elevated metabolism. Relaxin hormone, responsible for losing and relaxing your muscles, joints and ligaments during pregnancy also increases towards the end of the trimester.


  • 2nd Trimester (Weeks 14-26): You may notice your belly size increasing, altering posture and the way you walk. You may start feeling symptoms like back pain and leg cramps.


  • 3rd Trimester (Weeks 27 to Delivery at 40 weeks): In this stage you may feel even more body changes, your breast and belly get bigger, your breathing gets harder, and you might swell up. Your heart pumps 40%-50% more blood, your pulse gets faster, and the blood plasma increases by 45%. You might also have trouble sleeping and reflux is common.


  • Postnatal: After delivery, you might still have issues such as postural challenges, pelvic muscle control, and fatigue.



Understanding the Benefits of a Chiropractor During Pregnancy


Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, but it comes with its fair share of physical challenges. From hormonal shifts and weight gain to changes in posture, your body goes through a lot as we discussed previously. These changes can sometimes lead to discomforts like back pain, pelvic pain, and sciatica.

 

The chiropractic approach isn't just about making adjustments; it's about enhancing your overall joint function, fine-tuning your nervous system, and balancing soft tissues through targeted adjustments, gentle mobilizations, and specific exercises.



Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments During Pregnancy


Chiropractic adjustments focus on restoring balance and proper function to your spine and pelvis. This can not only ease your pain but also improve your overall well-being during these precious months. Chiropractors are meticulous during examinations, taking extra care with your positioning to ensure comfort and safety. For instance, they avoid positions that might compress the inferior vena cava and use alternatives like prone positions with adequate support or side-lying.

 

By gently adjusting and mobilizing the spine and pelvis, chiropractors can relieve pressure on joints and nerves, reduce muscle tension, and promote optimal function of the nervous system.


Additionally, rehabilitation exercises are designed to strengthen your pelvic and spinal stability, core, and posture. Plus, chiropractors offer practical advice like wearing pelvic support belts, staying hydrated, and being mindful about how you move. All of this is geared towards making your pregnancy as comfortable as possible.



Additional Benefits of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy


Chiropractic care extends beyond just easing musculoskeletal discomfort — it offers a myriad of other benefits for expectant mothers:


Improved Lumbopelvic Biomechanics


Maintaining proper lumbopelvic biomechanics is crucial for optimal fetal positioning, which can lead to a smoother childbirth experience. Regular chiropractic adjustments help keep the pelvis balanced and aligned, potentially reducing the risk of complications during labour and delivery.


Enhanced Nervous System Function


The nervous system regulates many bodily functions, from digestion to hormone balance. Chiropractic care supports optimal nervous system function, which in turn can enhance the overall health and well-being of both mother and baby.


Better Postural Support


As your body changes to accommodate a growing baby, your posture can be significantly affected. Chiropractic adjustments support proper spinal alignment and posture, helping to minimize musculoskeletal strain and discomfort as your pregnancy progresses.



Actionable Tips for Expectant Mothers


Engage in Regular Chiropractic Care


Consider starting regular chiropractic sessions from your second trimester onwards. This can effectively manage the physical changes and discomforts associated with pregnancy.

 

The Benefits of Remedial Massage for Pregnant Women


Remedial Massage offers numerous benefits, addressing both physical discomforts and emotional well-being. It can significantly alleviate common pregnancy-related issues such as back pain, neck and shoulder tension, and leg cramps by improving circulation, reducing muscle tension, and enhancing tissue elasticity. It also promotes relaxation and stress reduction, which benefits both you and your baby.


An added bonus is the improvement in sleep quality and reduced swelling in the legs and feet due to enhanced lymphatic drainage. When tailored to the needs of pregnant women, remedial massage serves as a supportive and therapeutic component of prenatal care, making your pregnancy journey more comfortable and healthier.

 

Exercise and Stretch Regularly


Under a chiropractor's guidance, incorporate gentle exercises such as prenatal yoga or Pilates into your routine. These activities are excellent for strengthening your core and pelvic muscles, which can enhance your stability and comfort as your body changes. Regular stretching and movement are not just good for your body but also uplift your spirits during pregnancy.



Common Mistakes to Avoid During Pregnancy Chiropractic Care


While chiropractic care is generally safe for pregnant women, there are certain precautions to keep in mind to ensure a positive experience. One common mistake is neglecting to communicate openly with your chiropractor about your pregnancy-related symptoms and concerns. It's essential to provide your chiropractor with detailed information about your pregnancy, including any complications or conditions you may be experiencing.

 

The recommendations regarding sleep positions during pregnancy are widely supported by healthcare professionals and are based on understanding both maternal and fetal anatomy and physiology.


Here are some references and key points from respected health organizations and studies:

 

  1. American Pregnancy Association: Recommends sleeping on the side (SOS), particularly on the left side, to increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and the baby. They suggest using pillows as support to maintain a comfortable position and to alleviate pressure points.

  2. Mayo Clinic: Advises pregnant women to sleep on their side to improve blood flow, recommending the use of pillows for additional support to maintain a comfortable position. They specifically note the potential issues with back sleeping in later pregnancy, including affecting circulation.

  3. National Health Service (NHS) UK: Suggests that sleeping on your side – especially on your left side – with your knees bent is likely to be the most comfortable position as your pregnancy progresses. It also mentions the risk associated with back sleeping during late pregnancy, which can press down on major blood vessels and reduce circulation to your heart and your baby.

 

The concern with back sleeping relates to the weight of the uterus resting on the spine, intestines, and the inferior vena cava (the vein that returns blood from the lower body to the heart). This can reduce blood flow to the baby and cause discomfort, dizziness, and other issues for the mother. Using pillows for support, as recommended by these sources, can help pregnant women maintain the side-sleeping position and alleviate discomforts such as back pain or heartburn.

 

While these guidelines provide a good starting point for finding comfortable and safe sleeping positions during pregnancy, it’s crucial to tailor this advice to your specific needs.


Always consult with healthcare providers for personalized guidance, particularly if you experience any discomfort or have concerns specific to your pregnancy. They can offer expert advice and adjustments suited to your unique circumstances, ensuring your comfort and safety throughout your journey.


Conclusion

 

Chiropractic care during pregnancy offers a wealth of benefits for expectant mothers, from relieving musculoskeletal discomfort to enhancing overall health and well-being. By choosing a qualified chiropractor and maintaining open communication about your pregnancy-related symptoms and concerns, you can fully leverage the advantages of chiropractic care and remedial massage throughout your pregnancy journey.

 

This article is designed not just to inform but also to guide you, offering practical advice and shedding light on potential challenges through a foundation of empirical evidence and expert insights.


Embrace the actionable tips provided here to ensure a safe and enriching experience with chiropractic and remedial massage during this transformative phase of your life.

 

 

Written by: Dr. Trent Whittaker (B Chiro Sci, M Chiro)


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