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Pregnancy and Chiropractic
There are many hormonal and physical changes you’ll experience during your pregnancy. These changes occur in preparation for creating the environment for the developing baby. Some of these will have an impact on your stature and comfort. As your baby becomes heavy, your center of gravity shifts, and your body adjusts accordingly.
Discomforts during pregnancy
- Low Back Pain
- Low back pain during pregnancy is caused by increased stress on the lumbar spine by an anterior shift in the center of gravity. Compensatory muscle tightness and altered gait patterns also contribute, and this pain ranges from mild to severe depending on the patient’s activity level, daily activities, and work duties. Low back pain is also often experienced during the postpartum period.
- Sciatic Nerve Pain
- Hypertonicity in the gluteal muscles and deep external rotators can irritate or compress the sciatic nerve during pregnancy. Some studies suggest the baby’s growth contributes to uterine pressure on supporting vasculature or direct compression of the sciatic nerve, which results in low back pain with radiation into the legs.
- Sacroiliac Pain
- Ligament laxity caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy allows these traditionally stable and primarily weight-bearing sacroiliac joints to move and shift. This increased mobility puts stress on the surrounding ligaments and muscles, which may cause pain. Patients sometimes incorrectly describe their discomfort as “hip pain,” however they indicate the sacroiliac joint as the area of complaint.
- Pubic Symphysis Pain
- During pregnancy, the hormone Relaxin allows the ligaments stabilizing the pubic symphysis joint to relax, and therefore allows the joint to move and separate. Also called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction or SPD, this condition produces pain and limitation of mobility. It also may contribute to the instability of the bony pelvis.
- Round Ligament Pain
- The round ligaments of the uterus contain contractile fibers and suspend and connect it to the abdominal wall on either side. As the uterus grows, the round ligaments also stretch and can cause a sharp pain. It is felt on abdomen sides or at the attachment sites of the ligaments near the pubic bones or labia.
Potential benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy
Chiropractic care is the health maintenance of the spinal column and the adjustment of misaligned joints. Therapy designed to re-establish balance and alignment to your pelvis and spine will do more than make you feel better. Chiropractic care can be beneficial for your baby, too.
To adjust pregnant women, chiropractors will use adjusting tables to accommodate their growing bellies. All chiropractors should use techniques that won’t put pressure on the abdomen. Chiropractors can also show you effective stretches for relieving tension and easing discomfort.
Potential benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy include:
- 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
While all licensed chiropractors receive training related to pregnancy, some chiropractors specialize in prenatal care. Ask if they specialize in this area, or get a referral from your doctor.
But there are certain circumstances where chiropractic care may not be a good idea. Always get your doctor’s approval before seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy. Chiropractic care isn’t typically recommended if you’re experiencing the following:
- vaginal bleeding
- placenta previa or placenta abruption
- ectopic pregnancy
- moderate to severe toxemia