by Dr. Stephanie Bonn, BSc,BPHE,DC
More and more women are discovering the many benefits associated with chiropractic care in pregnancy, with the most common complaint being low back pain. In a recent study, 84% of patients who received chiropractic adjustments reported relief of back pain during pregnancy and significantly less back labour. As more women utilize chiropractic care they are noticing additional benefits for pregnancy-related discomfort.
Over the 40+ weeks of pregnancy, the body is changing every day with hormonal fluctuations, increase in fetal weight and shift of the mother’s centre of gravity. As well, many women have pre-existing conditions prior to pregnancy such as postural or repetitive strain from poor workstation ergonomics, and previous injuries from motor vehicle accidents or sports injuries.
The pregnancy hormones, especially relaxin towards the end of the pregnancy, make the ligaments of the body more lax or less stable. This is required to allow the pelvis to widen to make room for the developing fetus, but can contribute to further strain on the lumbar spine in the lower back. The additional weight can also stress the spine along with the imbalance in weight distribution as the baby develops. Gentle and safe chiropractic adjustments will decrease the low back strain as well as improve the alignment for optimal fetal positioning and a more comfortable pregnancy, as well as facilitate an easier labour and birth. After 32 weeks of gestation, if the baby isn’t in the occiput anterior head down position, the chiropractic Webster Technique can help encourage the baby to turn prior to the onset of labour.
Specific exercises, icing therapy, Epsom salt baths, and ergonomic modifications at work and while sleeping can also help alleviate prenatal strain. An exercise ball is ideal to sit on while pregnant as it keeps the pelvis and low back moving when you have to be stationary at a computer. Many workplaces are also incorporating standing desks which prevent you from having to sit for long periods of time. Ideal types of exercise during pregnancy include swimming and yoga, both of which encourage proper fetal positioning and decrease the strain on the spine. Pillow support while sleeping, especially between the legs while on your side, will stabilize the pelvis. Icing at twenty minute intervals, ideal at the end of the day, will decrease inflammation, and Epsom salt baths will ease muscular tension and reduce the swelling in the hands and feet that can occur in the third trimester.
Other prenatal aches and pains that can be helped with chiropractic care include headaches, heartburn, and carpal tunnel symptoms. Because chiropractic also affects the nervous system, it can neurologically reduce the stress on the spinal nerves that are being irritated from pregnancy. Pressure on certain nerves in the neck can cause headaches, in the upper back can lead to heartburn and in the neck and wrist, numbness and tingling in the hands.
Pregnancy is an exciting time full of physical and emotional changes and challenges. Chiropractic is a natural type of health care for both yourself and your baby, to aid in the sometimes unavoidable aches and pains of pregnancy.