See also: Pediatrics
Benefits of Seeing a Prenatal Chiropractor
We cannot always see the vast amount of hormonal and chemical changes occurring to both mom and the developing baby during pregnancy. These changes are coordinated and kept in balance through the nervous system. A healthy spine is imperative for an optimally functioning nervous system that responds immediately and accurately to the changing requirements in the body.
A doctor of chiropractic aligns the vertebrae and pelvis through gentle adjustments to the spine, this alleviates any nerve irritation and helps keep the spine as healthy as possible during this time.
Pregnancy often brings out the inherent problems in the spine or pelvis:
- Lumbar Spine and Pelvis: As the mother gains weight, this exerts a downward and forward pull on the lumbar spine. During pregnancy, a mother’s gait and center of gravity is affected, commonly causing backaches or pelvic pain. Furthermore, the release of relaxin causes the ligaments of the spine and pelvis to loosen which can exaggerate an already existing condition.
- Upper Back: The mother’s increasing breast size in preparation for lactation often creates upper back tension and less mobility with normal breathing.
- Ribcage: The natural position of the baby causes expansion of the lower ribcage and as the baby grows this can lead to rib pain and mid back pain.
Close to 50% of women experience some sort of back pain during their pregnancy. Pregnancy can wreak havoc on your neck, shoulders, back, hips, legs, and feet. Most women who go through pregnancy are aware of the importance of good nutrition while carrying their baby. But many are not aware the vital role that chiropractic care can play in guarding against pain and, in some cases, long-term and debilitating joint and muscle injuries.
The American Pregnancy Association states: "Chiropractic care is health maintenance of the spinal column, discs, related nerves and bone geometry without drugs or surgery. It involves the art and science of adjusting misaligned joints of the body. There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy."
Pregnant women gain an average of 25 to 35 pounds. This additional weight, in tandem with the trauma and bodily changes of pregnancy, places an enormous amount of stress on the musculoskeletal system.
A woman's center of gravity almost immediately begins to shift forward to the front of the pelvis during pregnancy. This increases stress on the joints. As the woman's weight is projected even farther forward, her lower back curvature actually increases. This places additional stress on the discs in the lumbar region. The pain is most prevalent during the latter stages of the pregnancy, when the baby begins to descend toward the hips, placing pressure on organs and nerves.
Here are a few suggestions from the American Chiropractic Association:
- Anything that doesn't involve jerking or bouncing movements is considered a safe exercise for pregnant women. This would include walking, swimming, and stationary cycling. Make sure you exercise on a stable surface and wear shoes with non-slip soles. Ensure that your heart rate doesn't exceed 140 beats per minute.
- Try to restrict your exercise routines to no more than 15 minutes.
- Stop immediately if you experience dizziness, nausea, weakness, blurred vision, increased swelling, vaginal bleeding, or heart palpitations.
- Bend from your knees, not your waist, when picking up small children or objects. Avoid any twisting or turning motions during a lift.
- Get plenty of rest. Don't let the demands of work and family life put you and your baby at risk. Pamper yourself, and ask for help if you need it. Take a nap if you are tired, or lie down and elevate your feet for a few moments when you need a break. If you work behind a computer or at a desk during the day, ensure that it is designed ergonomically. Take frequent breaks.
- Take the pressure off your lower back when sleeping by lying on your side with a pillow between your knees. Lying on your left side is ideal because it allows unobstructed blood flow, and helps your kidneys flush waste from your body.
- Chiropractic care during your pregnancy is considered safe and can help you manage pain better without the use of drugs or surgical treatment, as well as gain valuable insight into nutrition, ergonomics, and exercise.
- Following childbirth, chiropractic care can help alleviate joint problems incurred during the pregnancy, as well as provide relief from muscle tension, headaches, rib discomfort, and shoulder problems.