The most common reason women seek out chiropractic care after their pregnancies is due to persisting lower back and neck pain.
Many women wait out their pregnancies without seeking treatment for their pain and hoping that it will go away once the baby is born. This is true for some, but not for all women.
The second most common reason that women see a chiropractor after their pregnancy is for pain that is due to Labor, usually due to the pushing process. Often times, as the baby descends through the birth, Canal, the bones of the pelvis can shift and misalign. This is common especially if the baby is posterior (baby’s spine is facing or against the mother’s spine) and the mother experiences back labor.
Regardless of the length of your labor or the size of your baby, misalignments or shifting in the position of the spine and pelvis are common during labor, leading to back pain that is experienced after the baby is born.
The third reason for a woman to seek out chiropractic care after the baby is born is what we refer to as “the New Mother Syndrome.” Some of the causes of this syndrome are the following:
- Incorrect posture during breast or bottle feeding.
- Carrying infant car seats.
- Extra body weight from carrying the growing baby.
- Utilizing infant carriers, which are great for mother/baby,
bonding but tough on a woman’s’ tired muscles and joints.
- Lack of sleep.
- Lack of exercise especially strength training.
- Lack of time to prepare healthy meals.
- Lifting older children out of the car seat, bath, stroller, etc.
common post-partum conditions.
- Lower back and neck pain.
- Sciatica (Pain, numbness or tingling into the buttocks and
down into the legs or feet).
- Coccyx or tailbone pain.
- Upper back pain.
- Wrist and elbow pain (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome).
Pregnancy is a time of great joy for women and their families, yet despite the excitement and anticipation at the arrival of this new life into the world, the journey can be an emotional and physical roller coaster ride. The nausea, vomiting, headaches, food aversions, fatigue, back pain, and emotional highs and lows are some of the vast array of “side effects” that a woman experiences during pregnancy.
Why do woman experience back, hip and leg pain during pregnancy?
During pregnancy a woman’s body goes through numerous changes, both chemically and structurally. Due to these changes, a woman’s spine is under a significant amount of stress and strain.
In fact, there are few events in life that put more stress on the spine than pregnancy. The spine must adapt to postural and weight changes than increase with each passing month. During their pregnancy, expectant mothers’ gain an average 30-40 pounds. Most of the weight is distributed to the abdomen, causing the normal center of gravity to shift forward. In order to compensate, the normal curves of the spine, especially in the lower back become exaggerated. These postural and structural changes can often create misalignments in the bones of the spine and the hip joints, affecting muscles, ligaments, nerves in the spine.
In addition, during pregnancy, there is a significant increase in a hormone called “RELAXIN.” The role of the “Relaxin” is the cause the Ligaments in the spine and Pelvis to become looser, allowing for the pelvic region to expand for the growing baby. This is a natural process but can often contribute to an increase in misalignment, tight muscles and pinched nerves in the lower back. It has been shown that joints may remain looser for up to months after delivery.
What Happens To The Spine During Pregnancy?
The bones of the spine called Vertebrae protect the spinal cord. When these bones move out of their proper alignment, they may press on the nerves that they are supposed to protect. This pressing or (Pinching) of nerves may disrupt the proper function of the body and may cause problems such as altered posture, pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.
Unfortunately, the majority of pregnant woman experience lower back pain at some point throughout their pregnancy, often during their last trimester. In addition, many pregnant woman experience sciatica, which is shooting pain into the buttock and/or leg, which are often associated symptoms that are caused by compensation due to the structural changes in the lower back and pelvis.
What Can We Do For The Pain?
With so many women experiencing so much pain during pregnancy, what is the solution?
Pain medication, other than Tylenol in moderate doses is forbidden, due to potential damage to the growing fetus. Women often try a vast array of solutions for their pain, using pillows to cushion their aches and pains, warm showers and baths, gentle massages from their partners, stretches, exercise, and bed rest, back supports…the list goes on and on. All of these are helpful, temporarily. However, they do not address the fact that there are structural misalignments in the spine and pelvis that are causing the pain to occur in the first place.
Chiropractic is an extremely effective solution for pregnant women dealing with the aches and pains that accompany pregnancy. Instead of simply treating your symptoms, the chiropractor addresses the cause, the spinal misalignments (Bones that are out of their normal place and position).
The chiropractic approach is a “whole body’ approach meaning that the Chiropractor will address all aspects of your life that may be causing your condition, from your stress level, to your exercise and nutritional programs and even your work and sleep positions. The chiropractor will also question you regarding the kind of chair you use at work, the pillow you sleep on and the type of mattress you and your partner use.
What To Expect At Your First Visit?
An initial visit to a Chiropractor will involve a thorough discussion of your pregnancy and the symptoms that you are currently experiencing. The doctor will provide a detailed examination, checking your posture, muscles, nerves, spinal bones, and joints of the pelvis and hips. You may experience some mild tenderness during this exam, due to the fact that he/she will be checking for areas that may be sensitive to touch or pressure. Rest assured, the examination is usually painless and very comfortable. Despite the fact that many chiropractors utilize X-Rays to aid in the analysis of the spine, pregnant women ARE NOT X-rayed to ensure the safety of the fetus.
Once a patient is examined, the doctor will perform a gentle yet effective treatment called a Chiropractic adjustment either manually utilizing the hands only or with highly specialized non-invasive instruments. Instrument adjusting has become more popular with many chiropractors because it is very specific to the bones which needs attention and less invasive therefore less painful.
Additionally, there is not cracking or popping heard. The adjustment is a procedure which involves gentle pressure to the bones of the spine in order to correct any spinal misalignments. The doctor may also massage and stretch the muscles of the back to decrease any tension or tightness. Special tables are used to allow the pregnant patient comfort during her adjustment.
Also, at your visit the doctor may discuss home stretching and exercise programs, recommend nutritional supplements, discuss your diet, and address any questions or concerns you may have regarding your ongoing treatment and condition. Your doctor may also encourage you to participate in pre-natal yoga, which is an excellent way to keep your spine strong and flexible throughout your pregnancy.
In addition he/she may suggest that you utilize pre-natal massage therapy in conjunction with your chiropractic adjustments. Many doctors work closely with massage therapists and often have a licensed massage therapist on staff. At your first or second visit, your doctor will recommend a treatment schedule depending on your symptoms and the severity of your condition.
The Benefits Of Prenatal Chiropractic Care
- Correct misalignments of the bone relieving pressure on the nerves.
- Help ensure that pelvic bones are properly aligned facilitating a Quicker, Easier, and Delivery.
- Reestablish the natural position of the joints.
Many women have accepted their pain as ‘’NORMAL” part of pregnancy.
However, why should we suffer with pain when a gentle, safe, and natural solution exists?
Chiropractic has helped tens of thousands of women through their pregnancies and has allowed them to enjoy this miraculous experience rather than struggle through it in constant pain and discomfort.
Currently, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association recommends that women receive regular chiropractic care through out 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 all together.