There is no denying the changes a pregnant woman will encounter. Pregnancy, more than most life experiences, literally does change everything. In particular, a woman's body will undergo many major changes during and after pregnancy.
During pregnancy, the body's skeletal system adjusts on a daily basis to the changes in posture and weight bearing stresses brought about by weight gain and redistribution of the weight. Most women will gain about 25-35 pounds or more during their pregnancy.
In addition to being heavier, the forward shift of the weight alters a woman's center of balance and impairs normal walking and other activities.
For some women it seems like everything becomes somewhat more difficult during pregnancy. However, gentle chiropractic care can make things a lot easier as the pregnancy goes along. Chiropractic care has been helpful for decades in helping women adjust to their bodily changes during and after childbirth. Chiropractic care is safe and beneficial for women as they proceed through their entire pregnancy.
One important change during pregnancy is the increase in the hormone relaxin. Relaxin does exactly what it sounds like; it relaxes the ligaments that allow the bones to become looser and more accommodating during pregnancy.
This change is particularly important in the pelvis, as the baby grows larger and begins to sit lower in the pelvis. This relaxation and widening of the pelvis in itself changes the way a pregnant woman walks.
As the baby grows the weight of the uterus begins to project more forward, putting a great deal more pressure on the spinal and pelvic joints. The natural tendency is for the expectant mother to begin to tilt backward to maintain balance and center of gravity.
Although the change in posture is gradual, and the mother adapts to the shift in weight and posture to a great degree, more than 50% of pregnant women will experience significant back pain. Yet only a quarter of pregnant women will consult their primary care doctors or obstetricians about back pain.
One of the reasons cited by pregnant women for failure to discuss back pain with their medical doctors include feeling like back pain is "just a part of being pregnant and there is nothing to do about it". Also women report having conversations with other mothers who tell them that their doctor advised to just try to live with it, stretch or take medications such as Tylenol.
Knowing that chiropractic care is safe and effective for back pain during pregnancy has brought an immense amount of relief to many pregnant patients. The expectant mother can be treated easily throughout the entire pregnancy. During the first trimester, most women are very comfortable being treated in the routine positions used on chiropractic tables; on their abdomen or their backs. Later, either a side-posture method can be used or some chiropractic tables have special adaptations designed for pregnant patients.
The primary role of the chiropractor with the pregnant patient as with all patients is to assess the function of joints and muscles, particularly in the spine but in our office we treat all joints. This is important in cases where pregnant patients have problems such as carpal tunnel (wrist pain). The ability of the spine and other joints to move fully and freely without pain or restriction is the first goal of treatment.
Many pregnant women find that as their pregnancy progresses they experience more pain and stiffness. The stiffness may be related to the joints not moving as they should or possibly muscular imbalances. These problems often readily respond to gentle chiropractic adjustments.
In some cases women may experience pain, tingling or numbness into the legs during pregnancy. This is usually due to a nerve that runs into the leg from the spine being pinched or otherwise irritated.
Chiropractic care can usually alleviate this type of nerve pressure during pregnancy. A chiropractor will assess the entire spine and pelvis of the pregnant patient. Then the chiropractor will apply gentle corrective adjustments as needed to improve joint function and relieve nerve pressure.
During pregnancy, more than any time in a woman's life, taking proactive steps to maintain proper spinal joint and nerve function ensures that her health can be enhanced to the fullest.