Roughly 50% of pregnant women experience back pain. Fortunately, chiropractic care during pregnancy can mitigate back pain and labor complications.
Chiropractic care involves maintaining the health of the spine, bone geometry and associated nerves without using surgery or drugs. Research supports the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic care as a remedy for the musculoskeletal issues that affect expectant women. By adjusting misaligned joints, especially along the spine, chiropractors can reduce spinal nerve stress, hence promoting overall body health.
Is It Safe to Receive Chiropractic Care during Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, women should avoid using chronic and non-steroidal pain pills to relieve pain since they are addictive and could prematurely close the heart valve of the fetus. Instead, pregnant women should opt for chiropractic care since it is a drug-free, safe and effective way of relieving the pain and discomfort that comes with pregnancy and labor.
While it is safe for expectant women to visit chiropractors any time throughout their pregnancy, they should seek a doctor’s approval first. Chiropractic care during pregnancy is not safe for women with one or more of the following conditions:
- Ruptured amniotic membranes
- Vaginal bleeding
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Moderate or severe toxemia
- Premature labor
- Acute pelvic pain
- Placenta previa or abruption
Even though all licensed chiropractors are trained to handle pregnant patients, chiropractors specialized in prenatal and postnatal care (for example, ICPA-certified chiropractors) may be more knowledgeable. For optimal results, chiropractic care should not cease at the end of the first trimester.
What Conditions Does Chiropractic Care Alleviate during Pregnancy?
Pain and discomfort are a common occurrence during pregnancy due to biomechanical changes such as:
- Weight gain
- Anterior pelvic tilt due to increased lumbar lordosis
- Altered gait pattern
- Lax lumbopelvic ligaments
Despite many obstetric providers being unaware, chiropractic care can alleviate the musculoskeletal conditions that result from these changes and their accompanying symptoms. Here are some musculoskeletal conditions that chiropractic care can relieve during pregnancy.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is common during pregnancy and the postpartum period due to excessive lumbar spine stress. Depending on the pregnant woman’s activity level, this pain can range from mild to severe.
Sciatic Nerve Pain
Increased stiffness in the glutes and deep external rotators irritates and sometimes compresses the sciatic nerve in pregnant women. This causes lower back pain that sometimes extends to the legs.
Pubic Symphysis Pain
Relaxin, a hormone released during pregnancy, makes the ligaments that stabilize the pubic symphysis to relax, hence allowing the joint to separate. Commonly known as SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction), this condition limits mobility and is painful.
Ligament laxity due to hormonal changes causes movement and shifting in the otherwise stable sacroiliac joints. This extra mobility causes pain in the hip region by stressing the surrounding muscles and ligaments.
Round Ligament Pain
The round ligaments are cord-like structures that support the uterus by suspending and connecting it to the groin area. These round ligaments stretch as the uterus expands, causing sharp pain at the attachment sites near the labia or on either abdominal side.
What Are the Benefits of Chiropractic Care during Pregnancy?
Trouble-Free Labor and Delivery
Regular chiropractic care during pregnancy can help ensure short, pain-free labor and delivery. This is because chiropractic care keeps the pelvis, hips and spine well-aligned while fostering optimal nerve function.
Less Back Pain
In preparation for labor and birthing, the female body produces hormones like relaxin that loosen the pelvic ligaments and joints. This may cause spinal instability and pain due to the sudden fragility and loosening of the supporting ligaments. Regular adjustments by a qualified chiropractor can relieve back pain caused by lax ligaments and joints due to relaxin production.
Optimal Baby Positioning
Breech position happens when a baby is not in the headfirst position during labor and can cause complications such as cord prolapse, extremely difficult vaginal delivery and C-section delivery. Chiropractic care helps to maintain a healthy pelvic balance, and consequently, ample room for the baby to move into the headfirst position before birth. Regular chiropractic adjustments during the third trimester can help prevent breech presentation and position the baby optimally.
Commonly known as morning sickness, nausea is a typical symptom of pregnancy. It is very uncomfortable and can be difficult to bear during the first trimester. Chiropractic care can reduce the severity of nausea by realigning the spine, thus improving the general function of the nervous system.
Chiropractic care generally fixes nerve obstructions along the spine that may prevent the immune system and organs from functioning optimally. Mothers with well-functioning immune systems often give birth to healthy babies with strong immune systems. Prenatal chiropractic care enhances the overall health of both pregnant women and their unborn babies.