Pregnancy and Chiropractic…

As many new mothers, or returning mothers to be can attest, the muscle strains and spasms of pregnancy are very real and can be more than just a nuisance. The average weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the baby, may result in severe discomfort. Studies have found that about half of all expectant mothers will develop low-back pain at some point during their pregnancy and most will revert to almost anything in order to have a few hours of reprieve. This pain seems to intensify as the pregnancy progresses when the babies head tends to press low in the pelvic cavity placing added pressure upon the spinal and pelvic nerves and in many times the dreaded Sciatic Nerve.

As the pregnancy progresses the abdomen enlarges and protrudes and the center of gravity is displaced forward placing undue workload upon the musculature of the low back. Through this process the baby continues to gain weight causing the mother to develop an increased in the normal lumbar lordosis leading to an accentuated swayback of the spine. As a result of  that the upper back will have to compensate causing a hunching and leaning forward placing additional stress to the thoracic spine as well.

While these changes sound dramatic, pregnancy hormones help loosen the ligaments attached to the pelvic bones. But even these natural changes designed to accommodate the growing baby can result in postural imbalances, making pregnant women prone to having awkward trips and falls.

What Can You Do?
The ACA recommend the following tips for pregnant women:

Exercise

  • Safe exercise during pregnancy can help strengthen your muscles and prevent discomfort. Try exercising at least three times a week, gently stretching before and after exercise. If you weren’t active before your pregnancy, check with your doctor before starting or continuing any exercise.
  • Walking, swimming, and stationary cycling are relatively safe cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women because they do not require jerking or bouncing movements. Jogging can be safe for women who were avid runners before becoming pregnant-if done carefully and under a doctor’s supervision.
  • Be sure to exercise in an area with secure footing to minimize the likelihood of falls. Your heart rate should not exceed 140 beats per minute during exercise. Strenuous activity should last no more than 15 minutes at a time.
  • Stop your exercise routine immediately if you notice any unusual symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding, dizziness, nausea, weakness, blurred vision, increased swelling, or heart palpitations.

Health and Safety

  • Wear flat, sensible shoes. High or chunky heels can exacerbate postural imbalances and make you less steady on your feet, especially as your pregnancy progresses.
  • When picking up children, bend from the knees, not the waist. And never turn your head when you lift. Avoid picking up heavy objects, if possible.
  • Get plenty of rest. Pamper yourself and ask for help if you need it. Take a nap if you’re tired, or lie down and elevate your feet for a few moments when you need a break.

Pregnancy Ergonomics: Your Bed and Desk

  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Full-length “body pillows” or “pregnancy wedges” may be helpful. Lying on your left side allows unobstructed blood flow and helps your kidneys flush waste from your body.
  • If you have to sit at a computer for long hours, make your workstation ergonomically correct. Position the computer monitor so the top of the screen is at or below your eye level, and place your feet on a small footrest to take pressure off your legs and feet. Take periodic breaks every 30 minutes with a quick walk around the office.

Nutrition

  • Eat small meals or snacks every four to five hours-rather than the usual three large meals-to help keep nausea or extreme hunger at bay. Snack on crackers or yogurt-bland foods high in carbohydrates and protein. Keep saltines in your desk drawer or purse to help stave off waves of “morning sickness.”
  • Supplementing with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid a day before and during pregnancy has been shown to decrease the risk of neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida. Check with your doctor before taking any vitamin or herbal supplement to make sure it’s safety for you and the baby.

How Can Your Doctor of Chiropractic Help?
Before you become pregnant, your chiropractor can detect any imbalances in the pelvis or elsewhere in your body that could contribute to pregnancy discomfort or possible neuromusculoskeletal problems after childbirth.

We have seen hundreds of pregnant women over the years and found that chiropractic adjustments provide relief from the increased low-back pain brought on by pregnancy. Chiropractic adjustments are safe for the pregnant woman and her baby and can be especially attractive to those who are trying to avoid medications in treating their back pain. Most chiropractors can also offer nutrition, ergonomic, and exercise advice to help a woman enjoy a healthy pregnancy.

Chiropractic care can also help after childbirth. In the eight weeks following labor and delivery, the ligaments that loosened during pregnancy begin to tighten up again. Ideally, joint problems brought on during pregnancy from improper lifting or reaching should be treated before the ligaments return to their pre-pregnancy state-to prevent muscle tension, headaches, rib discomfort, and shoulder problems.

So to answer the age old question of whether Chiropractic is safe or appropriate for pregnant mothers…my opinion is that it is a Necessity!

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One Response

  1. The gentle nature of McTimoney makes it suitable for people of all ages including young children, pregnant women and the elderly. Studies have shown that chiropractic can be helpful for a range of conditions including low back pain, neck pain and joint pain.

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