Pregnancy brings new adventure and beginnings. Over the approximately 9 months (40 week) gestation period, where a tiny human is being made, the body undergoes a tremendous amount of change. A pregnant mother’s body changes more in those 9 months than most people typically change in 9 years! Along with the obvious change of the belly getting bigger, there are other changes that affect the body as well. The ligaments and joints start to respond to the hormone relaxin which allows the pelvis to widen to make room for the little one. Relaxin helps to increase mobility, but it also decreases stability and can amplify pelvic imbalances as center of gravity shifts forward — this can lead to low back pain and other body aches and pains. Carrying the extra weight of the baby can cause hip, knee or ankle pain and increased breast size can add additional strain on the upper and mid-back.
So, let’s take a look at how chiropractic care can help in all the stages, from prior to conception and all the way to post-partum.
Before you get pregnant
As you and your partner are talking or thinking about getting pregnant, there are some things that you should take into consideration.
First off, it is important to have good gut health. All of the small microorganisms that are so important in bodily functions such as digesetion. During this time, it is important to be consuming nutrient dense foods. Consuming foods with natural pre and probiotics can be beneficial; ultimately mom’s gut helps build baby’s gut.
Apples & Bananas
Secondly, taking a good prenatal vitamin is recommended. These vitamins are rich in folate, iron, iodine and calcium, which are all essential for baby’s growth. These vitamins help cover any nutritional gaps in the mother’s diet.
Last, but certainly not least, getting regular chiropractic care is of utmost importance. Some benefits of chiropractic care prior to pregnancy include preparing the body for implantation, aligning the pelvis so that it is moving optimally, checking the pelvic ligaments for tightness and ensuring proper nerve supply to the reproductive organs.
The first trimester lasts from week 1 through the end of week 13. This is a period of a lot of growth for the baby; where the organs start to take shape and baby starts to move. Fetal brain development begins at the THIRD WEEK of gestation. Their brain needs fat/DHA to develop so it is important for mom to incorporate foods such as eggs, omegas and avocados into their diet. If you are experiencing nausea or morning sickness, try eating smaller, more frequent meals and increase your protein intake.
Mom may also start to notice some changes including bloating, anterior pelvic discomfort, low back pain and even some mid to upper back pain. Chiropractic care can help with all of these symptoms. During this time period, we focus on making sure your pelvis is balanced and your upper and lower back is mobile. During this trimester you may be feeling more tired and achy but it is recommended that you stay active. Yoga, walking, swimming and bodyweight exercises are good ways to stay active in your first trimester.
The second trimester is from week 13 to week 28. During this trimester, you may have more energy than you did in the first trimester so it is good to stay active. Mobility exercises for the low back, anterior hip stretches and chest-opening stretches are all going to be your friend during this trimester. Some women start to struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position due to the growing belly. We recommend the use of pillows to support your abdomen, pelvis and spine. These will help take the strain off those areas by creating a more neutral body position.
Chiropractic care during this trimester is starting to focus on fetal positioning. To do this, we make sure your pelvis is balanced and the ligaments surrounding the pelvis and belly are loose. Having an aligned pelvis allows the uterus to be aligned as well and gives your baby more room to move and get in the ideal position to head into the third trimester. The uterus is attached to the pelvis in 4 places so you can imagine that if the pelvis is misaligned, so is the uterus. During this trimester, round ligament pain tends to make an appearance. This can cause extreme discomfort for mom. Luckily, chiropractic care can help! Round ligaments respond very well to manual release that can be done in our office during your appointment. We also recommend some self-care for at home to help keep the pelvis stable. As your belly grows, we make adjustments to the table or add pillows to make sure we are not squishing you while you are lying face down.
Yay! You are in the home stretch! This trimester goes from week 29, all the way to week 40. Your baby will begin kicking a lot during this trimester. It is recommended that you start “kick counts” around week 28. During care, we will discuss what this means or if you have questions about it now, feel free to reach out via e-mail.
Chiropractic care during this trimester is still focusing on pelvic alignment and keeping you comfortable as you are heading toward labor and delivery. The hormone relaxin is in full swing now, making the joints and ligaments more mobile in preparation for the pelvis to widen during labor. We also will be asking about baby positioning a lot during this trimester. We want baby to be head down and rear facing around 32 weeks (OBGYN will want them head down by 36 weeks) so that if your baby is breech or not in the right position, we can start treatment to encourage your baby into the optimal position.
**As a chiropractor, we do not “turn babies”. We adjust the mom using Webster technique, balance the pelvis and give at home exercises to allow the baby more room to hopefully turn head down for birth.**
Just because you have brought your little bundle of joy home, mom’s care doesn’t stop. There is going to be a lot going on during this time while you adjust to having a new family member but it is important to listen to your body.
Chiropractic care can be beneficial in this stage while mom’s body is trying to get back to “normal”. Breastfeeding, carrying a car seat and walking with a stroller are all new things for mom. Breastfeeding can cause upper and mid back tightness and pain that we can help with. Pelvic alignment is still important in this stage as well as pelvic floor health and exercises. All these things will be checked and assessed during your post-partum appointment. When mom comes in for her appointment, that is a great time to bring baby in to get checked as well. If you have any questions about chiropractic care for babies, check out our previous blog post.
Now that we have been through each stage in depth, here are some benefits of receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy and after:
- Less upper, mid and low back pain
- More comfort while breastfeeding
- Less round ligament and pubic symphysis pain
- Less swelling
- Less constipation
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome relief
- Less overall pain with activity
- Reduced need for pain medications
- Decreased labor times
- In a study done by Dr. Joan Fallon, it has been demonstrated that chiropractic care reduces the amount of time spent in labor by 25% in a first time mom and 31% in women delivering for the 2nd or 3rd time
Is Chiropractic Care Safe While I Am Pregnant?
Yes! Chiropractic care is safe during pregnancy. Your chiropractor will assess you individually for any risks before starting care. We may use special techniques such as Webster Technique, activator or the drop table depending on what is going on. We also will make adjustments to the table as stated above to accommodate you while your belly grows.
— Dr. Alyssa
If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment, call Kinetic Living at 780.761.8821 or visit the website www.kineticliving.ca