Monday, February 18, 2013

Chiropractic Care and Pregnancy

Chiropractic during pregnancy is a vital component of prenatal care. This safe and effective form of natural healthcare not only helps lessen the aches and pains of pregnancy but also promotes a safer and easier birth. Gentle chiropractic adjustments done throughout pregnancy are beneficial to both mother and baby.

To understand how chiropractic helps pregnant women, it's necessary to understand the anatomy of the pelvis and uterus. The pelvis is essentially a bony ring, with two sacro-iliac joints ('SI joints') in the back, and the pubic symphysis in the front. The pubic symphysis is the juncture where the pubic bones are connected. The uterus sits inside this bony ring, and is tethered to the pelvis by three main sets of ligaments. The Broad Ligament surrounds the uterus and attaches to the sides of the pelvis on the inside. The Round Ligaments attach the uterus to the front of the pelvis at the pubic symphysis. These are the ligaments that often produce sharp pains during early pregnancy when a pregnant woman sneezes or turns over too quickly. The Uterosacral Ligaments attach the uterus to the back of the pelvis at the sacrum.

As the baby and uterus grow, stress is placed on these ligaments, distorting the structure of the pelvis, lower-back and mid-back. In addition, the shift in the pregnant woman's center of gravity, coupled with significant weight gain, causes even more stress on these areas, and on the surrounding musculature.

To top it all off, pregnancy induces the release of a hormone called relaxin. As you may have guessed, the function of this important and powerful hormone is to allow the ligaments which connect the pubic bones to relax and separate, thus allowing for delivery of the baby. However, the effect of relaxin is experienced throughout all the ligaments of the body, and is lifelong.

This explains why moms-to-be experience so much pain and discomfort, especially in the lower back. In addition, a misaligned pelvis can result in torque being put on the uterus through it's ligamentous attachments, which often results in malpositioning of the baby, into a breech or transverse position.

The goal of a chiropractor throughout a woman's pregnancy is to help keep the pelvis and spine balanced and properly aligned. This allows for the most comfortable pregnancy, and it ensures proper function of the nerves which exit the spine. This is crucial, because these nerves are responsible for the body's communication and coordination of all body functions, including the proper growth of the baby. Chiropractors restore proper spinal alignment by employing gentle, specific corrections called 'adjustments', which restore vital nerve flow and reduce aches and pains. Some chiropractors work with the round ligaments of the uterus as well as adjusting the pelvis to help balance the pelvis and uterus. There are various techniques specifically designed for adjusting pregnant women, as well as pillow systems which are designed to provide your tummy maximum comfort while lying face-down.

Chiropractic can lessen discomfort and make pregnancy more enjoyable. It can also help to promote a safer and easier birth, by helping to balance the uterus, which encourages the baby to be in a proper head-down position. Seek out a chiropractor who is experienced with adjusting pregnant women when considering chiropractic treatment during pregnancy.

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