The Body's Structural Changes During Pregnancy
Throughout pregnancy a woman's body endures several changes, both physiological and endocrinological, that create a proper environment for a growing baby. These changes, however, often result in a misaligned spine and joints. A few of the changes include:
- The release of hormones that cause muscle and ligament relaxation, allowing joints to misalign more easily;
- Change in weight distribution causing lumbar and thoracic spinal curves;
- Increased weight gain causing vertebral and sacroiliac joint misalignments; and
- Increased weight gain that causes stress on the spine and pelvis.
Pelvic balance and alignment is especially vital during pregnancy since a woman's pelvis has key ligaments that support the uterus. As her baby grows, the role of these ligaments becomes especially important. As long as the pelvis is balanced during pregnancy, the uterus will also be symmetrically supported. This especially matters because it allows the baby the adequate amount of room to move and develop normally in utero.
Doctors of Chiropractic are trained to adjust misaligned joints in the body, promoting overall health. Incorporating chiropractic treatments into prenatal care is highly recommended and is effective in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. The benefits of this type of care extend to both the mother and child.
Why Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy Makes a Difference
There are many potential benefits for women who seek chiropractic care during pregnancy. These benefits can positively affect both the actual pregnancy and delivery. They include:
- Maintaining a healthier pregnancy
- Reducing nausea symptoms
- Reducing labor and delivery time
- Relieving back, neck, and joint pain
- Preventing a potential cesarean delivery
Any obstetrical intervention (e.g., Pitocin, epidural anesthesia) increases the risk of additional, and possibly more serious, procedures. With these interventions, the likelihood of a surgical or mechanical (e.g., forceps, vacuum) delivery increases as well. And because these unnatural methods of delivery can traumatize both the mother and baby, reducing our reliance on them is imperative. One way to do just that is through proper prenatal chiropractic care since it assists in preparing the mother's baby for a healthy delivery.
If baby is in the breech position, a chiropractor will often adjust the mother using the Webster Technique. This technique reduces stress on the uterus and nervous system while balancing the pelvis, muscles, and supporting ligaments. A balanced pelvis has been clinically shown to allow for ideal fetal positioning. When using the Webster Technique Chiropractors have an 82% success rate of babies turning vertex for normal delivery, according to the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (2002).
Tips to Improve Alignment Throughout Pregnancy
- Avoid one-sided positions and repetitive motions to one side.
- When sitting, avoid long periods of time in reclining positions. Keep knees lower than hips and avoid crossing legs.
- When sleeping, prop pillows between the knees for comfort.
- Avoid wearing high heels.
- Seek a chiropractor who is trained and experienced with pregnant women.
Chiropractic care is a valuable piece of a woman's prenatal regimen throughout her pregnancy. Its many benefits can improve the experience for the woman, translating into a healthy pregnancy for the mother and safe delivery of the baby.