The miracle of life, the anticipation of a beautiful baby, and that expectant-mother glow may make pregnancy a magical time of life, but it’s not all a bed of roses. There’s morning sickness, acne, swollen feet, fatigue, and all sorts of aches and pains to deal with. Your physician may be able to help with morning sickness, and a few well-deserved spa days and afternoon naps could help with acne and fatigue. For the sore back that comes from pregnancy, some chiropractic care during pregnancy might help you immensely.
Chiropractic care during pregnancy basics
Chiropractic care while pregnant, if performed by a full-licensed chiropractor, is completely safe.
There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care during pregnancy. In fact, chiropractors are trained to safely and effectively treat pregnant women. In fact, some researchers suggest that musculoskeletal pain management, such as chiropractic care, ought to become a standard part of obstetric care. Specialized techniques are used to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the abdomen. Also, specialized tables or equipment might be used. These are also to avoid putting undue pressure on the abdomen.
However, few women receive the chiropractic care during pregnancy that they really need. One study found that 80% of women reported going without treatment for musculoskeletal pain during pregnancy. Also, pain in the first pregnancy has been linked to pain during subsequent pregnancies, so undergoing chiropractic treatment sooner rather than later might have seriously lasting benefits.
Pain conditions that occur during pregnancy
The back aches, leg pain, and loss of balance during pregnancy can be minimized by chiropractic care during pregnancy.
In preparation for birth, the ligaments in the pelvis lose their rigidity, which can lead to the pelvis becoming unstable. The growing uterus can push and pull the parts of the pelvis and hips into different positions. These changes can both affect pelvic balance and cause low back pain. In fact, TheBump.com, a website devoted to all pregnancy-related topics, states:
“Not only is it safe to visit a chiropractor during your pregnancy, it’s also highly beneficial… Getting regularly adjusted while pregnant is a great way to relieve the added stress on your spine that comes along with the weight gain.”
In addition to helping you control lower back pain, chiropractic adjustment during pregnancy can prevent sciatica. Sciatica is the inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down the back of the legs and to the feet. When this nerve is inflamed or damaged, it causes radiating or shooting pain down the buttock, the back of the leg, and potentially all the way to the foot.
Some medications that could help with the back and leg pain of pregnancy may be contraindicated during pregnancy. Your physician or OB/GYN should be able to provide medications that are completely safe to take while pregnant, but chiropractic care is a great drug-free pain management option for expectant mothers who prefer to use as few medications as possible. It’s still a good idea to discuss pain, medications, and chiropractic care with your physician or OB/GYN, though.
Chiropractic care and sleep
Chiropractic care during pregnant might also facilitate better-quality sleep.
Getting enough sleep is vitally important all the time, including during pregnancy. This is largely because once that new baby comes home, sleep will become a rare thing. However, sleep is important for other reasons, too. Researchers at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) compared the amount of sleep women got late in their pregnancies with their labor times and types of birth. It was found that women who got less than six hours of sleep per night during their final month of pregnancy averaged 29 hours of labor, compared to an average of 17.7 hours of labor for women who slept seven or more hours per night.
Additionally, it was found that compared to women who reported poor sleep two or less nights per week about three weeks before delivery, women who reported poor sleep three to four nights per week were 4.2 times as likely to need a cesarean delivery. Women who reported poor sleep five or more nights per week were 5.3 times as likely to need a cesarean delivery.
This means that it’s important to take the time to get a good night’s rest as often as possible while pregnant. If your back hurts, it’s hard to sleep; research has even shown that a pregnant woman’s quality of sleep is closely related to back pain. By undergoing chiropractic care during pregnancy, you can improve your sleep and, by extension, perhaps make sure that your labor experience is a little easier.
More about chiropractic care during pregnancy
There are additional ways that chiropractic care during pregnancy can help you have an easier birth.
When a baby is breech, it’s positioned to come out feet- or bottom-first. The delivery for a breech baby has a higher risk of complications, and most medical professionals recommend a cesarean delivery rather than a vaginal birth. Several options exist to encourage the baby to move into a cephalic (or head-first) position before delivery, and one of these is the Webster Technique. This is a chiropractic adjustment that’s used to encourage the baby to move into the head-first position by correcting the musculoskeletal causes of intrauterine contracture.
In 2002, the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics published the results of a survey about the effectiveness of the Webster Technique. Chiropractors using the Webster Technique reported an 82% success rate at encouraging the baby to move into a cephalic position. This technique has the added benefit of being medication free, unlike some of the other potential ways to encourage a breech baby to move into a cephalic position.
Chiropractic care while pregnant might also shorten labor time. Women who received chiropractic care during their first pregnancy will experience a labor time that is, on average, 25% shorter. During subsequent pregnancies with chiropractic care, the time spent in labor is reduced by 31% on average.
Finding a chiropractor
There are several ways to find a chiropractor who can provide chiropractic care during your pregnancy.
Your OB/GYN or primary care physician might be able to provide recommendations. A local phone book or a quick online search might also yield results. While all chiropractors are trained to provide care to pregnant women, it’s always a good bet to find someone with experience treating pregnant women. Because of this, consider calling a few different chiropractic offices and enquiring about the practitioners’ experience with pregnant women.
Additionally, online databases provide a quick, easy way to find chiropractors with specific specialties. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), for instance, includes a host of specialty options in its search criteria, including obstetrics and the Webster Technique. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) specializes in providing information about chiropractic care for children, but they also have a search available for Webster Certified Chiropractors.
Have you benefitted from chiropractic care during pregnancy?
Image by Teza Harinaivo Ramiandrisoa via Flickr