Proper chiropractic for pregnancy can help relieve lower back and knee pain, swollen ankles, foot pain and a number of other issues
A woman’s body goes through a tremendous amount of change during the nine months of pregnancy, particularly during the second and third trimesters. During this time, the fetus grows from approximately 1.5 ounces at week 13, to anywhere from 6.5 to 10 pounds at 40 weeks for a full term delivery. However, pregnant women will gain more than just the weight of the fetus over the course of their pregnancy. Most women will gain a total of 25-35 extra pounds during pregnancy. Given that amount of added weight in such a short amount of time, it should not be surprising for you to get questions about the safety and efficacy of chiropractic for pregnancy, particularly during the second and third trimesters.
Fortunately, there is a great deal of evidence to show a tremendous benefit for chiropractic for pregnancy in treating a number of conditions.
2nd and 3rd trimester changes
By the end of the first trimester (week 12), most of the fetus’ primary organs have formed, so the second and third trimesters are mainly dedicated to fetal growth. Unfortunately, this is also when many pregnant women begin to experience back problems that occur as a result of changes in posture to compensate for their expanding abdomen, as it shifts their center of gravity further forward.
As this happens, the lumbar curve will increase, so the mother will begin to lean backward as she stands and walks, in order to compensate for her changing body’s forward tilt. This leads to the rather telltale “penguin waddle” that many women develop as they get closer to their due date.
The release of certain hormones that will prepare the mother’s body for delivery can also cause back issues as the third trimester progresses. Under normal circumstances, the pelvic ligaments are very stiff. During pregnancy, the mother’s body releases a hormone known as relaxin, which softens the pelvic ligaments, allowing for the bones to shift apart and widen, making delivery easier. This shift, as the baby grows larger and sits lower in the pelvis, will also put pressure on the lumbar area of the spine and further add to the change in the expectant mother’s center of gravity.
Of course, such changes to the lumbar area don’t just affect the spine. As you well know, any shift of the spine out of alignment can also affect the knees, ankles, and feet. Many pregnant women will experience edema, or swelling of the ankles and feet, during the second and third trimesters. This is due to pressure that is placed on the sciatic nerves that run down the back of the legs.
Chronic edema during pregnancy can cause stiffness and soreness in the joints and, in severe instances, is an early warning sign for preeclampsia, which can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby.
Chiropractic for pregnancy and relieving pain
As noted above, much of the pain that pregnant women experience stems from misaligned vertebrae as a result of weight gain during the second and third trimester. Therefore, is clear that spinal adjustments to the lumbar region of the spine, as well as to the sacroiliac joint, can relieve much of the lower-back pain women experience as their pregnancy progresses. Furthermore, adjustments to the sacroiliac joint may also help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve, which can reduce knee pain and swelling in the ankles and feet.
Pregnancy can be both an exciting and somewhat scary time for an expectant mother, particularly if she is awaiting her first baby. Fortunately, proper chiropractic for pregnancy can help relieve lower back and knee pain, swollen ankles, and foot pain that often start toward the second trimester. Gentle, safe adjustments can not only reduce an expectant mother’s pain, but ease her worry about how her pregnancy is proceeding.