Pregnancy, particularly for a first child, can be both an exciting and a nerve-wracking time for a woman.
She is probably both eagerly anticipating the arrival of her baby and trying not to stress herself out in preparation for labor and delivery. Furthermore, a woman’s body goes through a number of changes throughout pregnancy, not all of them simply from added weight as the fetus grows. Unfortunately, a number of these bodily changes can add to her stress and discomfort. Can chiropractic help relieve this discomfort, while still being safe for both the mother and the developing fetus?
How the mother’s body changes during pregnancy
Starting in the second trimester, the “baby belly” will start to show, which can actually affect the spine in a number of ways. The rather distinctive pregnancy walk is a result of two things. First, the curve to the lumbar region of the spine will increase as the stomach pushes further forward. Second, the pelvic position also may shift further forward as the fetus grows.1
All of this will combine to change both the posture and the gait. Once this happens, the knees, ankles, and feet may be affected by having to accommodate both an increased load and a change in the load position. Additionally, the body secretes relaxin hormones during pregnancy to loosen up the ligaments around the pelvis in preparation for delivery. This may also add stress to the pelvis and lower spine.1
Benefits of chiropractic for pregnant women
Chiropractic can begin to benefit women starting in the second trimester as the above-mentioned changes in the abdomen and pelvis start to take place. Properly adjusting the lumbar region will help ease the lower back pain that is a common complaint of pregnant women. This will help patients sleep more soundly and be able to sit, stand, and walk for longer periods of time. It will also improve the posture, which will alleviate undue pressure on the legs, knees, and feet. It may help reduce water retention (edema) in the ankles and feet due to poor circulation, as well.2
As the third trimester progresses, aligning the pelvis will have the added benefit of helping the fetus shift into the proper, head-down position required for delivery. A properly aligned pelvis may also offset the occurrence of false or prolonged labor.2
What does the research say?
A case report published in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, and Family Health discussed a woman in week 34 of pregnancy, whose fetus was in a breech position. She underwent three light-force chiropractic adjustments, after which the fetus shifted into the proper head-down position for delivery at week 40 of pregnancy.3
Despite what many people may think, pregnancy is not always about glowing with the anticipation of a new arrival. It can put tremendous strain on the body. Fortunately, chiropractic care can provide safe, natural pain relief for the mother to be.
1 Denver Spine and Rehabilitation Center. “Managing back pain during pregnancy.” Medscape General Medicine. 1997:1(2).
2 American Pregnancy Association. “Chiropractic care during pregnancy.” AmericanPregnancy.org. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/chiropractic-care-during-pregnancy/. Updated January 2014. Accessed January 2015.
3 Abbott M. “Resolution of breech presentation confirmed by ultrasound following Webster’s technique.” J. Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health. 2012(3);66–68.