As if any of us needed proof of the changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy, you can see from the photos above the beautiful progression that occurs as a baby grows within.
Being a father I know the joy of the period of time as a baby is forming and all the expectant worries about the health of the mother and developing child.
The changes an expectant mother experiences are phenomenal! Glands and hormones working overtime, affecting mood and emotions and setting about preparing the growing environment for new life. The physical changes are the most obvious. Visible weight gain, besides the baby bump, puts more strain on the infrastructure of the frame and muscle needed to function as normal.
A protruding abdomen and increased back curve makes walking, sitting and lying-down a different and sometimes difficult process.
Pelvic changes occur as the body prepares to widen the birthing canal. The aptly named Relaxin hormone is released in the third trimester which induces ligament laxity. This can make the ‘symphysis pubis’ unstable, causing some pretty strange sensations and sometimes pain. Walking, standing or rolling over in bed can really hurt as one side of the joint shifts more than the other, throwing everything off-kilter. Sitting down to get dressed, avoiding heavy lifting and pushing (which is normal for any pregnancy) and wearing a support belt under the tummy will help to control symptoms and associated pain.
These postural adaptations are an inevitable reason that vertebral subluxations occur for so many expectant mothers. Establishing pelvic balance and alignment is another reason to obtain chiropractic care during pregnancy. When the pelvis is misaligned it may reduce the amount of room available for the developing baby. This restriction is called intrauterine constraint. A misaligned pelvis may also make it difficult for the baby to get into the best possible position for delivery. This can affect the mother's ability to have a natural, non-invasive birth. Breech and posterior positions can interfere with the natural ease of labor and lead to interventions such as c-sections.
The nervous system is the master communication system to all the body systems including the reproductive system. Keeping the spine aligned helps the entire body work more effectively.
So, what are the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy?
- Spinal alignment providing freedom from interference of normal nerve energy which is vital for the development of a healthy baby and mother.
- Helping to keep pelvic bones properly aligned, facilitating a quicker, easier delivery.
- Maintaining a healthier pregnancy
- Controlling symptoms of nausea
- Reducing the time of labor and delivery
- Relieving back, neck and joint pain
- Helping to prevent a potential cesarean delivery
- Re-establishing the natural position and mobility of the joints.
What about chiropractic care and breech deliveries?
There are specific adjustments that aid with the turning of a baby in the third trimester of gestation. The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported in the July/August 2002 issue an 82% success rate of babies turning vertex when doctors of chiropractic used the Webster Technique. Further, the results from the study suggest that it may be beneficial to perform the Webster Technique as soon as the 8th month of pregnancy when a woman has a breech presentation. Optimal baby positioning at the time of birth also eliminates the potential for dystocia (difficult labor) and therefore results in easier and safer deliveries for both the mother and baby.
As more women are seeking the benefits of chiropractic care throughout pregnancy, more health care providers are seeking trained doctors of chiropractic in their communities to whom they can refer their pregnant patients.
Chiropractic care through pregnancy is not only safe, I see it as essential. A chiropractor looks at the implications of subluxation from a bio-mechanical, hormonal and neurological standpoint. It is easy for all of us to see postural changes through pregnancy-the centre of gravity changes, the weight of the baby places increased pressure on the spine and pelvis, and towards the end of the pregnancy, changes are seen in gait pattern-the "waddle." What we can't see, are the different hormonal changes and chemical reactions occurring both in the mother and the developing baby - all of which are controlled and coordinated through the nervous system by the brain.
Adjustments result in easier pregnancy, significantly decreased mean labor time, and assists new mothers back to prepartum health. In one study, women receiving Chiropractic care through their first pregnancy had 24% shorter labor times than the group not receiving Chiropractic, and multiparous – that is, ladies who have had previous births - subjects reported 39% shorter labor times. Thirty-nine percent-that's a massive difference! In addition, 84% of women report relief of back pain during pregnancy with Chiropractic care. Because the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis function better, there is significant less likelihood of back issues when receiving Chiropractic care through pregnancy.
Yours In Health
Dr. J B Whitlow
The following exercises are simple, effective ways to help maintain healthy spinal mobility and alignment during pregnancy. Remember that breathing is an integral part of all stretching and that regular practice achieves the best results.
STAND WITH HANDS ON WAIST, FEET ABOUT A SHOULDER'S WIDTH APART. BEND FORWARD SLIGHTLY FROM THE WAIST AND ROTATE UPPER BODY SEVERAL TIME S CLOCKWISE-THEN SEVERAL TIMES FROM COUNTER -CLOCKWISE. KEEP HIPS STATIONERY.
SAME STARTING POSITION AS WAIST ROTATION. THIS TIME, KEEP UPPER BODY AS STATIONERY AS POSSIBLE AND ROTATE HIPS SEVERAL TIMES CLOCKWISE-THEN SEVERAL TIMES COUNTER -CLOCKWISE.
SPINAL STRETCH-SIDE TO SIDE:
SAME STARTING POSITION AS WAIST ROTATION AND HIP ROTATION. WITHOUT MOVING THE HIPS BEND AT THE WAIST AS FAR AS YOU CAN COMFORTABLY, FIRST TO THE LEFT, THEN TO THE RIGHT. REPEAT SEVERAL TIMES.
SPINAL STRETCH-FORWARD AND BACK:
PLACE FINGERS AT THE BASE OF THE SPINE-FINGERS OF THE LEFT HAND TO THE LEFT OF THE SPINE, FINGERS OF THE RIGHT HAND TO THE RIGHT OF THE SPINE. BEND FORWARD SLIGHTLY FROM THE WAIST. NOW GENTLY BEND SPINE BACKWARD, PUSHING FORWARD WITH THE FINGERS AS YOU DO SO, AND RAISING HEELS OFF THE GROUND. NOW MOVE YOUR FINGERS A LITTLE AS YOU DO SO, AND RAISING HEELS OFF THE GROUND. NOW, MOVE YOUR FINGERS A LITTLE UP THE SPINE AND REPEAT THE PROCESS SEVERAL TIMES, MOVING UP THE SPINE AS YOU DO. CONTINUE UNTIL YOU'VE GONE AS FAR UP THE SPINE AS YOU CAN.
STAND WITH FEET ABOUT A SHOULDER'S WIDTH APART, ARMS EXTENDED TO THE SIDES. KEEPING THE ARMS EXTENDED, TWIST FROM THE WAIST UP ONLY FIRST TO THE LEFT AND THEN TO THE RIGHT. REPEAT SEVERAL TIMES. BE SURE TO LOOK IN THE DIRECTION IN WHICH YOU ARE TURNING.