During pregnancy, a woman’s centre of gravity shifts forward to the front of her pelvis. This additional weight in front causes stress to the joints of the pelvis and the low back. As the baby grows in size, the added weight causes the curvature of her lower back to increase, placing extra stress on the fragile facet joints on the backside of the spine. Any pre-existing problems in a woman’s spine tend to be exacerbated as the spine and pelvis become overtaxed, often leading to pain and difficulty performing normal daily activities.
Studies have found that about half of all expectant mothers develop low-back pain at some point during their pregnancies. This is especially true during the third trimester when the baby’s body gains the most weight.
Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy can relieve and even prevent the pain and discomfort frequently experienced in pregnancy, and creates an environment for an easier, safer delivery. It is one safe and effective way to help the spine and pelvis cope with the rapid increase in physical stress by restoring a state of balance.
In fact, most women have found that chiropractic care helped them avoid the use of pain medications during their pregnancy, and studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments help to reduce time in labour.
Your Doctor of Chiropractic should be your partner for a healthy pregnancy. They can provide adjustments, as well as offer nutritional, ergonomic and exercise advice to help address your special needs.
CHIROPRACTIC TIPS FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
- Be sure to get adjusted regularly. Chiropractic care is important to help maintain a healthy skeletal structure and nervous system function throughout a pregnancy and childbirth.
- Do some gentle exercise each day. Walking, swimming or stationary cycling are relatively safe cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women. Avoid any activities that involve jerking or bouncing movements. Stop exercise immediately if you notice any unusual symptom, such as nausea, dizziness or weakness.
- Wear flat shoes with arch supports. Your feet become more susceptible to injury during pregnancy, partially due to a rapidly increasing body weight, but also because the ligaments that support the feet become more lax.
- When picking up children, bend from the knees, not the waist. Your low back is much more prone to injury during pregnancy.
- When sleeping, lay on your side with a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Full-length “body pillows” or ”pregnancy wedges” are very popular and can be very helpful.
- Eat several small meals or snacks every few hours, rather than three large meals per day. This will help alleviate nausea, stabilize blood sugar and allow your body to extract the maximum amount of nutrients from the foods that you eat.
- Take a prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day; 800 micrograms is even better. Folic acid has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of neural tube defects in a developing foetus. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any vitamin or herbal supplement to make sure it’s safe for you and the baby.
THE WEBSTER TECHNIQUE
The Webster protocol is a specific chiropractic sacral analysis and diversified adjustment. The goal of the adjustment is to reduce the effect of sacral subluxation/SI joint dysfunction. In so doing neuro-biomechanical function in the pelvis is facilitated.
Dr Larry Webster, founder of the International Chiropractic Paediatric Association (ICPA) discovered this adjustment as a safe means to restore proper pelvic balance and function. This specific sacral analysis can be used on all weight bearing individuals to determine S/I joint dysfunction/ sacral subluxation and is therefore applicable for the entire population. The assessment includes heel flexion to buttocks, with restricted flexion indicating the affected SI joint. Correction is made with a diversified, sacral adjustment. It is used on all weight bearing individuals presenting with this biomechanical restriction. Common symptoms include (but are not limited to) low back pain, sciatic neuralgia, and symptoms associated with S/I joint dysfunction.
In regards to pregnant mothers, Dr Webster reported that when a mother sought care and her baby was in a breech position, the restoration of pelvic neuro-biomechanics with this adjustment also frequently facilitated optimal fetal positioning. There are cases published in the chiropractic literature that support his theory. More research is needed and is currently underway by the ICPA.
In this clinical and theoretical framework, it is proposed that sacral misalignment may cause the tightening and torsion of specific pelvic muscles and ligaments. It is these tense muscles and ligaments and their aberrant effect on the uterus which may prevent the baby from comfortably assuming the best possible position for birth. Additionally, because of the effect the chiropractic adjustment has on all body functions by reducing nerve system stress, pregnant mothers may have significant benefit by having their spines checked regularly throughout pregnancy, optimising health benefits for both the mother and baby.