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More and more women are discovering the many benefits associated with chiropractic care in pregnancy. The most common complaint where women seek chiropractic care in pregnancy is for low back pain. As more women utilize chiropractic care they are noticing additional benefits to chiropractic care in pregnancy.
You might have noticed that chiropractic care is becoming an important part of birth preparation for many pregnant women these days. These women are realizing the benefits of regular chiropractic adjustments as they prepare for safer, easier birthing for both themselves and their babies. Chiropractors have actually cared for pregnant women for many years. Recently, however, with the increased interest in natural birthing, and in an effort to avoid having a C-section, a growing number of mothers have incorporated chiropractic into their prenatal care. To understand how chiropractic care can contribute to a better birth, it is important to look at the mother’s neuro-biomechanics throughout pregnancy.
As a mother’s weight increases, her center of gravity shifts outward and her postural compensations respond accordingly. In addition, the ligament laxity necessary for birthing adds to instability in all of her joints, including her spine and pelvis.
Changes During Pregnancy
These hormonal and structural changes can lead to spinal and pelvic misalignment and the consequent lower back pain many women experience during pregnancy. Lower back pain, in and of itself, is a burden to a woman’s daily function and quality of life. However, the misalignment of the spine and pelvis have a far more crucial consequence. In chiropractic, these misalignments are called subluxations. These insidious blockages cause stress overload to the mother’s nervous system, potentially impairing any of her vital systems and organs. During pregnancy, when a mother’s body systems are basically functioning for two, any interference to the nerve transmission supporting their function can be detrimental to her health and well-being. Reducing this nerve system stress is a key ingredient for normal bodily function.
To further understand the impact of spinal and pelvic misalignment throughout pregnancy, it is important to look at the mother’s anatomy. The mother’s pelvis has various key ligaments attached that support her uterus. As the baby grows, their role becomes increasingly important. If her pelvis is in biomechanical balance during pregnancy, the uterus will be supported symmetrically. This allows greater comfort for the mother and potentially optimal room for the baby's development.
Gross misalignment in the woman's pelvis may contribute to conditions like torticollis in the baby, with excessive stress to the baby’s developing neuro-muscular system. This is turn may impair his developing nervous system and adversely affect virtually any of his body’s systems and functions. Additionally, it is hypothesized that pelvic misalignments in the mother may affect optimal fetal positioning at the time of birth. The optimal position for birth is anterior vertex (rear-facing, head down). When a baby presents breech or posterior, it may be the result of an imbalance in the mother’s pelvis, forcing the baby to assume a compromised position. Baby malposition will result in a lengthier, less comfortable and more complicated birth. If mother’s biomechanics are compromised, obstetric interventions are more likely to be recommended and implemented. Each and every intervention has significant side effects for both mother and baby.
All obstetrical interventions increase the risk of subsequent and more serious procedures. For example, with any intervention (e.g. Pitocin, epidural anaesthesia, etc.), the risk of mechanical delivery (the use of forceps and vacuum extraction) and surgical delivery (C-section) multiplies substantially. These unnatural modes of delivery are risky and traumatic to both mother and baby. Proper prenatal chiropractic care, however, is a valuable tool to decrease the reliance on these invasive delivery procedures.