As many new mothers can attest, the muscle strains of pregnancy are very real and can be more than just a nuisance. The average weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the baby, may result in severe discomfort. Studies have found that about half of all expectant mothers will develop low-back pain at some point during their pregnancy. This is especially true during late pregnancy, when the baby’s head presses down on a woman’s back, legs, and buttocks, irritating her sciatic nerve. And for those who already suffer from low-back pain, the problem can become even worse.
During pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity almost immediately begins to shift forward to the front of her pelvis. Although a woman’s sacrum-or posterior section of the pelvis-has enough depth to enable her to carry a baby, the displaced weight still increases the stress on her joints. As the baby grows in size, the woman’s weight is projected even farther forward, and the curvature of her lower back is increased, placing extra stress on the spinal disks. In compensation, the normal curvature of the upper spine increases, as well.
While these changes sound dramatic, pregnancy hormones help loosen the ligaments attached to the pelvic bones. But even these natural changes designed to accommodate the growing baby can result in postural imbalances, making pregnant women prone to having awkward trips and falls.
How Can A Chiropractor Help?
Before you become pregnant, your doctor of chiropractic can detect any imbalances in the pelvis or elsewhere in your body that could contribute to pregnancy discomfort or possible neuromusculoskeletal problems after childbirth.
Many pregnant women have found that chiropractic adjustments provide relief from the increased low-back pain brought on by pregnancy. Chiropractic adjustments are safe for the pregnant woman and her baby and can be especially helpful to those who are trying to avoid medications in treating their back pain. Doctors of chiropractic can also offer nutrition, ergonomic, and exercise advice to help a woman enjoy a healthy pregnancy.
Chiropractic care can also help after childbirth. In the eight weeks following labor and delivery, the ligaments that have loosened during pregnancy begin to tighten up again. Ideally, joint problems brought on during pregnancy from improper lifting or reaching should be treated before the ligaments return to their pre-pregnancy state-to prevent muscle tension, headaches, rib discomfort, and shoulder problems.
In short, chiropractic is a healthy and safe alternative for pregnant women who will be experiencing the inevitable aches and pains that accompany having a baby. Between proper nutrition and exercise, chiropractic, and good bio mechanics, this joyful time in your life can be even more enhanced by the feeling of decreased pain and increased well being.
- Östgaard HC, et al. Prevalence of Back Pain in Pregnancy. Spine 1991;16:549-52.
- Berg G, et al. Low back pain during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 1988;71:71-5.
Mantle MJ, et al. Backache in pregnancy. Rheumatology Rehabilitation 1977;16:95-101