So the test strip shows two color bands and you’re finally pregnant! You’re already noticing changes in your body, and you have a mile-long To Do List of books to read, appointments to make, and baby names to consider. If a visit to your Chiropractor is already on that list, you’re off to a great start. Seeing a Chiropractor now is more important than ever, since regular adjustments can not only safely ease the transitions occurring in your body, they can also benefit the overall health of mother and baby. (1)
While working with women who are pregnant or trying to conceive is routine care for most chiropractors, some, like myself, seek additional certification. If you have concerns about receiving chiropractic care while you are expecting, seek out a doctor who’s an ICPA member—and make sure they are certified in the Webster Technique. You can read more about these designations here. Then consider the following five reasons to get to the office without delay.
To make it easier to understand exactly how adjustments can influence a pregnancy, here’s a quick summary of what Chiropractors do. Each time you visit your doctor of Chiropractic, he or she uses small adjustments to relieve subluxations—or areas where spinal segments are putting undue pressure on the spinal cord. Subluxated regions of the spine might be causing pain, but it is just as common for the subluxation to impede nerve function, which causes the organs that receive nerve impulses from that portion of the spine to operate at less than maximum capacity. Even when pain is not a symptom, a host of other maladies can arise from less than optimal function of the organs.
Never is it more important to be at a hundred percent than when your body is providing sanctuary to a new life. The millions of changes that occur in your body chemistry and endocrine levels are all coordinated by the nervous system. Making adjustments to subluxated areas of the spine enables all the organ systems—and most importantly, the reproductive system—to function at 100%. Chiropractic care also helps ensure a healthy immune system for both mom and baby, whose systems are intimately connected during this time.
Ease Pregnancy Symptoms
Using chiropractic care to ensure that the body is functioning at its best helps the mother feel better and stronger during her pregnancy term, and may go so far as to ease the symptoms of morning sickness. It doesn’t work for all women, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be effective for reducing nausea and vomiting. It is believed that adjusting the spine in the areas that correspond to the liver, stomach and pancreas may help relieve the increased burden that being pregnant places on these organs. Of course this also benefits the baby, whose needs are well supported by a mother who is at her healthy best.
During pregnancy your body produces hormones that relax your ligaments, making space for the baby. The hips expand, which helps stabilize you as your body acclimates to a new weight distribution. All this shifting often leads to low back pain, and is the number one reason expectant mothers find themselves in the Chiropractor’s office. Symptoms often worsen late in the term as a result of the baby’s head putting pressure on the mother’s sciatic nerve.
Pregnancy, it turns out, is tough on the body’s skeletal structure. As the muscles, cartilage and ligaments become soft and pliable, pelvic bones may slip and become more easily displaced. Furthermore, as the baby grows, the weight of your expanding belly changes your posture and spinal curvature. Fortunately, chiropractic adjustments can help correct all of these afflictions, while providing pain relief at the same time.
Prevent Breech Birthing
Chiropractic adjustments can help position the baby correctly for birth. A misaligned pelvis can reduce the amount of room available for the developing baby—potentially resulting in a breech birthing position—thereby making a natural, non-invasive birth difficult. Here is where the Webster Technique comes in. The Webster Technique is used not only to prevent breech positions; it has proven effective for converting a breech to optimal orientation for delivery. A doctor of Chiropractic may be using the technique throughout a woman’s pregnancy term without her realizing it, but will undoubtedly begin employing the method right away if it’s discovered that a baby is breech.
Reduce Time Spent in Labor
Proper alignment of the pelvic bones affects more than just the baby’s birthing position. Combined with a healthy flow of nerve system impulses, it can decrease the time you’re in labor and make delivery easier. One study showed a 24% decrease in labor times for women receiving Chiropractic care throughout a first pregnancy, by an average of five hours less than the times reported in obstetric literature. Women in their second and third pregnancies saw a decrease of 39%.(2) This is especially important for moms desiring a drug-free, natural birth. In fact, Chiropractic care is so safe and effective, some mothers even choose to be adjusted during labor, and many continue treatments well beyond childbirth. Stay tuned for next week’s segment on the benefits of taking your newborn to a Certified Pediatric Chiropractor.