The body goes through dramatic changes during pregnancy. The mother’s center of gravity is shifting as the body makes room for a growing baby in the womb. It is no surprise that many women experience some form of back pain during their pregnancy. Prenatal chiropractic care can be an effective — and important — treatment for any expectant mother to reduce aches and pains during and after pregnancy.

How can chiropractic help?

Many women don’t know that chiropractic care can significantly decrease pain and discomfort associated with pregnancy.  The best thing to do is to see a chiropractor throughout your pregnancy to keep your pelvis and lower back moving properly and to reduce the chance of lower back pain or sciatica.  Chiropractors are trained to assess the joints of the spine and pelvis and locate the areas that are not moving well and to correct the loss of movement.  To make the process as comfortable as possible, we use a special pillow or table that allows the patient to lay on their stomach without any pressure or injury to the baby.  Special techniques used by chiropractors can also help open up the pelvis and allow for easier delivery and can even be used to help turn a breech baby.

How many pregnant women experience lower back pain?

When it comes to back pain and pregnancy, a study from the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found that 50 percent of all pregnant women experience pain throughout pregnancy, but only about 21 percent ever seek consolation for the pain. Out of the woman that actually see a chiropractor for pregnancy associated lower back pain or sciatica, 72 percent were likely to see relief of their symptoms. Pregnancy and chiropractic go hand in hand.

Why do pregnant women experience lower back pain?

Sciatica and lower back pain are the most common issues that women experience during pregnancy. These problems arise due to the change in posture and a shift in the center of gravity.  As the fetus develops, more and more weight is added to the front of the body, causing the center of gravity to move towards the front of the pelvis.  This change causes the pelvic bones to rotate forward and the curvature of the lower back increases to compensate.  This increased curve places a lot of pressure on the vertebral discs, joints, ligaments, and nerves, which can then lead to low back pain and sciatica.  The rest of the spine also compensates for the changes occurring.  The upper back becomes rounded and the neck protrudes a little further forward.  Along with all of the postural changes, certain hormones cause the ligaments in the body to become relaxed.  Sometimes these hormones work a little too well, allowing bones to shift into uncomfortable positions.  With all of the structural changes occurring, muscles that support the spine and pelvis have to work harder to support the body.  This leads to muscle soreness, spasms, and cramping.

What type of education do chiropractors receive in reference to pregnancy?

Chiropractors are well educated in embryology, obstetrics, and pediatrics. These courses take and in-depth look at everything involved with embryo development, the progression of pregnancy, normal physiology and abnormal physiology, and disorders of both the pregnant patient and pediatric patient.  Special adjusting techniques for pediatrics and pregnancy are also taught to all students.  This includes the use of Webster’s technique, which allows the pelvis to move properly and to reduce tension on the round ligament.  This technique opens the pelvis and reduces restriction of fetal movement.  The technique is very useful when treating patients that have a baby in the breech position.  An article published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics states that the Webster Technique has an 82 percent success rate of turning a breech baby.

What else can help?

In addition to chiropractic care,  prenatal massage and prenatal yoga are also beneficial.  The prenatal massage is an opportunity to relax and loosen all of the muscles that are working overtime to support the added weight and structural changes.   Massage also increases blood and lymphatic flow to the muscles and tissue, which increases oxygen and removes toxins.  Prenatal yoga also has its advantages, such as teaching mothers-to-be how to breathe deeply and to relax.  These are two things that can come in very handy during labor and birth.  Yoga can also improve pregnancy related discomforts.