Chiropractic during pregnancy is an important part of prenatal care. Unfortunately, not enough women know of the benefits of chiropractic care both for themselves and their unborn baby. A woman’s body undergoes an amazing amount of changes during pregnancy. As her baby grows her musculoskeletal system must adjust accordingly to accommodate the growing uterus and prepare for delivery. Chiropractic care helps her body to stay aligned as these changes occur and also helps to keep the nervous system functioning at its optimal level.
Many pregnant women experience low back pain, hip pain, and pubic symphysis. These discomforts are the result of the stresses put on the body by the rapid growth of the baby and the changes the body must undergo to accommodate those adjustments. As her belly gets bigger, the woman’s center of gravity changes. The growth is so quick that it is often difficult for the low back and pelvis to adjust to this change. This causes stress in those areas, resulting in misalignments, (or subluxations as they are called by chiropractors) which then causes pain and dysfunction. If a woman’s low back and pelvis was out of alignment before her pregnancy it is even harder for her back and pelvis to adjust. When the pelvis is subluxated (misaligned) it affects the uterus and the position of the growing baby.
The uterus is connected to the pelvis by ligaments: the broad ligament, the uterosacral ligaments, and the round ligaments. Like a hot air balloon tethered to the ground, these ligaments work to keep the uterus in the proper place in the pelvis and allow support as the uterus grows to accommodate the growing baby. If the pelvis is subluxated, these ligaments can become torqued. When the ligaments are affected, they directly affect the position of the uterus which can result in the baby not being in an optimal position. This type of situation may result in a breech baby or a transverse (sideways) baby.
The goal of the chiropractor is to correct the subluxations in the pelvis to help balance the uterus and allow the baby to get into a better position. Chiropractic adjustments for a pregnant woman are specific, gentle, and safe. Some chiropractors are certified in the Webster Technique which is a technique that is used to relieve intrauterine constraint caused by imbalance in the pelvis and the pelvic ligaments. Webster certified chiropractors adjust the pelvis and also feel for and relieve tension in the round ligaments.
Besides increasing a pregnant woman’s comfort level, an aligned pelvis can result in a quicker, safer, and easier birth. When a baby is in breech or transverse position a cesarean section is almost always performed. Because they are so common many people forget that a c-section is a major abdominal surgery and can be risky. Helping the baby to get into a proper head-down position by balancing the pelvis and ligaments helps to avoid c-sections due to baby positioning. Other variations in baby position such as a tilted head or a “sunny side up” baby (face up during delivery) can also be caused by pelvic imbalance and may result in a more difficult, painful, and longer labor and delivery.