Chiropractic benefits during pregnancy

iStock_000019548779Small.jpgPregnancy should be one of the happiest times in an expectant mother’s life. Unfortunately, increased stress placed on the mother’s spine as the baby develops means pregnancy is often dominated by pain and discomfort. It has been reported that up to seventy-six percent of pregnant women will experience some degree of back pain. This is usually in the lower back (lumbar) region, but the mid back (thoracic) region can also be affected as the breasts increase in size. Much of this pain is due to a necessary change in posture. As the mother’s abdomen increases in size and weight, she compensates by arching, or leaning backwards, to avoid falling over. This change in the change of gravity puts increased pressure on the pelvis and lumbar region, causing pain.

This produces an unfortunate dilemma for the mother. Does she use analgesic (painkiller) medication to remain comfortable, exposing the baby to medication that is possibly harmful? Or does she remain incapacitated for the duration of the pregnancy, risking a longer recovery period after the baby’s birth?

An added factor is that, as the pregnancy progresses, there is slow release of a hormone into the mother’s blood stream. The job of this hormone is to allow the pelvic ligaments to soften and stretch, allowing the birth canal to be as wide as possible during the birthing process. However this hormone is not specific and affects every ligament within the body, making it easier for subluxations (misalignments) to occur.

In 1991 an American study found that eighty-four percent of women who had spinal manipulation during the course of their pregnancy received pain relief. The human body adapts extremely well for survival but not always for optimal function. The study showed that adjusting pelvic and spinal segments that were under increased stress from the added weight of pregnancy, was safer and more effective means of treating the mother without risk to the baby, right up until the day of delivery.

A study comparing mothers who received chiropractic care with those who didn’t, found that in the chiropractic group, first time mothers averaged twenty-four percent shorter labour times. For mothers having their second or more child, labour times were thirty-nine percent shorter, on average, than in the non-chiropractic group.

Actual birthing position adopted by the mother also has a huge impact on the length of labour and method of birth used to deliver the baby. The popular semi-recumbent (laying on your back) position does not allow any movement from the pelvis, which is needed during delivery to maximize the width of the birth canal. An added detriment is that the mother now has to push against gravity. Squatting or standing utilizes gravity and has been linked with quicker labour times and fewer forceps deliveries, which explains its increased popularity in recent years for both home and hospital births.

Pregnancy is period of rapid change in a mother’s life. Chiropractic care can help her accommodate to those changes, maximizing enjoyment and comfort for both her and the baby.

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