Many people are asking the question why pregnancy and chiropractic? Today, more and more often you will hear that pregnant women are seeing chiropractors. On the surface, it makes sense. Pregnant women, particularly late in their pregnancy, have a pretty large belly which may cause low back pain. However, more and more pregnant women these days are seeking out chiropractic care for more than just low back pain. Not only have we seen more of this in our own office, but the research is supporting the many benefits that chiropractic care offers.
Optimal Pelvic Alignment
Pelvic alignment is essential to having a happy and healthy pregnancy and delivery. The pelvis is the bony structure that supports the reproductive organs and uterus that holds the baby, and forms the canal for the baby to pass through during delivery. As an expecting mother progresses through the stages of pregnancy, many physiological miracles are happening. The hormone Relaxin is released primarily during the first trimester in order to help the woman’s ligaments and tendons lengthen and accommodate the pregnancy. It is also released heavily during delivery to help facilitate the widening of the cervix during delivery. As Relaxin is released and these ligaments and tendons lengthen, it is important to keep the pelvis in proper alignment. This will not only allow for less low back aches and pains during pregnancy, but will also set mom up for optimal positioning during delivery!
A lesser known reason for pregnancy and chiropractic care is stress hormone regulation. Cortisol is a hormone that is well-known to be related to chronic stress. We all experience stress in our lives, but the added stress of worrying about pregnancy has shown to increase cortisol levels in pregnant women by 27% according to one study. Research is now showing us the impact that prenatal stress has on the health and outcomes of delivery and a child’s health. In other words, studies are now showing that the stress hormones that circulate in a pregnant mother’s blood stream also circulate in the developing baby’s blood stream and can sensitize the baby to the stress response. This tells us how important it is to manage stress during pregnancy. The chiropractic adjustment’s primary focus is to release interference in our nervous system, allowing our autonomic nervous system to balance and return to a state of homeostasis. Our nervous system is responsible for detecting and perceiving stress in our environment. So when we are in a state of fight-or-flight mode, stress hormones (including cortisol) are released. The chiropractic adjustment helps us come out of fight-or-flight mode which helps lower cortisol levels.
Prepare for Postpartum Recovery
Not only are there benefits with pregnancy and chiropractic, but also in postpartum recovery for mama. Both Dr. Ryan and myself are certified in Webster Technique, a technique developed by Dr. Larry Webster to be used on pregnant women throughout pregnancy to in preparation for a safer, easier birth. In other words, it is a technique utilized to reduce nerve system stress, balance pelvic muscles and ligaments and optimizes the mother’s pelvic function in pregnancy and birth. We have found that it is so important for mom to get adjusted during her pregnancy to ensure not only a healthy birth, but an optimal postpartum recovery. In our opinion, there is a large gap of care for mother’s once they have given birth. A lot of attention is given to the baby’s health (rightfully so!) but oftentimes, the mother doesn’t have the support she needs during her recovery. Adjustments facilitate an optimal recovery so that she can return to being the awesome, strong mother that she is!
Reduced Labor Difficulty
Labor dystocia, or abnormal progression of labor or childbirth, is a complex phenomena that can be can be caused by a number of things physiologically. The difficult labor could be due to the positioning of the baby, difficult contractions, pelvic/sacral misalignments, etc. Labor dystocia, or the failure of labor to progress, is the reason for 50% of cesarean interventions in nulliparous women according to one study. According to Williams Obstetrics, Dystocia comes down to three categories:
- Power – insufficient coordination and strength of the pelvic floor’s contractions
- Passage – abnormalities or misalignments of the pelvis and sacrum
- Passenger – breech or malposition of the baby during labor
Chiropractic adjustments address interference in the nervous system. By removing this interference, we enhance muscle firing patterns and strength by increasing cortical drive in the brain. Chiropractic adjustments are well known to correct misalignments and improve function of the musculoskeletal system, which can correct or improve the misalignments of the bony pelvis. When this interference is removed, optimal function is restored in the mother’s body, which many times has an effect on the positioning of the baby in the womb!
Optimal Health and Wellness
Many people, not just pregnant women, seek chiropractic care first as a part of their healthy lifestyle to ensure that they are living their ideal 100 Year Lifestyle. Life is better when your body is performing the way it is supposed to. This function is determined by the health and performance of our nervous system. Chiropractic care removes interference and improves the function of our nervous system, allowing our bodies to return to a state of health and balance.
These are a few of the many important reasons that pregnancy and chiropractic go together. Pregnancy is an amazing journey for a woman to experience. There are many ways to support a woman through her journey so that she has a safe and wonderful pregnancy. Regular chiropractic care is one of those ways to naturally support the woman’s innate ability to conceive, carry, labor and deliver a newborn.