Pre-Natal Specialty

Oh Baby! Chiropractic May Help Ease Pregnancy, Postpartum Pains

During pregnancy a woman's body goes through physiological and hormonal changes that impact both the mother and the unborn child. It's a transition that requires time for the body to adapt in preparation for birth.

More and more expectant mothers are seeking out chiropractic care to help them with pain, alignment issues and other physical developments that present as a result of this body metamorphosis over the course of pregnancy.

"The body naturally changes a woman's posture to counterbalance the pull of the baby and belly forward during pregnancy. This, in turn, increases the gravitational pull on and overuse of many spinal and soft tissue components," explained Dr. Donna Hedgepeth, a chiropractor at Keystone Chiropractic in Raleigh. "Many common complaints women experience due to this can be greatly helped by working with the body's alignment and ability to withstand these quick postural changes."

During pregnancy, women may experience discomfort or catching at the pubic symphysis area (or inner thigh), especially when rolling over in bed, putting on pants or taking the stairs. Sciatic pain and lower back pain are common issues as well, along with mid/upper back pains, rib cage discomforts and numbness.

Chiropractic care can be an integral part of a woman's prenatal and postpartum care as a natural and gentle way to restore postural balance and also decrease associated discomforts

At 30 weeks pregnant, Dr. Jennifer Slechter, a chiropractor at WNC Chiropractic in Asheville, said she couldn't imagine being pregnant without seeing a chiropractor.

"Back pain is one of the most common side effects of pregnancy. You have the massive weight gain all in a small area over a quick period of time," Slechter said. "Ligaments are more relaxed as they're preparing to let your pelvis open to have the baby. But when you combine that with the lifestyle that most moms lead now, which is in more sedentary jobs, it really causes a lot of low back issues."

Aside from going to the chiropractor for aches and pains, moms-to-be seek care for preventative purposes as well so that they can stay as active as possible during pregnancy.

Chiropractic can also be effective for improved labor and delivery, and help establish balance in the mother's pelvis, which can have a direct effect on the size and shape of the pelvic outlet and ligamentous connections. This area is crucial for the passage of the baby.

"Moms who see chiropractors tend to have not just more comfortable pregnancies, but [sometimes] faster deliveries and tend to have babies that are in better positions because their bodies are able to move and adapt to the changes that are happening every day," Slechter explained.

Chiropractic manipulation for pregnant mothers is catered to their bodies and health. Special tables that open up and allow mothers to lay on their stomachs make the process comfortable, and various accommodations on the mother's behalf can be made.

"The technology that we have as chiropractors with our instruments and our table adjustments for pregnancy are way more gentle, especially toward the end of pregnancy [compared to a] more hands-on technique," Slechter said.

She pointed out most prenatal care is focused on the baby, while pregnancy chiropractic is an opportunity to focus on the mother.

"Chiropractic care can be an integral part of a woman's prenatal and postpartum care as a natural and gentle way to restore postural balance and also decrease associated discomforts," Hedgepeth added.

Whenever the musculoskeletal system is stressed or unbalanced, it creates friction in the nerves and muscles, which can present in various ways.

Low-back pain, while an obvious physical manifestation, is not the only thing that mothers may experience. Headaches and nausea are not uncommon in pregnant women with musculoskeletal stress.

In regard to babies and children, kids may struggle with colic, hip dysplasia, bed-wetting and a host of other symptoms that are presentations of musculoskeletal misalignment.

After the baby is born, mothers can continue to reap the benefits of chiropractic post birth.

Pediatric chiropractic is also an option. Birth is often one of the most physically traumatic experiences for both the mother and baby, and a lot of force is placed on the musculoskeletal systems of both the parent and child.

Slechter advised that a baby get checked by a chiropractor within the first week of life to make sure that nothing was damaged during the birth process.

"Most people get that our brain is where all the information comes from," said Slechter, noting that the spine is connected to the brain. "If there is misalignment in the spine, it can cause a mismatch in the communication system. Anytime that the brain is not able to fully connect to an organ, muscle or joint, then you get reduced function."

She compared it to a misaligned vehicle, where the problem is the misalignment itself, but the presentation is in the worn tires.

"Chiropractic is a great approach to many issues facing children from infancy and throughout their developmental stages of growth to young adulthood. Although those issues change greatly depending on the child's age," Hedgepeth added. "Chiropractic care is a natural way to restore biomechanical and nerve function to the body, therefore providing improved motion and health. Chiropractic care for this demographic requires a different approach and technique, utilizing gentle work to these smaller bodies."

Chiropractic for babies and children is gentle and minimally intrusive, as it is for pregnant mothers.

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