Chiropractors help women through all three trimesters of pregnancy with chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy to strengthen the pelvic floor and the muscles in the back to help carry the weight of the baby and prepare the body for natural delivery.
May is Women’s Health Month, so we’d like to talk about pregnancy. What type of chiropractic services are available to pregnant women?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question. There are many different forms of chiropractic care within the chiropractic field, but typically what is available to pregnant moms or expecting moms are the chiropractic adjustments, right? That’s something that is obviously what people are expecting to see and get when they see a chiropractor. Our pregnant moms are receiving chiropractic adjustments. Then we also like to blend in some physical therapy with our moms-to-be, specifically based around diaphragmatic control and activation, good pelvic floor, actually core control and activation, and then what we call some posterior chain activation. This means the back of your body, all the muscles in the back of the body, because if you are planning on having a natural birth with no intervention, you obviously need good back diaphragmatic control to help push the baby into the pelvic inlet.
You also need a strong pelvic floor, to again, help get the baby through the pelvic inlet. And then as you go through gestation, particularly in that third trimester, everything gets quite heavy in the front of you. You’d know far better than I would, Liz, but there’s a lot of weight in the front of the body that pulls you forward. You really want to work on the back of the body, the posterior to counteract that force. Chiropractic adjustments with some physical therapies, specifically around those key pieces are what the expecting mom typically gets when coming in to see us at the clinic here.
Back pain is very common in pregnancy, so how does chiropractic care help alleviate back pain?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Back pain is common for everybody. It’s the number one cause of missed time from work and the biggest expense for corporate America. And then, you supplement that with carrying a baby and adding anywhere from 30 plus pounds to your body. Again, that’s going to pull you forwards in flexion. When you’re forwards in flexion, it lengthens the muscles in the back of your body, it increases pressure on the discs, and then just as you are growing the baby and you’re just getting heavier due to the baby getting bigger, it really loads the joints.
Chiropractic care is great at finding subluxations, subluxations are joints that become fixed, and/or out of alignment. When that occurs, it increases the stress and tension within that joint, the muscles that cross the joint and/or the nerve, which can obviously create pain and dysfunction. So, chiropractic care can specifically find the joints that have shifted, and/or aren’t moving and then non-invasively remove those subluxations. If a joint’s moving with stability and it’s where it should be, then there’s no reason why we should be having any lower back pain.
Besides back pain, what is the biggest complaint you hear from pregnant women, and how can chiropractic care help?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Typically, for us, if it’s just talking about pain specifically, pain typically manifests in the upper back, and in the lower back, and chiropractic care can absolutely help with the upper back pain and the lower back pain. But remember, chiropractic care is far more than just pain, it’s all about function. There’s loads of good research out there.
Pregnant moms who are under chiropractic care regularly throughout gestation, compared to moms that aren’t, have better outcomes, they have shorter labor times, and less chance of intervention. Babies do better when going through the natural birth, which typically happens on the back of chiropractic care. So, you’re not just seeing a chiropractor because you’re in pain. That’s typically why they come in, but we educate the patients on good joint function, good alignment, how that’s going to improve our birthing outcomes, and then post gestation or post birth how chiropractic care can assist moms getting back to where they were pre-pregnancy.
Is chiropractic care safe during all three trimesters of pregnancy?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. Tri one, typically, we don’t modify how we adjust our pregnant moms, in regard to if they were seen before they were pregnant. Tri two, you have to modify a little bit. Change the fact that in tri two we typically start to show, so we’re using our pregnancy pillow, and then we might modify how we adjust just based on what we’re seeing on the table. Then, in the third trimester, again, similarly, you just have to factor in how far they are down the road.
There are different ways to adjust the spine, pelvis, sacrum, low back, upper to mid-back, and neck. There are many different ways you can do it, and the patient and their case dictate the type of adjustment they get.
So, again, not every pregnant mom is getting a manual adjustment. Some pregnant moms prefer an instrument adjustment or what we call a drop table adjustment. Some moms absolutely get manually adjusted all the way through. Actually, we should have had a patient come in on Monday, but she missed her appointment, so I’m assuming she had her little baby. So yeah, we got her manually adjusted the entire way through gestation.
Could you explain how prenatal chiropractic care helps prepare the body for a smoother delivery?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. I think we touched on that, right? Obviously good spine alignment and good joint function is paramount for how we feel and function, period. And then we add being pregnant into the equation and as we go through gestation, as we discussed, the body is under more stress, in regard to physical stress, due to the added weight from carrying and growing a baby. Then the progesterone, which is one of the hormones that creates laxity in the ligaments, loosens up the ligaments so we can actually physically birth the baby. So, this obviously allows for more shifts. The earlier under chiropractic care, the more effective it can be, simply because once we start shifting in and out of alignment and we start creating big shifts, the further down the road we are with gestation, the tougher it is to treat. We always say get into the office and get going with care sooner rather than later.
But, to your point, a smoother delivery, yeah. There’s loads of good research out there. If you jumped on InternationalPediatricChiropracticAssociation.org, there’s a ton of good case studies and peer reviewed articles on moms who are under regular chiropractic care and have typically a 40% decrease in labor time. They have a decreased chance of intervention, and then the babies typically do better on all their outcomes post chiropractic care. Obviously, if your pelvis is in alignment, your sacrum’s in alignment, that’s going to allow for an easier transition into the pelvic inlet. If you’re doing the physical therapy before we go to birth, diaphragmatic control, pelvic floor control, then you’re just going to have an easier birth overall.
But, obviously, there are outliers. My wife’s a chiropractor, she was adjusted three times a week for her entire pregnancy. She did awesome throughout the pregnancy, felt good, functioned good, and then my eldest son decided he wanted to take three days to arrive, so that was pretty stressful, but you can’t account for that. However, our second son, George, he decided he wanted to get right out and it was about a six-hour labor front to back. So, it’s case specific. My wife did everything right, in regard to getting the chiropractors care on the front end, it was just a really difficult physical birth. On the second one, it was far easier, and that’s typically what we see within our moms that are in the chiropractor’s care, as we go through that whole gestational journey.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit www.southloopchiropractor.com or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.