Receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy benefits the pregnant mother in many ways. Chiropractors use gentle techniques to keep the spine and pelvis in alignment to decrease stress and tension on the nerves to alleviate pain, specifically in the lower back.
What type of chiropractic services are available to pregnant women?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question, Liz. And essentially the short answer is all of them. There’s a little bit of stigma when it comes to women in gestation, in terms of they’re really limited in how they can function and take care of themselves. We don’t modify chiropractic care too much until the third trimester and those modifications are going to come, obviously, as mom grows the baby, and obviously the belly gets really big. So, she’s going to struggle to lay on her front and there’s other things that we can do to accommodate that.
But essentially chiropractic care is available to pregnant women. And as we’re going to find out in this podcast, there are many ways we can modify the chiropractic type of care they receive. Chiropractic care for pregnant moms or moms going through gestation is massively beneficial, both to the mom, and the baby.
How does chiropractic care help alleviate back pain?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question. So obviously as moms go through gestation, they’re growing a baby, essentially. And by growing a baby, everything’s going to be pulling them forward, right? So, the baby sits in the stomach and then obviously the breast tissue grows. What happens is as you get pulled forward it’s going to really pull that upper back forwards and it’s going to really pull your lower back forward. So that creates a lot of stress and tension in the spine, particularly the muscles in the back of the spine obviously really fighting to keep you upright in alignment. So, what happens is joints that should be aligned and moving well, due to this weight transfer, start to shift out of alignment. So, when a joint shifts out of alignment, it creates stress and tension on the joint, the tissue, and the nerve.
And obviously that stress and tension is going to create discomfort. So essentially chiropractic care is going to focus on those joints that have shifted, and they’re going to focus on removing those subluxations. So essentially getting the joint moving again. So, when a joint that’s moving well and it’s not creating stress and tension on, again, that joint tissue nerve, that’s how we’re going to essentially alleviate pain.
Now, the caveat to all this is, if you’re a expecting mom or you’re going through gestation, you want to get on top of this early, because if your joints are in alignment and they’re moving well before they shift and they don’t move well, that’s obviously going to create a way easier job for the chiropractor to help. Once those joints have shifted and there’s a lot of stress and tension on the nervous system, it’s really quite difficult to totally get the mom out of pain. So, I’d just say being proactive with chiropractic care, particularly when you’re going through gestation, is a real big help.
Besides back pain, what is the biggest complaint you hear from pregnant women and how can chiropractic care help?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question. So obviously general pain within the spine and the soft tissues specifically in the upper back and the lower back are really the main complaints for the reasons we just discussed. But a real common complaint that we get a lot of with our pregnant moms is that sciatica pain, the pain that refers to your glutes, down the back of your leg, and can go all the way into your feet and your toes. And unfortunately, it’s quite miserable. As your spine shifts out of alignment due to growing the baby and your pelvis starts to accommodate the baby, then that shifting and that misalignment can create stress and tension onto those nerves in your lower back. Those are the nerves that innervate obviously your lower back, but also your extremities. So as your pelvis starts to shift, your sacrum starts to shift, and your low back starts to shift and you create a stress and tension onto those nerves in your lower back, they can start referring pain into your legs.
Alignment in the pelvis and the sacrum specifically is going to really help with that pain. Typically, that referral leg pain, that sciatica pain, is really, really common with expecting moms.
Can prenatal chiropractic care help prepare the fetus and the woman’s body for childbirth?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely right. There’s loads of research out there supporting chiropractic care as the mom goes through gestation. And the biggest one that really sticks out for us is the alignment of the pelvis and the sacrum. Obviously as the baby passes through the birthing canal, how the sacrum is lined up is critically important for an easy passage as is the pelvis. So, if your pelvis and your sacrum are out of alignment, it’s going to create more of a kind of arduous, difficult birth than someone who’s got great pelvic and sacral alignment. Also, there’s different types of techniques that we can use. Specifically, the Webster Technique is focused on sacral alignment and the tension within what we call the round ligament, which is a ligament right in the front of the abdomen. When that gets really tight, it prevents the baby from spinning.
We have a lot of pregnant moms come in the office that have breached babies, and we take them through the Webster Technique protocol. All our doctors in the clinic here are all trained and it can actually help spin the baby and get the baby head down ready for an easier birth. A great website you should all visit if you’re listening to this and you’re an expectant mom is the ICPA National Chiropractic Pediatric Association. We’ve got a bunch of research studies on there that are going through women that are under chiropractic care compared to women who aren’t under chiropractic and how on average, their births are shorter and they’re easier, and just all the benefits that comes with that.
What are the benefits of continuing chiropractic care post-delivery?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question. And that’s a really important one because obviously your body goes through a massive amount of change as you grow the baby. Progesterone is released, the ligaments get really loose. It’s obviously accommodating the birthing of the baby. Specifically, that pelvic floor doesn’t necessarily get damaged, but obviously it works massively hard through the birthing process. So, when you get done with having the baby, all those muscles, all those ligaments, and all those muscle groups that have changed due to the birthing aspect just don’t do the job as well as they did before.
So it’s critically important after birth to make sure that your pelvis is in alignment because you move through your pelvis. Make sure your lower back’s in alignment, because if you’ve got shifts in your pelvis and your lower back it’s going to create, obviously, those subluxations that we discussed, where you create stress and tension onto the nerves in your lower back, and that can create lower back pain. Specifically, the muscles, particularly in your pelvic floor, become really weak. And your pelvic floor core essentially stabilizes your pelvis, and you need good pelvic core stability to create stability in your hips and your lower back.
The majority of our pregnant moms come in post-delivery. They’re in all sorts of pain, pelvic pain, low back pain. It’s important to follow the birth of the baby with both chiropractic care and physical therapy to focus on, again, good joint alignment, but most importantly good balance strength in all those muscle groups. Because as the baby grows and you need to become more functional, you need a spine that’s in alignment and obviously muscles that are really active, both in the pelvic floor and what we call the posterior, the glutes, and the hamstrings to keep the load out the lower back. Otherwise the lower back shifts, we start to work in our lower back, and over time that just breaks us down.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit www.southloopchiropractor.com or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.