This is supposed to be a wonderful experience, however, many of you are wondering when that “glowing” feature kicks in and instead are dealing with back pain, pelvic pain, leg pain and more.
During pregnancy, a hormone known as relaxin causes the ligaments throughout the mother’s body to become more relaxed in order to allow for the pelvis to shift accommodating the growing baby’s size as well as aiding in cervical softening.1 As your body grows, the shifting in pelvic structures can lead to an imbalance in the musculoskeletal system, specifically the sacroiliac joints, which in turn often leads to discomfort.2 When the pelvis misaligns during pregnancy, it reduces the amount of room for the developing baby. When this occurs the baby may seek a less than optimal position (i.e. breech or transverse) within the uterus. This “structural adaptation in the [pregnant] patient is a contributory source of low back pain throughout [pregnancy]”. 4 Many other sources indicate this ligament laxity as the cause of neck pain, hip pain, leg pain, or trouble sleeping while pregnant. In many of these situations your MD may suggest medication or physical therapy. While there is benefit to these, many mothers will find greater relief in chiropractic care. 4 The role of a chiropractor during pregnancy can dramatically influence these discomforts by establishing pelvic balance and alignment through a series of safe adjustments, exercises and stretches. 7 While the obvious benefit of chiropractic care is pain relief, it is not the only advantage. One retrospective study 5 has found that of first time pregnancies, there was on average a 25% shorter labor time, while women who had had more than one pregnancy and delivery experienced an average of 31% shorter labor time. These examples are a small sample of the symptoms pregnancy evokes as well as the benefits chiropractic can provide. Always note that while it is typically very safe to adjust a pregnant woman, your doctor should know when not to adjust and when to refer you out to another specialist. 6
As a chiropractor and one who really enjoys working with children and pregnant women, I encourage you to seek care at some point in your pregnancy, regardless whether you hear about this at the beginning of your gestation or two weeks before your due date. I’ve had the opportunity to work with women suffering from the typical aches and pains as well as babies in breech. It has been and continues to be a very rewarding part of my job.
1. The role of hormone relaxin in human reproduction and pelvic-girdle relaxation. MacLennon. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2011710
2. Sacroiliac subluxation: a common treatable cause of low back pain in pregnancy. Daly, Frame, Rapoza. Fam Prac Res J 1991;11(2):149-159
3. Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, a medium term and 1 year follow up. Peterson, Muhlemann, Humphreys. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24690125
4. Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. Borggren. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647084/
5. J.M. Fallon. Textbook on chiropractic & pregnancy. Arlington, VA: International Chiropractic Association; 1994: 52, 109.
6. Shaw G. When to adjust: chiropractic and pregnancy. J Am Chiropr Assoc. 2003;40(11):8–16.
7. Rosenburg. http://icpa4kids.org/Wellness-Articles/an-expectant-parents-guide-to-chiropractic.html