A woman’s center of gravity shifts forward to the front of her pelvis during pregnancy. This extra upfront weight causes stress on the joints of the pelvis and low back. This gets worse as the baby grows heavier, causing an increased curvature of the lower back, badly stressing the fragile facet joints on the outer edge of the spine. Women who have pre-existing spinal problems will find these changes even harder and more painful to cope with as the spine and pelvis become seriously overtaxed.
Studies show that around 50% of expectant mothers will develop low-back pain at some point during their pregnancies. This is more of a problem when the baby gains the most weight during the third trimester. Regular chiropractic care throughout pregnancy to condition the spine and pelvis helps to ease and may even prevent the pain and discomfort, creating the conditions for an easier and safer delivery. Most women who undergo chiropractic care during pregnancy find that they more easily forgo pain medication and experience reduced time in labor. Beside the adjustments, your chiropractor can also help with advice on nutrition, ergonomics and exercise.
Chiropractic Advice for the Pregnant Woman
- Seek regular adjustments to ensure a healthy skeletal structure and nervous system throughout pregnancy.
- Exercise gently each day. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, swimming, or stationary cycling are all relatively safe for pregnant women. Activities that cause any jerking or bouncing movements should be avoided. Any nausea, dizziness or weakness during exercise is a sign that you should stop straight away.
- Wear flat shoes with arch supports to offset the extra burden of weight during pregnancy, and to avoid foot injuries from weakened ligaments.
- When picking up children or anything else, bend at the knees, not at the waist, to better protect your more vulnerable low back.
- Lie on your side when sleeping, with a pillow between your knees to ease the pressure on your lower back. Full-length body pillows are specially designed for pregnancy.
- Swap your three large meals a day for several small meals or snacks every few hours. This will counter feelings of nausea, stabilize blood sugar, and make it easier for your body to absorb more nutrients.
- Increase your intake of folic acid from the moment you start trying to get pregnant, and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Foods high in folic acid include spinach, sprouts, broccoli, green beans, and potatoes, but a supplement ensures a decent supply. You should aim for a minimum of 400 micrograms a day, but preferably 800. Studies have shown this significantly reduces the risk of your baby developing neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.