At no time in human experience are there more vital developments in the female body than in the periods before, during, and after pregnancy. Being in an optimal “state of being” will allow the mother-to-be the best opportunity for a more comfortable pregnancy and give her new baby the essential ingredients required for an outstanding development that will set the foundation for a life of health.
When caring for a pregnant woman, the Chiropractor has two main objectives: Structural and Neurological Integrity. The Structural component consists of symmetrical alignment (or as close to it as possible) and proper movement. The Neurological component consists of a free flow of nerve impulses to all cells of the body without interference. Optimal Structural and Neurological integrity leads to an increase in overall physiological and psychological health, which allows for an optimal internal environment for the mother, the growing baby, and the supportive partner.
Creating a more flexible body, especially in the region of the lumbar spine and pelvis, is crucial for a successful pregnancy. Ideally, the mother-to-be’s spine should be subluxation-free before conception. Subluxation is a term used to describe what happens when a spinal bone, or bones, misaligns and causes pressure or irritation to be placed on the nerve exiting between the vertebra. This is detrimental to one’s health process because the nervous system is the information super highway that allows for all communication and development to happen. A useful analogy is to think of what a dam does to a river and all the changes it makes to its ecology. With a flexible but stabilized spine the mother-to-be is able to handle the increase in 20-30 lbs that she will be carrying. This is a matter of gravity and biomechanics.
As the pregnancy advances, breast tissue becomes larger as does the size of the belly. To help ease the changes in the biomechanics, i.e., weight distribution, specific chiropractic adjustments to the distorted and misaligned spine will help the mother-to-be adapt to the increased stress on her spine and body. By staying out of pain from jammed and compressed joints, emotional volatility and fatigue are reduced. Pre/peri natal yoga classes, support groups, and working with a childbirth practitioner like a doula or midwife are great compliments to chiropractic care during this life phase.
Another vitally important reason for chiropractic care is in-utero constraints. After the 7th month, throughout the final trimester, any position of the fetus other than a vertical head down position is considered to create constraint to the fetus and make it especially uncomfortable for the mother! The biomechanical constraints on the fetus and the potential for a more challenging labor, or even the need for heroic surgical procedures, all point toward chiropractic care as being not just helpful, but essential. Usually the lumbar spine, pubis and sacroiliac joints are the first to succumb to increased weight demands and associated ligament laxity from the hormone “relaxin.” As the abdominal region extends forward, the center of gravity changes and the mother-to-be must make adaptive changes to her posture. By making sure the pelvis and sacrum are moving freely the mother-tobe will have more freedom to move. By having more freedom she is able to move more often and exercise based on her ability and comfort level. During this phase the chiropractic methods tend to incorporate more sacro-occipital and energy release techniques, particularly in the lumbar spine.