What happens to the body during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a time of rapid biological change. All bodily organs and systems are affected by the growth of the fetus and this brings with it alterations in body mass, a subsequent change in the centre of gravity and stretching and weakening of abdominal muscles.
Within the early period of pregnancy the woman will feel tired much more quickly and will often experience nausea. Be-cause the enlarging abdomen shifts the centre of gravity forward, the body compensates by increasing the curve in the lower back. This is known as “sway back.”
By the second and third trimester there is an increase in the hormones estrogen and relaxin which begin to affect the musculoskeletal system, causing softening of ligaments and increased joint laxity. During this phase of pregnancy the pelvic joints are relaxed and capable of greater movement. This allows greater rotation in the sacroiliac joint and allows alteration in the diameter of the pelvis at childbirth.
One of the developments in chiropractic prenatal care has been a method of correcting breech presentations in which the baby isn’t positioned properly for birth. Chiropractic techniques are able to release stress on the pregnant pelvis and cause relaxation of the uterus so that the baby will turn naturally. Studies have demonstrated a high success rate in turning babies in utero so they can be delivered successfully.
Source: Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, July/August 2002
Chiropractic Care for during Pregnancy
A common complaint that pregnant women have during pregnancy is back pain.
Chiropractors are specially trained to locate and correct problems that are causing back pain during pregnancy. It is a safe and effective method of care for both you and your baby. You will be positioned in a comfortable manner during your adjustments and no manipulations that place unneeded stress on the baby will be performed.
Additionally, some women report their labour is shorter and more comfortable after receiving adjustments during their pregnancy.
For more information on Chiropractic care and pregnancy, please see www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/chiropracticcare.html or www.chiropractic.on.ca/
Massage Therapy and Pregnancy
The primary goal for massage during pregnancy is to promote both the baby and the mother’s health. This is done via relaxation techniques as well as those that support proper lymphatic drainage and joint stability. All Registered Massage Therapists in Ontario are properly trained to treat pregnant women.
During your massage, you will likely be positioned on your side with a variety of pillows, in order to best support the weight of the baby and take pressure off your ligaments and blood vessels. Many different parts of the body can be treated in this manner, including the back, hips, abdomen, shoulders and neck.
Massage is also excellent for postpartum care. It can aid in regaining proper posture and biomechanics of the body. It can also help with any remaining back or hip pain, something that is quite common in women who had difficult deliveries.
Please talk to any of our Registered Massage Therapists if you have any concerns about pregnancy massage.
Chiropractic & Massage for your Baby
Most children develop within the womb with healthy, properly aligned spines. However, spinal misalignment may occur due to birth trauma. As the baby grows, he or she may also develop spinal problems due to injury. Having the spine checked by a Doctor of Chiropractic during these developmental stages can prevent not only spinal subluxations but also many other problems that are related to them.
Chiropractic adjusting procedures are modified to fit a child’s specific and unique spinal condition. Using their hands and/or specialized instruments proper correction can be made to the problem area or areas.
Can babies also benefit from massage? Of course! Just like adults need positive touch, so do babies. Whether performed by a Registered Massage Therapist or by the parents, it helps the baby’s growth and development as well as with mood, feeding, digestion, and sleeping. If you would like to learn more about baby massage, please speak with your Massage Therapist.
Pregnancy and Your Feet
Foot pain is an often overlooked complaint during pregnancy. Due to the natural weight gain during pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity is completely altered. This causes a new weight-bearing stance and added pressure to the knees and feet. Two of the most common foot problems experienced by pregnant woman are over- pronation and edema. These problems can lead to pain at the heel, arch, or the ball-of-foot. Many women may also experience leg cramping and varicose veins due to weight gain. Because of this, it is important for all pregnant women to learn more about foot health during their pregnancy to help make this nine month period more comfortable for them.
There are effective ways to treat both over-pronation and edema during pregnancy.
Over-Pronation can be treated conservatively with orthotics. Proper fitting footwear is also very important in treating over-pronation. Choose comfortable footwear that provides extra support and shock absorption.
It is recommended that a new foot scan/gait analysis be done during and after pregnancy to assess possible changes in the feet.
Edema in the feet can be minimized by the following methods: Elevate your feet as often as possible. If you have to sit for long periods of time, place a small stool by your feet to elevate them. Wear proper fitting footwear. Footwear that is too narrow or short will constrict circulation. Compression socks are also very helpful.
Self-Care Tips for During Pregnancy
1. Pelvic Tilt – strengthens your abdominal and back muscles to decrease back strain and fatigue
Inhale through nose and tighten your stomach and buttock muscles.
Flatten the small of your back against the floor and allow your pelvis to tilt upward
Hold for a count of five as you exhale slowly
Relax, repeat 10 times
2. Keep your knees bent while lying on your back.
3. When sitting, do not cross your legs. This position decreases circulation.
4. When doing any task where you are standing for a prolonged period of time put one foot up on a step or stool.
For example, if you are in the kitchen, open the cupboard door and place your foot on the bottom shelf. This will decrease the sway in your lower back and will relieve pressure.
5. Don’t lock your knees. Locking the knees can also increase pressure on your low back. Instead, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and flex your knees just a bit so that the thighs are holding the majority of your weight.
6. Mild to moderate exercise, such as walking or swimming, is a great way to keep fit during pregnancy. Just make sure to use caution with any flexibility exercises, as the increased laxity of your joints puts you at risk for injury.
Any questions about self-care or pregnancy in general?
Just ask any member of the Back To Health team!