FAQ Series--Is it Safe to get Adjusted When You are Pregnant?
To address this question, let’s start with the main goals of pregnancy. If I had to sum it up in just a few words I would say: a healthy mom and baby, a healthy birth, and a healthy postpartum. The things that you do during pregnancy contribute greatly to those results—more specifically the knowledge that you acquire and the actions that you take help create the outcome. Being pregnant is a joyful time full of expectation for many mamas BUT not all mamas, and some suffer profoundly to bring their babies into this world. This suffering can lead to pain, prepartum/postpartum depression, a desire to have less children, fear, anxiety, and other annoying discomforts such as heartburn, hemorrhoids, headaches, high blood pressure, and more. So I am writing this today to share that most of this can be prevented or alleviated, and that while pregnancy, birth, and postpartum are still a big job, you are not alone and you do not need to suffer.
Chiropractic care is a safe, effective, and evidence based method for helping women during their pregnancies. In fact it goes beyond safe—it is incredibly beneficial! Leading off, these are the most common pregnancy issues that we address in our office: low back pain, sciatica, heartburn, nausea & vomiting, low immune function, neck pain, headaches, round ligament pain, and breech babies. Most of these things are alleviated with gentle chiropractic adjustments, and others are alleviated by simple nutrition changes and supplementation.
Now let’s talk about the benefits that go beyond symptom relief! The essence of chiropractic care is increasing the life and vitality within you. When a chiropractor realigns your spine it increases the nerve flow and communication between your brain and your body. Just imagine for one moment the nervous system all by itself. It’s the brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves weaving out like a giant spider web-- powering every single part of your body. If your uterus or placenta need something, they use the nervous system to tell the brain, and the brain then orchestrates the delivery of that need—whether it was nutrients, a temperature change, a contraction (during delivery), or an alteration to amniotic fluid levels. Whatever the need, your nervous system performs it.
However in order for the nervous system to function optimally, it must be free of compression because nerve impulses move through fluid. When your spine is out of alignment it compresses the nervous system (like squeezing a hose) and it is almost imperceptible unless pain is present. The misaligned joint is wrapped up in scar tissue and chiropractors that a subluxation. When subluxations are present, the body’s ability to function normally decreases. So, when you get adjusted, it breaks apart the scar tissue and realigns the spine, allowing the brain to communicate clearly with the entire body, including the uterus and placenta that serve the needs of the growing baby.
But there’s more! Because chiropractic optimizes nervous system function, women who receive chiropractic care during pregnancy experience shorter labors and less pain during delivery--because of all that clear communication between the brain and body and the absence of scar tissue in the joints!! And who doesn’t want that?! Let’s illustrate this on a structural level--When all the ligaments, pelvic joints, and low back joints are moving freely and without restriction, then baby has the easiest time navigating the pelvis and making his or her way out. The pelvis is phenomenally dynamic and it bends and flexes and moves in many directions to birth that baby so long as there are not subluxations present-restricting that motion. It is an antiquated idea that a woman will grow a baby that is too big for her pelvis—rather a pelvis that is not subluxated will not trap a baby. Also we don’t tend to see babies getting stuck in the wrong position when labor starts; most breech babies are restricted in a uterus that is slightly torqued because of abnormally tight ligaments that won’t permit the baby to physically turn.
Now that we’ve got all that covered—I’m sure some of you are still simply wondering what it looks like for a woman with a big round belly to get adjusted. So let’s back up for a moment and say that in the first trimester, baby bellies don’t really get in the way. Even at the start of second trimester, babies are still just around three inches long and weigh about an ounce. All mamas are different with how they carry and when they show but once those baby bellies start to pop out, we use pregnancy pillows so that mamas can lay face down on the table. It’s a large pillow with a round cut out to allow plenty of space for baby so that there’s no compression of the belly. (Most moms love it btw, because it’s their only opportunity to lie in that position!) As the baby grows we increase the size of the pillow, and yes it is big enough for a mama who is 40+ weeks pregnant to get cozy on. The adjustments are gentle and chiropractors artfully work around the baby belly.
So…. what are you waiting for?? Investing in your health pays big dividends. And like so many things in life, you will get out of it, what you put in. You are worth it and so is your baby!