Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy?
Wonderful news! You’ve got a baby on the way! You might have just confirmed it, or maybe you are getting close to the big day. Either way, you are likely to be changing physically, and experiencing some discomfort. Low-back pain is one of the most common afflictions experienced during pregnancy. More than 50% of pregnant women go through a period of low-back pain at some point. There are two main causes: hormonal changes and changes your center of gravity.
It can come as a shock to women that they feel back pain early in their pregnancy. Progesterone, a hormone produced in the early stages of pregnancy, is the first chemical change responsible for this low-back pain. Though this hormone is necessary for successful embryo implantation and gestation, it also softens the ligaments and disks in your back. The support provided to your upper body is substantially limited as a result, potentially leading to muscle spasms and cramps in your lower back.
The hormone relaxin is increasingly produced in your body as your pregnancy progresses. This hormone plays a very important part during labor and delivery; as its name suggests, relaxin relaxes the joints in your pelvis to allow the baby room to pass through the birth canal. On the other hand, it can cause other joints in your body to move abnormally, leading to inflammation and pain.
A number of changes result from your growing fetus which can lead to low-back pain. Your growing fetus and expanding uterus demand that your abdominal muscles stretch well beyond their normal capacity to accommodate the additional growth. In this state, as your abdominal muscles are no longer able to support proper body posture, additional weight from your torso is transferred from your torso to your lower back.
Your pregnancy can dramatically change your center of gravity. During the course of the average pregnancy, the typical woman gains 7-8 pounds of “baby,” 1-2 pounds of placenta, 2 pounds of amniotic fluid, and 2 pounds of uterine tissue! This additional weight shifts the center of gravity to the front of the body, putting additional stress on the lower back.
However common back pain might seem in pregnancy, it must be taken seriously. Pay attention to any low-back pain you might have, and speak to your healthcare provider about it. This can help to weed out the possibility of ignoring an underlying condition, like an injury from an accident. One possibility if you experience a low, dull backache that comes and goes at rhythmic intervals is that you are in labor. This “back labor,” which many women experience, is just labor felt primarily in the back. Severe back pain and fever may indicate an infection, though you may still have an infection without a fever.
There are several steps you can take to prevent and manage low-back pain in pregnancy:
- Pelvic tilts and other exercises that focus on stretching.
- Keeping good posture practices: standing tall and straight, taking your shoulders down and back, and curling your buttocks under.
- Avoid standing for extended stretches of time. If it can’t be avoided, you can alleviate some of the strain by putting up one food on a small object, such as a low step stool.
- You might try putting a small pillow behind your lower back when sitting.
- Do not be tempted to wear high-heeled shoes. Flat shoes with good arch support will be far healthier for your back.
- Try to wear maternity pants with a wide elastic band worn under the belly for a little extra support.
- Check with maternity and healthcare stores for maternity belts, or girdles that are specifically designed for pregnant women. Oftentimes these are covered by insurance if prescribed by your healthcare provider, so ask your insurance company if this is the case.
- When sleeping, put a pillow between your legs and sleep on your side. Try to sleep on a good, firm mattress that supports your back.
A maternity pillow, which is simply a pillow designed for use by pregnant women, can take some of the strain off your back.
- Never lift with your back. When you do have to lift something — avoiding heavy items altogether — use your legs.
- Take big loads in smaller chunks, rather than all at once.
- Stay in good physical shape (with your doctor’s permission, try walking or swimming).
- See if your partner or friend will help you with a back massage. Have them gently rub or knead the sore spots, or you might try it from someone trained to massage pregnant women.
- There are some good ways to soothe your back with warm compresses, as well, like a heating pad set to it’s most gentle point, a comfortably warm bath, or lowering yourself in the shower so that a stream of warm water makes contact with your lower back.
- You may be one of many women who benefit from chiropractic care, which is considered safe. Check with your doctor first.
- Acupuncture might be a good choice for you, but again be sure to get the permission of your healthcare provider.
- Pain relievers whose active ingredient is acetaminophen, including Tylenol, are safe for use by pregnant women.
Of course, whether or not you seek the support of an Ocala chiropractor, a “magical cure” unfortunately does not exist. Your decision whether or not to live without pain is a long-term commitment, one personal to you as you seek treatment. Change may not occur immediately, and may in fact take several weeks to be noticed, due to the fact that much back pain is caused by overt strain or injuries. For that reason, it’s important to remain patient.
During pregnancy, be sure to pay extremely close attention to your body as it changes, and jot down details as they come. Keep vigilant, even with things that you might have let slide if you didn’t have to think about your baby, also. You will likely be shocked by the amount of physical change you experience in pregnancy, in spite of the mountains of reading you might have done. This is normal. Stay alert, take low-back pain seriously, and enjoy the unique experience of being an expectant mother!