Low back pain, headaches, and thoracic/rib pain are common complaints I hear from pregnant patients that can be significantly improved with prenatal chiropractic care.  Over half of pregnant women experience back pain at some point, not a surprising statistic since the physical changes a woman under goes during pregnancy place an enormous burden on her spine, pelvis, and resources.  When added to other discomforts that pregnancy can bring, back pain and discomfort in general can seriously interferes with daily activities for moms to be.

Rather than suffering silently or taking a gamble with painkillers, more and more pregnant women are turning to prenatal chiropractic care to ease the discomfort of back pain, headaches and other pregnancy related challenges.  There are definitely unique issues facing expectant mothers and prenatal chiropractic care can assist moms in order to allow her to enjoy her pregnancy.

Why Pregnancy Causes Back Pain

During pregnancy, a woman typically gains 25-35 pounds.  The baby, uterus, placenta and amniotic fluid account for a great deal of this weight, moving the mother’s center of gravity forward to the front of her pelvis.  As the baby grows, the increased weight pushes the pelvis out, making the curvature of the mother’s lower back more pronounced.  The extra stress causes low back pain. (J Am Chriopr Assoc 2003; 40:29030).  In the third trimester,  pain may also result form the baby’s head pressing down on a major nerve, such as the sciatic nerve or lumbar nerves.  (Spine 1987;12: 368-71).  Additionally, the third trimester brings a spike in relaxin, the hormone produced by the mother’s body to relax pelvic joints in preparation for deliver.  Unfortunately, it also weaken other joints, like those in the spine and symphysis pubis (anterior pubic bone area); leaving them unstable and prone to pain (J Am Chiropr Assoc 2003;40:18-24).

Painkillers: Not Worth the Risks

Over the counter pain medication may seem like an easy solution, and many healthcare providers assure pregnant women that they are safe during pregnancy.  However, when taking medication there is always a concern about the possible effects on fetal development.  A newly published study questioned 2,800 pregnant women on their use of painkillers and later correlated their responses with health assessments of their newborns.

Researchers discovered a clear association between prenatal analgesic use and undescended testicles in infant boys.  This supports findings from animal trials that the drugs impair hormones needed for fetuses to develop male sex traits. (Hum Reprod 2001;26:235-44).  Another investigation of prenatal exposure to NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen, revealed that the medication increase likelihood of physical deformities in rats (Reprod Toxicol 2009;28:239-44).  Another reason an natural approach to pain relief is important is there are additional hazards like liver toxicity and gastrointestinal complications (Med J Aust 2008;188:296-301). Pain medication is a risk to the baby and mom.

Prenatal Chiropractic Relieves Pain

Chiropractic science and philosophy put an emphasis on a drug free approach to pain that supports the body’s self healing power. Many complaints, including back pain, are rooted in misalignments in the spinal bones or vertebra, called vertebral subluxations.  Researchers confirm that prenatal chiropractic relieves pregnancy related back pain. (J Mid-Wifery Women’s Health 2006;51:e7-10).  In this study, improvements was significant, and there were no associated adverse side effects.

Doctors of chiropractic correct vertebral subluxation with chiropractic adjustments, gentle maneuvers that supple the spine, correct nerve imbalances improving alignment and relieving pain.  Since the physical changes of pregnancy can cause or exacerbate vertebral subluxations, chiropractic care is an ideal therapy for mothers to be. A prenatal chiropractic is unique in that they have special pillows and tables to accommodate the pregnant body.

Easier Labor

More good news: Prenatal Chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy may actually make childbirth more comfortable.  A retrospective study of women  who had received chiropractic care had less pain during labor.  These women also had a lower incidence of “back labor”.

A Safe Respite from Headaches

Some women can have an increase in chronic headaches during pregnancy (even those who have had no history of headaches in the past). (Nat Rev Neurol 2008;8:385-95)Chronic headaches in pregnancy usually result form a combination of hormonal changes and the physical and emotional stress of carrying a child.   A case study followed a 24 year old expectant mom who had experienced chronic migraine headaches for 12 years.  Conventional drugs and physical therapy provided only minimal relief.  Chiropractic care greatly relieved her migraines and helped her enjoy her pregnancy without relying on painkillers (Complement Ther Clin Pract 2009; 15:192-7).

A Solution for Breech Babies

A particular prenatal chiropractic technique can make a huge difference for women whose babies have not “turned” to a head down position by the eight month of gestation.  Breech presentation, the baby positions with feet or buttocks toward the birth canal occurs in about one in 25 pregnancies.  It often prompts health care providers to recommend a Caesarean section.

Dr. Kimberly Maxwell has specialized training, from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), in a the Webster Technique .  This is a simple, safe adjustment that balances the alignment of the bones in the pelvis and associated muscles and ligaments.  Unlike other methods for correcting a breech presentation, the Webster techniques does not directly move the baby, but simply makes it easier for the baby to move itself. This specialized technique is only available in a Chiropractic office.   The Webster Technique reduces constraint on the uterus form the mother’s musculoskeletal system, giving the baby space to turn naturally to the correct head-down position.

A survey of chiropractors who perofmr the Webster Techniques shows an impressive 82% success rate.  Comparatively, only 9% of fetuses with breech presentation at 34 weeks turn spontaneously. (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002;25:E1-9)

Pregnant? Make a Chiropractic Appointment Today!

This Chiropractic office enjoys being a part of the care team for moms-to-be.  Whether you just got a positive result on your pregnancy test or are due next week,  request an appointment with us today.  In Bozeman, Dr. Kimberly Maxwell at Abundant Health Family Chiropractic is THE go-to resource for the health and wellbeing of your entire family, starting with prenatal care!  Being 20 years in practice, you can trust her expertise and experience in serving you and your family, keeping you healthy, well, and wise.

Tips to Relieve Back Pain While Your Are Expecting

  • Maintain regular chiropractic care, even if you are NOT in pain.
  • Place a pillow between your knees and sleep on your side to relieve stress on your lower back.
  • Skip the stilettos-stick with flat or low heeled shoes for safety and back comfort while your center of gravity is in flux.
  • Give extra attention to workplace ergonomics.  Sit up straight in a supportive chair, add a cushion for your back if necessary, and use a small stool or footrest to take strain off of your legs and back.
  • Exercise to keep your back muscles strong and better able to support your changing body.  Walking, swimming, and stationary cycling are good low impact choices during pregnancy.