Chiropractic Care and Pregnancy
Chiropractic and the Pregnant Woman
The muscle strains and back pain of pregnancy are very real and can be more than just a nuisance. The average weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the baby, can sometimes result in severe discomfort. In fact, studies have found that about half of all expectant mothers will develop low back pain at some point during their pregnancy. This is especially true during late pregnancy, when the baby's head presses down on a woman's back, legs and buttocks, putting pressure on her sciatic nerve. And for those who already suffer from low back pain, the problem can become even worse.
During pregnancy, a woman's center of gravity almost immediately begins to shift forward to the front of her pelvis and the displaced weight increases the stress on her joints. Furthermore, as the baby grows in size, the woman's weight is projected even farther forward, and the curvature of her lower back is increased, placing extra stress on her spinal disks in that area. As a result, the spine in the upper back area must compensate - and the normal curvature of her upper spine increases as well.
To combat this, during pregnancy hormones are released that help loosen the ligaments attached to the pelvic bones. But even these natural changes designed to accommodate the growing baby can result in postural imbalances, causing pregnant women to be more prone to awkward trips and falls.
How Chiropractic Care Helps
Chiropractic care is a good alternative to over-the-counter and prescription drugs for back pain. Since a chiropractor manipulates the spine to ease back pain, there is no medication involved, making it a safe and more natural form of relief. If you are worried about the safety of the procedure, rest assured that many studies have found there to be no risk to either mother and fetus when a trained professional does spinal manipulation.
Even before you become pregnant, a chiropractor can help you out. They will be able to properly assess your body and diagnose any already existing imbalances in your pelvis or elsewhere that may increase your discomfort during pregnancy. Additionally, they will be able to detect factors in your skeletal structure that may lead to problems after you give birth.
After your pregnancy, you chiropractor can treat you to help ensure that your stretched out joints and loosened ligaments get back into their proper places. Chiropractic care may also help relieve some headaches, shoulder problems and muscle and rib discomfort caused by your changing body.
And don’t forget to ask your chiropractor for tips on proper back exercises and nutrition to help ensure you have a comfortable and healthy pregnancy.
Tips for a Healthy Back
Exercise: Not only does exercise help you from gaining too much weight during your pregnancy, it also helps strengthen your muscles and prevent or relieve any discomfort you might experience. Exercising just three times a week can make a big difference in how you feel. Walking, swimming and yoga as well as using a stationary bike are all excellent forms of exercise for pregnant women. Prenatal yoga classes cab especially help to relieve back tension. Always stop exercise if you experience warning signs like dizziness, nausea, blurred vision or vaginal bleeding.
Proper Shoes: High heels may make your legs look great but they wreak havoc on your back and posture. During pregnancy, the last thing you want is to exacerbate a backache so wear flat, comfortable shoes as often as you can. If you do have to wear high heels, go for a low heel rather than your favorite stilettos.
Lift Properly: Whenever you are lifting a heavy object, whether it is an older child or a large television, always bend from the knees, not your waist. It is also best not to turn your head when you lift an object. If you can, try to avoid lifting heavy objects all together when you’re pregnant.
At Work: If you spend most of your day sitting in front of a computer, make sure your workstation is set up to be ergonomically correct. The top of your computer monitor should be no higher than eye level. Also, be sure to put your feet up on a small footrest periodically to relieve the pressure in your legs and feet. If you can, try to stretch your legs by taking short walks around the office every half hour or so.
At Home: Get lots of rest! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Sit down and put your feet up whenever you can. If you feel tired then take a nap. When you are sleeping, it is a good idea to lie on your side and place a pillow between your legs. This helps to take the pressure off of your lower back. A body pillow is very popular with many pregnant women and can be used after the baby is born to make breastfeeding more comfortable.
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