Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy — What You Can Expect
Pregnancy brings about all kinds of changes, some readily apparent, some less so. While you may not be surprised by your burgeoning belly or fluctuating hormones, other symptoms, such as lower back pain, joint discomfort, round ligament pain, loose limbs and rapidly shifting posture, may be less expected — and far less welcome.
As your baby grows and your center of gravity shifts, your spine shifts too. This initiates a ripple effect, stressing your musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and enacting changes you may not even realize link back to pregnancy.
When daily discomfort affects your mobility and ability to enjoy your pregnancy, chiropractic care can help. Here’s what you need to know about chiropractic during pregnancy and how this noninvasive form of whole-body care can make motherhood a less stressful, more enjoyable experience.
Is Chiropractic Care Safe During Pregnancy?
First things first. As a mother-to-be, you’re used to putting your baby first. That means you’re taking extra steps to ensure that any treatment you seek is safe not just for you but for the life you’re carrying, too.
Consider the following before committing to a new practice:
- The chiropractor’s credentials. You want a qualified, experienced chiropractor — one who has the additional training needed to work on pregnant women.
- The equipment. Pregnancy makes it difficult to lay face down on a normal chiropractic table, so your doctor should offer a special table or adaptability devices, such as special cushioning that cradles your bump while you get adjusted.
- Your OB-GYN’s permission. There are certain conditions which may preclude chiropractic care during pregnancy, and it’s crucial to get your obstetrician’s okay before seeking out any kind of alternative or specialist treatment. There may be a reason to avoid chiropractic until after you deliver. For instance, chiropractic may be ill-advised if you’re experiencing or have been diagnosed with vaginal bleeding, placenta previa, placental abruption, toxemia, or an ectopic pregnancy.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy
As your belly grows, so does your spinal curvature. The placenta will also start to secrete increasing amounts of a hormone called relaxin that will eventually help the cervix dilate. Prior to labor, relaxin helps loosen your ligaments, allowing the pelvis to soften, so it can accommodate a vaginal birth. All those loose ligaments can lead to hip pain, pelvic pain, and sacroiliac dysfunction.
Chiropractic care can help realign the spine and joints affected by pregnancy. By combining regular adjustments and supportive modalities, such as stretching, acupuncture, and hot and cold therapy, you may find relief from your aches, pains, and muscle tension.
Because musculoskeletal adjustments affect the nervous system, you may also experience additional benefits, such as:
- Reduced nausea
- Fewer headaches
- Less edema (swelling)
- Reduced sciatic pain
- More restful sleep
- Faster, less complicated labor and delivery
There are several certifications that indicate a chiropractor has undertaken advanced pregnancy-related training. One of the most familiar is the Webster Certification or Webster technique, a specific type of chiropractic analysis and adjustment that aims to correct sacral and pelvic misalignment.
The goal of the Webster technique is to help facilitate labor and delivery, but it can also create more room in the pelvis. Ideally, babies should be head down and rear-facing when it’s time to deliver; a baby who is breech, or feet first, could require more interventions (such as a C-section) and a more complicated birthing process. The Webster technique can help ensure your baby is in the optimal position when labor begins.
“After learning at 38 weeks, our third child was transverse in the womb (sideways), Dr. Lambrou and team was confident that they would be able to remedy the situation to a natural birth…Dr. Lambrou was able to successfully turn my child after a short series of visits, and we were able to achieve a smooth natural birth. We offer our gratitude and many thanks to Dr. Lambrou and his supporting staff as they have made a tremendous positive impact on this joyous time…” – Caycee Duncan, NESSM Patient
Dangers of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy
The American Pregnancy Association has found that there are no reasons to avoid chiropractic care during pregnancy, provided you work with a chiropractor trained in prenatal techniques and your OB-GYN approves.
Listen to your body, and let your chiropractor know if you start experiencing symptoms that seem abnormal or if an adjustment doesn’t feel quite right.
What to Expect from Chiropractic Care When You’re Pregnant
In many ways, chiropractic care during pregnancy looks a lot like the chiropractic care you receive when you’re not expecting. If you’re new to the practice, you’ll be asked to fill out important patient forms detailing your medical history, your pregnancy due date, and any specific concerns you’d like to address, such as sciatica or hip pain. This is also a good time to review your insurance benefits to see what’s covered and what isn’t.
Your actual office visit will go something like this:
- First, your chiropractor will conduct a physical assessment to gauge your overall mobility and identify areas of misalignment or dysfunction.
- Your chiropractor will take the results of that assessment combined with your medical history and formulate a customized treatment plan that may include other modalities and services deemed safe for pregnancy.
- You’ll have a chance to look over that treatment plan, ask questions, and gain clarification.
- Now it’s time for your adjustment! This is the best part, as it’s what will help you start feeling better. You’ll get comfortable face down on a special table or maternity cushion while your chiropractor makes calculated, gentle adjustments. This is not a jerk-and-snap approach to patient care. The health and safety of you and your baby are of the utmost importance, and it’s not necessary to use a great amount of force to achieve positive results.
After your adjustment, it’s vital you drink plenty of water to support healthy levels of hydration and give your body the fuel it needs to heal. Staying hydrated can also help with blood flow, lymphatic draining and swelling, supporting your chiropractor’s work, and facilitating a happier, healthier pregnancy.
When to Start Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy
You can start chiropractic care as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed and your obstetrician approves treatment, though many people are already regularly seeing a chiropractor while they’re trying to conceive. As soon as you feel pain, check with your OB-GYN, then call your chiropractor and make an appointment. Don’t wait until the discomfort is unbearable — the sooner you seek help, the sooner you can coax your body into a better position and improve your day-to-day living.
Even if you’ve gone through most of your pregnancy without seeing a chiropractor, you can still see one before delivery. Perhaps you felt great for 8 months but realize your baby still hasn’t flipped into the proper head-down position and your due date is rapidly approaching. Perhaps you simply need a little relief while you’re in the home stretch. Reach out, and ask your chiropractor for an assessment to see how he or she can help.
How Often to See a Chiropractor During Pregnancy
Your chiropractor’s treatment plan will indicate how often you should schedule your office visits, but that plan may evolve as your pregnancy progresses. New aches and pains or waning discomfort could lead to more adjustments or far fewer. That said, many mothers-to-be schedule more frequent adjustments as they near their due date to help get their bodies in tip-top shape before the onset of labor.
Very generally speaking, it’s not unusual to see your chiropractor once a month during your first trimester and then every two or three weeks until you hit the last month of your pregnancy, when you may schedule weekly visits until delivery.
Which Week of Pregnancy Should I Stop Chiropractic?
Not only is there no reason to stop seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy as long as you remain healthy overall, you’ll likely benefit from adjustments even more as you navigate your third trimester. The final few months of pregnancy are often marked by a burst of weight gain as your baby fills out, and those extra pounds combine with loosened ligaments and a widening pelvis to throw everything from your gait to your posture out of whack.
Rather than toughing it out and waiting until your baby is born to get help, allow your chiropractor to step in and correct your alignment, so you can have the comfortable pregnancy you deserve.
To connect with a pregnancy chiropractor you can trust, call NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine today at (732) 653-1000. With convenient locations throughout northeast New Jersey, we can offer you easy access to the help you need to have the pregnancy, labor and delivery you’ve always wanted.