The following article is from the Canadian Chiropractic Association website. Author: CCA Staff Team
It’s discouraging when the excitement of preparing for the birth of your baby is overshadowed by pregnancy pain and discomfort. Don’t despair! There is help available for both you and your baby at the chiropractor!
Why am I in pain? Low back, pelvis and hip pain during pregnancy is caused by a perfect storm of mechanical, hormonal and circulatory changes that put stress on your musculoskeletal (MSK) system. Luckily, Canadian chiropractors have the expertise to treat MSK conditions and are uniquely qualified to relieve pregnancy pain and discomfort without the use of medication – (usually a no-no during pregnancy) as well as provide holistic advice to maintain health before, during and after the baby is born.
With a normal weight gain of 20-40 lbs., most pregnant women experience a shift in their centre of gravity that puts stress on their lower backs. Your expanding belly can increase the curvature (“lordosis”) of your lower spine which, in turn, affects your posture when your body overcompensates to regain balance. If that weren’t enough, your core abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the baby, and your back is left to support your increasing weight.
Hormonal & Circulatory Changes
The concentration of the hormone “relaxin” increases 10 times during pregnancy to help soften your pelvic region and allow it to stretch, but your newly relaxed muscles can also contribute to low back pain and joint discomfort. Plus, blood volume can increase 50%, which can lead to inflammation and water retention (edema). This can also contribute to your pelvic, low back and hip discomfort.
Pregnancy Pain: Low Back, Pelvis & Hips
MSK pain is very common during pregnancy. In fact, of pregnant women:
- 20% have pelvic girdle pain1
- 50-85% have low back pain2
Many women also feel pain in their sacroiliac joint in their hips that can cause pain and discomfort in the whole region of the hips and buttocks, and run down the legs into the feet.
Chiropractic Care for Pregnancy Pain
Chiropractors help relieve pregnancy-related back, hip and pelvic pain by realigning the spine and balancing the pelvis. Prenatal chiropractic treatment involves safe and gentle adjustments, massage, exercise and stretching.
Throughout pregnancy, chiropractic techniques are adapted for belly growth and modified using props like pregnancy pillows and customized tables. The chiropractor can assess your pelvis, sacrum and vertebrae for any misalignments that could be responsible for pain or creating uterine constraint.
Tips for Expectant Mothers
In addition to gentle, non-invasive chiropractic treatment, there are some tips you can follow to help keep your spine aligned:
- Exercise! Keep your core strong so it can support your spine. Ask your healthcare practitioner about the benefits of swimming, yoga or other low-impact exercise programs.
- Sleep well! You know you need to rest, but are you sleeping smart? Your growing uterus can place pressure on the large blood vessels in your abdomen and restrict blood flow. Sleep on your left side and place a pillow between your knees to keep your spine in proper alignment.
- Think twice! Maybe put those killer heels aside until after the baby is born. Rest frequently with your feet elevated. Don’t lift heavy objects (or toddlers) – ask for help.
1. Aldabe D, Ribeiro DC, Milosavljevic S, Dawn Bussey M. Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain and its relationship with relaxin levels during pregnancy: a systematic review. Eur Spine J 2012;21(9):1769-76. Epub 2012 Feb 4. 2. Stuber KJ, Wynd S, Weis CA. Adverse events from spinal manipulation in the pregnant and postpartum periods: a critical review of the literature. Chiropr Man Therap 2012;20:8.