Pregnancy can be an extremely exciting time for an expecting mother. Unfortunately, it can also take a toll on her body. The aches and pains as result of weight gain and posture changes, along with emotional changes due to hormones being released can be a lot to deal with. This can be even more difficult for a pregnant mother if she does not know where to go for help. The good news is that chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment to help ease those pregnancy aches and pains.
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. At Linford Chiropractic, Dr. Galasso is able to relieve pregnancy-related pain and discomfort without the use of medication – (which is 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 healthy weight gain of 20-40 lbs., most pregnant women experience a shift in their centre of gravity that puts stress on their lower backs. As your abdomen grows and breasts begin to enlarge, your centre of gravity shifts forwards. Your posture must adjust to prevent yourself from falling over. The weight of the growing belly gives a pregnant woman the sensation that their weight is being pulled forwards and down. As a result, the curve in the small of your back becomes accentuated and your pelvis tilts forward. If that weren’t enough, your core abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the baby, and your back is left to support your increasing weight. This in turn puts strain on the upper body. You mid-back becomes rounded, your shoulders roll forward and your chin and neck to reach forward. Your heavy head puts strain on the muscles of your upper back and neck as they try to hold everything close, which often results in headaches. Your chiropractor will monitor your postural changes while your belly grows. Specific exercises, stretches, sleeping positions and lifestyle modifications will be recommended to minimize the stress your body feels with these postural changes.
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 for the passage of your baby during child birth, the downside is that your newly relaxed muscles can also contribute to low back pain and joint discomfort. Now that your body is supplying blood for two, a pregnant woman’s 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
Aches and pains are very common during pregnancy. In fact, almost 20% of pregnant women will experience pelvic girdle pain1, also referred to as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and 50 to 85%2 of pregnant women will experience low back pain during their pregnancy and post-partum period.
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, buttocks, and run down the legs into the feet.
Sciatica is a common complaint in pregnancy, that often accompanies low back pain. Sciatica is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. Its symptoms include: pain radiating from the lower back, buttocks, and/or down the back of one leg, and sometimes into the foot. Women often experience an aching or burning, tingling or zinging throughout their leg. It usually occurs only in one side and often intensifies intensify with pregnancy weight gain and hormonal fluctuations.
Round ligament pain is another common complaint in pregnancy and is marked by a stretching, aching, or painful radiance on the underside of your growing belly into your groin. Often, when there is tension on the round ligament, babies are more likely to present in a breech (bum down, head up) position. A breech presentation can intensify a mom’s low back and hip pain. Chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue work focused on the round ligament and its attachment sites can release the tension and allowing more room for the baby which can encourage the baby to turn into the more favored head down position. These techniques, commonly referred to as Webster’s Technique, are also useful in decreasing the occurrence and intensity of back labour which can result in dystocia and can be quite painful and exhausting for the mom.
Finally, one of the least reported, and most uncomfortable complaint of pregnancy is symphysis pubis dysfunction, also known as pelvic girdle pain. Because of the hormones women release during pregnancy, the added weight and girth of the uterus setting upon the pelvis, and the over compensation of her posture, some women experience an intense pain of the pubic arch (the mons pubis area), popping of the hip joints, groin discomfort, and lower abdominal issues. This is often accompanied with intense pain down the front of one leg. The pain is worse while trying to get dressed while standing on one leg putting pants on, climbing stairs, or getting in and out of a car. The pain can be so intense that women will often use a cane or crutches to minimize any movement of their pelvis. Chiropractors can help to decrease and eliminate this pain through specific adjustments of the front of the pelvis. The adjustments are quick and gentle and typically, the mother experiences an immediate decrease in her pain and is able to move better.
Chiropractic care during pregnancy can help alleviate all of the above strains, pains, discomforts, and stresses. Commonly, women who have chiropractic care during pregnancy can benefit by experiencing:
- Healthier pregnancies
- Less discomfort during pregnancy
- Less nausea during pregnancy
- Head-down positioning of baby decreasing the need for a cesarean section due to a breech presentation
- Shorter, easier labor and birth
Regular chiropractic care before any of these issues crop up is your best bet for an easier, more comfortable pregnancy and delivery!
Dr. Galasso has taken extensive training to be able to treat the unique aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Combined with her midwifery and doula background she is able to help you navigate this journey to help ensure you have a healthy and safe pregnancy. Throughout your pregnancy, Dr. Galasso will modify and adapt her chiropractic techniques to accommodate your growing belly and postural changes. Special pregnancy-pillows are used during treatments to ensure comfort and to ensure you receive the maximum therapeutic benefit from your chiropractic treatments.
- 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.
- 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.