Today we how talk with Dr. Erin Hawkins about when and how a Chiropractor can help mum to be and her growing bub – and it's not just about alleviating a sore back.
The Chiropractor's role in pregnancy care actually begins before conception. In fact, the ideal time to have your pelvis assessed for any imbalances and restrictions; or as Chiros call them, subluxations, and corrected, is before you even fall pregnant. In this way you are ahead of the game.
Your pregnant body undergoes much change – are you feeling it? As your growing uterus expands it pulls your sacrum forward, causing a tilt of your pelvis and flexion of your hips. This can tighten your hip flexor and gluteal muscles. Meanwhile the hormone relaxin relaxes the ligaments of your pelvis to allow the 3 joints of the pelvis to open up at birth. All this change can lead to imbalances that present as a sore lower back, sciatica, hip pain, abdominal discomfort, pubis symphysis dysfunction and pelvic instability.
After conception a Chiropractor can optimise pelvic function by reducing any tension to your uterine ligaments and tissues from a misaligned sacrum. There is also some evidence to suggest that breech babies can be avoided by reducing intrauterine constraint caused by uterine and ligament stress. Have you heard of the Alexander Technique? It is a chiropractic technique designed to relieve musculoskeletal causes of intrauterine constraint and is 82% successful – ahhhh there is hope…
Leading up to the birth the Chiropractor ensures that the 3 joints of your pelvis are functioning at their best to assist optimal vaginal delivery. Now here is some news all women can get excited about - chiropractic care has been shown as a way to significantly reduce labour time for women who have care throughout their pregnancy! In one study, Dr. Joan Fallon found that first-time mums averaged a 24% shorter labour, while experienced mothers (those who had given birth before) had a 39% reduction in the average labour time. In another hospital study that incorporated chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy, results indicated a 50% decrease in the need for painkillers during delivery, attributable to pre-delivery Chiro adjustments. It is also suggested chiropractic care may even reduce the need for intervention such as vacuum, forceps or caesarian at delivery.
In the post birth period, chiropractic care can be used to restore balance to your 'pelvic team' – that's the bits and bobs of your pelvic structure that need to work together for best pelvic function. Also, as relaxin is still secreted during breastfeeding, instability and alignment can continue to be an issue for some new mums. Gentle spinal adjustment s can be used in conjunction with strengthening exercises for the pelvic muscles as part of complete post birth care and repair.
The take home message whether you are pregnant or planning, is don't wait until you are in pain or can't walk, give a Chiro the chance to enhance your pregnancy and birth experience.
Thank you to Dr. Erin Hawken of Chirofamily www.chirofamily.com.au for her insights.
C. Borggren, 2007, Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature, Journal of Chiropractic Medicine.
Pistolese, July/August 2002, The Webster Technique, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.