“I wish I knew this earlier.” The six words I hear most often from pregnant women who seek care in my office. Those same six words inspire me everyday to share with and educate young women and families about the importance of supporting oneself throughout pregnancy. As a chiropractor who specializes in prenatal care, most women come into my office with a certain expectation about what kind of care they will receive, or more importantly what that care will help with. Those same women end up leaving my office uttering the famous six words that wake me up each morning. So let’s lay it all on the table…Why chiropractic during pregnancy?
1. Pelvic Balance
The female pelvis is made up of three major bones: the sacrum (tailbone) and the two iliums (hip bones). These bones, along with their respective joints, muscles and ligaments were designed to allow movement, which is why you are able to walk, run, squat and dance. They also form the pelvic outlet, the space for the baby to pass through upon delivery. Knowing the importance of these bones and the space that they provide, chiropractors assess the pelvis to ensure that the bones are moving properly and in a balanced position. More often than not, people show up to my office with minor misalignments in the pelvis that could impair a smooth delivery. These misalignments could be from past slips and falls or old car accidents, or they can be due to repetitive stress that we put on the pelvic joints, also known as micro-traumas. For example, prolonged sitting can cause stress and dysfunction to the joints, muscles and ligament of the pelvis, thus creating an imbalance in the structure. Through specific adjustments of the pelvis, chiropractors restore balance, which creates more comfort for mom and encourages a smoother labor.
2. Baby Positioning
A female’s uterus is suspended and supported in the body by ligaments. The broad ligament attaches the uterus to the walls and floor of the pelvis while the round ligament is primarily responsible for the angle and position of the uterus during pregnancy. Partly made up of muscle fibers, the round ligaments can quickly lengthen and contract in response to the growing uterus. When there is misalignment of the pelvis, these ligaments can be pulled or contracted creating torsion of the uterus. This intrauterine constraint creates less room for the uterus to move and makes it harder for your baby to get into an optimal position. The psoas muscle also plays a large role in allowing your baby to “settle in” within the uterus. A major hip flexor of the body, your psoas muscle attaches to your lower spine and travels through the front your pelvis attaching to the top of your femur (leg bone). Just like any muscles in the body, the psoas muscle responds to imbalance in the pelvis by contracting on either or both sides. So along with facilitating balance in the pelvis, a chiropractor who is certified in the Webster’s technique will also have a specific way to analyze and address the ligaments and muscles of the pelvis, creating the optimal space for your baby to get into the best position possible.
3. Body Communication
Your body holds a vital communication system that runs and orchestrates every process undergone in the body. It is comprised of your brain, spinal cord and spinal nerves (the nerve system). This system is so valuable that it is the only system in the body that is completely encased by protective bones, your skull and spine. Your body is able to digest food and grow hair without you having to think about it because your nerve system delivers the messages automatically. From hormonal releases to uterine contractions to milk letdown, pregnancy and birth is one of the most important times to make sure that your body’s communication system is functioning at its best. Along with assessing the pelvis, chiropractors assess the rest of your spine throughout pregnancy to simply make sure that there are no misalignments that are impeding the flow of information throughout your nerve system.
From increased comfort and mobility to optimal baby positioning and clear communication within the body, chiropractic care throughout pregnancy has major benefits for mom and baby. Not only is this journey a time for physical, chemical and emotion shifts, but it is also an imperative time for women to seek and receive support. More and more moms-to-be are choosing chiropractic as a natural and holistic way to support themselves throughout this precious process, from beginning to end…and thereafter!
Dr. Morgan Oberstein owns and operates Connection Cafe: A Chiropractic Center in Union City, CA. She is certified in the Webster technique by the ICPA and she specializes in providing prenatal and pediatric care.