Pregnancy is an amazing feat of strength: The body instinctively makes thousands of changes and then restores itself in the amazing process of growing and birthing another life. In physiological terms, we consider pregnancy as an 18-month journey: 9 months of pregnancy and another 9 months of recovery. 

Chiropractic care is a vital support for a woman’s changing body — for strength and stability, for decreasing pain and discomfort, and for overall sense of well-being. 

Beyond helping with the lower-back pain and pelvic pain that almost all pregnant women experience, many mothers tell us that regular adjustments helped them: 

  • Feel healthier 
  • Decrease morning sickness
  • Facilitated shorter labor and delivery times
  • Regain strength and balance in their hips and pelvis

What’s Going on in the Pregnant Body

  • The position of your growing baby will shift your center of gravity, and your spine will naturally alter to accommodate. 
  • Increasing hormones can cause muscles, ligaments, cartilage and even bones to “soften” and become more pliable. 
  • Your hips and pelvis will need to spread to accommodate the delivery of your baby. 
  • Pelvic bones may become displaced or fixated, potentially leading to complications during delivery. 

What to Expect

You’ll probably feel different aches and pains, almost every week. And because taking medications during pregnancy is discouraged, you’ll want to do everything possible to stay healthy and keep discomfort manageable. 

As your pregnancy advances, the stresses on the body escalate. The potential for complications does too — from breech presentation (when the baby doesn’t drop head-first into birthing position) to delivery challenges that increase the likelihood of cesarean delivery (C-section). 

Chiropractic care will address the whole body, as well as the source of your pain, and prepare you for delivery. (Chiropractic methods can also help to turn a baby who’s in the wrong position.) It is gentle, safe and effective. 

The mind-body connection cannot be underestimated: A physical compression or strain in one part of the body causes tightness elsewhere and activates the mind into protection mode. Getting the body back into better alignment helps muscles and nerves calm down, which eases the mind. 

Your chiropractor should be part of your pregnancy care team working alongside your obstetrician or midwife and doula. Ideally, schedule chiropractic visits twice a month for the 2nd trimester. Once you enter the 3rd trimester, you’ll probably want to come every week — much like the frequency of your obstetrician visits.

Pains in 2nd Trimester

At about 12-to-14 weeks into pregnancy, you’ll start to feel the effects of early transitions — some cramping, pains and discomfort. As your abdomen starts to expand you might start to feel Round Ligament Pain, as well as traditional pains that drive patients to seek chiropractic care: low back pain, upper back pain, hip pain and sciatica. 

Every change in one part of your body has an effect on other parts: 

  • Tilting hips and sacrum will affect your leg balance and posture all the way up to your shoulders and neck. 
  • Misaligned pelvic bones cause muscular pain which cause nerve pain; you might feel pressure on the sciatic nerve. 
  • You may simply feel unbalanced as ligaments that stabilize you loosen. 

The body adapts, but the risk of a strain or sprain is also increased.

What is Round Ligament Pain?

Round Ligament Pain is one of the most common pains associated with pregnancy and usually starts flaring up in the second trimester. A certain amount of sharp or stabbing pain is considered a normal part of pregnancy, but this ligament can also be prone to sprain. 

Anatomy lesson: The “Round Ligament” is one of the thick ligaments that surround and support the uterus as it grows. It’s doing a lot of work, connecting the front part of the womb to the spot where your legs and pelvis all connect.

What Does Chiropractic Cranial Work Entail?

Sleep and Sense of Ease

Difficulty sleeping is a common complaint already by the 2nd trimester. There are a lot of physiological causes of sleep discomfort: Stresses on the sacrum and pelvis pull on the spinal cord all the way up to the head. Nerves run from the head down through the body and get compressed. You may be clenching your jaw, and finding it hard to relax. These physical stresses trigger the mind, which then aggravates sleep, mood and mind clarity.

Pains in 3rd Trimester

By the last stretch of your pregnancy, you are likely carrying 25 to 40 pounds of extra weight. Hormones are helping you with some pain management, but the body is making enormous adjustments. 

The goal of the 3rd trimester is to ease the most dramatic changes in the pregnant body, support the baby’s proper position for delivery, and to increase the likelihood for a vaginal birth. 

We see chiropractic care as a significant prevention measure against C-sections or medical interventions, which cause greater stress for both mother and baby — and a much tougher postpartum recovery.

Breech Presentation (and Methods to Turn Breech Baby)

Sometime between 32-34 weeks into pregnancy, the baby should turn into position to be born head-first. Only about 3-5% of pregnancies reach full-term in breech position —  which means the baby is positioned bottom-first and likely will be delivered by a scheduled caesarian section. 

Prior to 38 weeks, an obstetrician or midwife can use a procedure called an ‘external cephalic version’ (EVC) to try to turn a breech baby. There are also chiropractic methods — Logan Basic and Webster Technique — which use gentle muscle release work from the diaphragm to the psoas muscle to the round ligaments. This soft tissue work coupled with aligning the skeletal structure of the lumbar spine and sacrum allows the body to release overly tight muscles and ligaments, giving the baby room to turn. 

Employing this chiropractic approach between 32-38 weeks, we’ve had 80-90% percent success rate. After week 38, it becomes harder but we still have about a 50% success rate. 

If your baby is presenting in breech position, the sooner you receive treatment lowers your risk of a C-section.

Postpartum Pain and Recovery

Recovery starts right after birth, but any mother will say that the road to recovery can be rocky. Here again, chiropractic care can help. For our existing local patients, we make a house visit within the first week or two — sometimes as soon as one-day postpartum to check both mom and baby. 

Your natural hormones will tighten ligaments back up (and also support bonding and breastfeeding). Chiropractic care can help these hormones do their job as you recover from the trauma of birth. Small practices of self care can improve your ability to care for a new life.

For Local Pregnant Women: The Bayside Practice Experience

The pregnant body has an amazing ability to function the way it’s supposed to. We help your body adapt for every stage of pregnancy, birth and postpartum healing. Our goal is to redirect any change that isn’t in support of healthy development and delivery. 

Regular chiropractic care — monthly in the 1st trimester, gradually escalating to weekly in the 3rd trimester — can help you stay ahead of the changes to come, and support the body’s natural means of accommodating. 

Our chiropractic doctors coordinate care with your obstetrician and midwife and doula to manage pain, prepare you for labor, and feel your best through your pregnancy. 

If you’re based in Rhode Island or Southern Massachusetts, call our office to make an appointment, and stay strong and healthy through your pregnancy!