Pregnancy is an amazing feat of strength and endurance.
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 at least 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 low 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
- Experience 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 shifts your center of gravity, and your spine naturally alters itself to accommodate.
- Your increasing hormones cause muscles, ligaments, cartilage and even bones to “soften” and become more pliable.
- Your hips and pelvis begin to spread to accommodate the upcoming delivery of your baby.
- Your pelvic bones may become displaced or fixated, potentially leading to pain and complications during delivery.
What To Expect
Most women feel different aches and pains, almost every week, and because taking medications during pregnancy is discouraged, you will want to do everything possible to stay healthy and manage your discomfort.
As 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 other delivery challenges that increase the likelihood of cesarean delivery (C-section).
Chiropractic care addresses the whole body, including the true source of your pain, in order to prepare you for delivery. Our chiropractic methods can also help a baby to position itself properly for delivery. 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 into better alignment helps muscles and nerves calm down, so that you can be in a positive mindset for delivery and beyond.
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, weekly appointments are highly recommended — much like the frequency of your obstetrician visits.
Pains in 2nd Trimester
At about 12-to-14 weeks into pregnancy, the effects of early transitions start to be apparent — usually 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, like low back pain, upper back or neck pain, hip pain or sciatica. (Read more about sciatic pain during pregnancy.)
Every change in one part of your body has an effect on other parts:
- Forward tilting hips and sacrum can affect your leg balance and posture all the way up to your shoulders and neck.
- Misaligned pelvic bones cause muscular pain which causes nerve pain; you might feel pressure on the sciatic nerve (down in the back of your leg).
- You may simply feel unbalanced as ligaments that usually stabilize you loosen.
The body adapts, but the risk of a strain or sprain also increases.
What is Round Ligament Pain?
Round ligament pain is one of the most common pains associated with pregnancy. It 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 is doing a lot of work, connecting the front part of the womb to the spot where your legs and pelvis all connect – quite literally holding your entire body together. Read more about round ligament pain.
Sleep and Sense of Ease
Difficulty sleeping is a common complaint beginning in 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, aggravating your sleep, mood and thoughts.
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 treatment goals of the 3rd trimester are 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 preventative measure against C-sections or medical interventions, which cause greater stress for both mother and baby — and a much tougher postpartum recovery.
Sometime between 32-34 weeks into pregnancy, most babies turn into position to be born head-first. Only about 3-5% of pregnancies reach full-term in breech position (in which the baby is positioned bottom-first and will likely be delivered by a scheduled C-section).
Prior to 38 weeks, an obstetrician or midwife can use a procedure called an ‘external cephalic version’ (ECV) to attempt to turn a breech baby head-down. 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 mother’s body to release overly tight muscles and ligaments, giving the baby room to turn on its own.
We have an 80-90% success rate when employing this chiropractic approach between 32-38 weeks. 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 gentle chiropractic treatment, the lower your risk of a C-section.
Postpartum Pain and Recovery
Recovery starts right after birth, but most mothers say that the road to recovery can be rocky. Here again, chiropractic care can help. For our existing local patients, we often make a house visit within the first week or two to check both mom and baby.
Your natural hormones tighten ligaments back up (and also support bonding and breastfeeding). Chiropractic care can help these hormones to do their job as you recover from the trauma of birth. Small self-care practices can improve your ability to care for your new baby.
For Local Pregnant Women
The Bayside Chiropractic Experience
Your pregnant body has an amazing ability to function the way it’s supposed to. We help your body to adapt for every stage of pregnancy, birth and postpartum healing. Our goal is to direct change 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 or midwife and doula to manage pain, prepare you for labor, and feel your best all through your pregnancy.
If you’re based in Rhode Island or Southeastern Massachusetts, call our office to make an appointment. Let us help you stay strong and healthy throughout your pregnancy!
Medically reviewed by:
Paul J. O’Brien Jr, DC
Bayside Chiropractic, PC
Located in Southeastern Massachusetts, near Providence, Rhode Island
Call our office to make an appointment and start improving your well-being today.
Meet Our Doctors
Find more information about our team here.
Monday : 8:30A – 12P & 2P – 5:30P
Tuesday : 9A – 1P & 3P – 7P
Wednesday : 11A – 6P
Thursday : 9A – 1P & 3P – 7P
Friday : 9A – 1P & 2P – 5P