True confessions: your mild-mannered chiropractor is a huge theater nerd. I’m talking the entirety of high school and college on stage, “Mom, I’m moving to New York to be a Broadway star”, living-wages-be-damned-because-it’s-for-my-art” kind of theater nerd. As such, I’ve done my fair share of improvising on stage and off. To warm up, you are told to act like something stereotypical. Let’s say for or purposes here, our instructor tells us “Ok, give me your best pregnant woman…”
The mommy waddle. We’ve all seen it. You swore you wouldn’t do it. And now here you are looking like a scene out every stereotyped pregnancy movie you’ve ever watched. The swayback, the hand on the low back, the exasperated sigh every time you have to get up (which is often, because the little beast has taken up permanent residence on top of your bladder these days). How did we get here? And more importantly – can we escape?
We take it for granted that pregnancy should cause lower back pain. It’s just expected. But the first step (no pun intended) to solving a problem, is figuring out why it’s happening in the first place. As your tiny human grows and gets bigger, it adds more weight to the front of the body. To stop you from toppling over, the curve in the low back increases to try and shift your center of gravity to where you can stay upright. This change in biomechanics can often wreak havoc on the muscles and joints in the low back. It may seem like there’s nothing to be done about this. But enter the chiropractic adjustment, stage left!
Chiropractic is king when it comes to managing low back pain. By normalizing the movement of the vertebrae in the area, we are able to reduce inflammation that irritates the pain receptive nerves nearby. Reduced aggravation to the nervous systems and bones that are positioned in a way that optimizes their function means a much happier pregnant mom!
But, Is It Safe?
Pregnant women are often treated like they might break at any second. But they are much stronger than they are given credit for; I mean you are about to birth that tiny human, which is one of the most intensive things you will ever do! And as for baby, they are the safest they will ever be, nestled inside plenty of cushioning between the amniotic sac, uterus, and mom. Still, a chiropractic adjustment can look a little bit aggressive at first glance…
At our office, we like to use pregnancy to our advantage when adjusting. Mom has plenty of hormones floating around that increase joint mobility. That means a lot less force is needed to move a bone where it belongs. Plus, we have a variety of gentle adjusting techniques that are just as effective as moving the bone by hand while putting mom (and her family at ease). Best of all, we have tables and pillows that allow for mom to lay face down without putting pressure on her belly – something she probably hasn’t managed for a long time!
There is no more important time to have all of your muscles and bones and nerves all coordinating with one another than during the end of pregnancy. You need to be working as efficiently as possible when it comes to expending energy so that you have as much strength and endurance as possible when it comes time to bring your little munchkin into the world. Chiropractic can help you to do that!
It Kind of Hurts to Grow a Human
I have a lot of moms come to see me when they are in pain – be it from their hips, their low back, their legs, their ribs, or just about any other body part you can name. I usually follow up their list of complaints with a “Boy, they are lucky they’re cute when they’re born.” Given all of the things they put your body through, you deserve nice Mother’s Day gifts for the rest of your life.
You see, when the little nugget is growing, it’s a full-body process. Hormones are released to soften the joints of the body so that they can expand to accommodate and eventually birth this 6-10 pound bundle of joy. Make no mistake: this is a good thing – you’ll want every centimeter you can get. But leading up to the pregnancy, loosened ligaments allow for hypermobility in the joints. This increased motion can result in the bones sliding out of alignment and causing inflammation to gather in that area. That inflammation crowds the joints and puts pressure on pain receptors. Meanwhile, the muscles in the area are now working overtime to try and stabilize the spots where the ligaments have become lax. Now they’re angry and tired and you’re feeling the pain from that, too!
Most people notice these issues in similar places. Pain in the butt (literally, and figuratively) and low back is a big complaint. It’s usually a deep aching, but some women describe it as burning or stabbing. A lucky group get irritation of the sciatic nerve allowing that pain, sometimes accompanied by numbness) to drop all the way down the leg. Couple this with sharp pain at the pubic bone, especially with rolling over, and rib pain as the cage expands fit a growing uterus and it’s enough to have you wondering how the human race ever made it this far without going extinct.
It Kind of Doesn’t Have to Hurt to Grow a Human
Those same moms that crawled in to see me at 24 weeks are the ones at 38 weeks saying “I feel awesome, aside from the fact that I can’t see my feet. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this sooner?” Well consider this my telling you sooner. Chiropractic care can help you keep up and moving and feeling good (yes, I did say good) during your whole pregnancy. You were made to do this! Women have been giving birth for generations – those other generations just didn’t have to sit in cars and at desks all day in terrible chairs and awkward postures. A chiropractor can help you to manage the everyday assaults on your spine so that you can be feeling you best leading right into the delivery room.
And then we’ll be here on the other side when baby making his grand entrance has you finding yourself playing a whole new stereotype: The New Mom.
To find a chiropractor in your area that has additional training and experience working with pregnant women, please visit the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association’s website at www.icpa4kids.org.
If you’re in the Baltimore area, do get in touch with us over here at First Step Chiropractic. We’d love to help you out of that waddle!