Most people assume that pregnancy and back pain go hand in hand. But what if those aches aren't an inevitable part of bringing a tiny human into the world? What if that low back pain or hip discomfort is actually the result of an alignment issue that just needs the right adjustment? You know where this is heading — should you see a chiropractor during pregnancy?
People find relief for a variety of maladies — from headaches to knee pain — by paying a visit to the chiropractor. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), chiropractic care is both an art and a science, involving bringing your joints and spinal column back into proper alignment. The APA considers prenatal visits to the chiropractor perfectly safe, and noted that some chiropractors even specialize in pregnancy or postnatal care. According to a review of multiple studies published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, chiropractic care during pregnancy is deemed safe and effective, but research remains scarce. As more people visit the chiropractor, researchers will likely learn more about how it can be used to help facilitate a comfortable, healthy pregnancy.
Every woman who's ever been pregnant knows that as your belly grows, your body aches. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended that most women gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, and all that weight has to land somewhere. Often, weight re-distribution leads to spinal compression and increased stress on your joints, noted an article in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Your posture changes, and to make matters worse, hormones like relaxin cause hypermobility, especially in the pelvis. In my own opinion, pregnancy is the time to give your musculoskeletal system some special attention, and there are different ways to meet your body's needs. You can visit a chiropractor, practice yoga or pilates, or receive regular prenatal massages to stave off discomfort.
As for labor itself? It's pretty hard on the body, to say the least. According to a study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy might actually make your labor easier, namely because regular adjustment may reduce the incidence of back labor (I experienced back labor, and can attest that it was the worst — although to be fair, I don't have anything to compare it to).
One specific type of adjustment may have special utility during pregnancy. According to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), the Webster technique may help a breech baby turn, thus facilitating vaginal birth. Though the technique has been in use a long time, the ICPA is currently in the process of conducting more research on it.
If you're considering seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy, make sure they're properly licensed. To find a chiropractor who specializes in conditions related to pregnancy, visit ICPA4kids.org. Your body will thank you.