Why would I visit a chiropractor whilst pregnant?
It is estimated that around 1 in 5 women experience pain during pregnancy or post-partum (in our experience the actual figures are much higher).
The technical term for most back pain experienced by pregnant women is Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP / formerly Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction or SPD). It is defined as a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by a misalignment or stiffness of your pelvic joints at either the back or front of your pelvis. Pain or stiffness can be felt at the pubic joint at the front of your pelvis, lower back or in the perineal area.
However, even without any pain, many women in a modern society have to lead lifestyles that are not conducive to a happy spine and pelvis during pregnancy.
Many hours driving, sitting at a desk and inactivity can lead to imbalances in the mother’s body. Helping
Changes in the pelvis during pregnancy
To understand how problems develop we must first look at pelvic anatomy. The pelvis is made up of 2 large C-shaped bones, which connect together forming 2 large joints at the back and a smaller joint at the front.
These joints are held together by a complex system of muscles and ligaments, which stabilise the pelvis and facilitate all lower body movements. The muscles around your buttocks are your pelvic stabilising muscles, and the muscles underneath your pelvis between your legs are known as your pelvic floor muscles.
During pregnancy the changes in weight distribution combined with the increase of the hormone relaxin (a hormone which loosens joints and muscles to prepare for baby and birth) cause many women’s pelvises to become mis-aligned, and sometimes painful. If you imagine the 2 sides of your pelvis to be like a train track (symmetry is essential!) if one side is askew then the muscles, ligaments and nerves cannot function correctly, resulting in stiffness and discomfort.
What should you do if you have pain during pregnancy?
Firstly – We must state loudly that PAIN IS NOT A NORMAL PART OF PREGNANCY. You do not have to suffer in silence and just “deal with it”. There are many things that can be done to help.
You might want to try stretching out your hip muscles – bump permitting – and that might alleviate some of the discomfort. But for the majority of women the problem is more complicated. As chiropractors we are trained to assess how the pelvis is aligned and we use gentle techniques to correct it.
Our chiropractors are trained in many different techniques which are designed to gently help the pelvis to adjust to pregnancy. Most of these techniques involve working on the pelvic and sacral ligaments and muscles; designed to reduce the effects of pelvic joint dysfunction. In so doing neuro-biomechanical function in the pelvis is improved. Studies have shown a significant improvement in pain levels and disability in pregnant patients when receiving chiropractic care over conventional medical care. (1, 2)
It is also very important for optimal foetal positioning to have balance between the two sides of the pelvis. In the later stages of pregnancy, a growing baby should be head down, with the back of her head facing the mother’s left side of her pelvis. If the muscles and/or ligaments on one side of the pelvis are tighter than the other, the baby may not have sufficient space to get into the correct position for birth. It is thought that this could contribute to longer, more uncomfortable labour for mothers. Current research also shows that chiropractic care helps to relax pelvic floor muscles, another important consideration in foetal positioning and labour. (3)
It has also been reported that when a mother sought chiropractic care and her baby was in a breech position, the restoration of pelvic neuro-biomechanics with this adjustment also frequently facilitated optimal foetal positioning. There are cases published in the chiropractic literature that support this theory. (4) More research is needed and is currently underway within the chiropractic profession.
For that reason we strongly recommend pregnant mothers get themselves assessed by a chiropractor, even more urgently should their baby be in a breech position.
Surveys show that most pregnant women are satisfied with the care they receive from chiropractors.(5) Chiropractors use gentle, low-force spinal adjustments when working with pregnant women or other sensitive patients, like the elderly or infants.
We are fully equipped to deal with growing bumps, we have a purpose built cushion that allows mum to lie on her tummy safely.
It is NEVER too early or too late through your pregnancy to be assessed and begin treatment.
If you would like your pelvic alignment to be checked during your pregnancy, call our lovely ladies on 01330 824040 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Diakow PR, Gadsby TA, Gadsby JB, Gleddie JG, Leprich DJ, Scales AM. Back pain during pregnancy and labor. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1991;14(2):116-118.
2. Murphy DR, Hurwitz EL, McGovern EE. Outcome of pregnancy-related lumbopelvic pain treated according to a diagnosis-based decision rule: a prospective observational cohort study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2009;32:616-24.
3. Haavik H, Murphy BA, Kruger J. Effect of Spinal Manipulation on Pelvic Floor Functional Changes in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women: A Preliminary Study. Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2016 Jun;39(5):339-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.04.004. Epub 2016 May 6.
4. Pistolese R.A. The Webster Technique: a chiropractic technique with obstetric implications. J Manip Physiol Ther. 2002;25(6):e1–e9.
5. Peterson CK, et al. Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, medium term and 1 year follow-up. Chiropractic and Manual Therapies 2014;22(1):15.