Symptoms of early pregnancy are mostly limited to nausea and morning sickness; however, as the pregnancy advances weight gain and the expanding uterus press upon the vertebral column and produce characteristic backache and discomfort. Most expecting mommies complain of backache in the later part of the second trimester that worsens as the pregnancy. The primary causes of backache in pregnant mommies are hormone-induced subluxation of pelvic ligaments and joints that aid in the process of labor. In the later part of pregnancy, hormonal influence leads to softening of ligaments and pubic joints to allow the fetal head to pass. Sometimes these hormones also lead to significant softening of vertebral ligaments leading to subluxation and backache. The spine provides basic structural and functional support to the body by gently distributing the body weight across the axial skeleton; however, during pregnancy the entire weight of the body is directed towards the center which disrupts the natural balance of the spine. Also, due to the central location of the uterus, the expansion directly presses upon the vertebrae leading to backache and numbness.
Moderate to severe backache affects the health and well-being of mothers and can interfere with a healthy pregnancy. Moreover, to protect the baby and expectant mother, most experts suggest following only holistic and non-pharmacological interventions for alleviating backache. Most pregnant mothers see chiropractors for either backache or breech position of the baby.
As suggested previously, chiropractic care helps in alleviating backache by strengthening and stabilizing lax vertebral ligaments and realignment of vertebral bodies that decreases pain and pressure across the spine. It also helps the mother to perform better during active labor; thereby decreasing the rate of cesarean sections. Chiropractic realignment also improves the function of nerves thereby decreasing the risk of numbness or sciatica-like issues during pregnancy.
Chiropractic therapy has long been used to helps in rotation of the baby from breech to cephalic position. Currently healthcare providers suggest the Webster technique to expectant mothers (that is a variant of chiropractor therapy) after 32 weeks of pregnancy to rotate breech babies. The efficacy of yhe Webster technique is more than 90%. Richard A. Pistolese suggested that 82% mothers with obstetrical issues improved significantly with Chiropractic therapy alone (the success rate is very high when compared with external cephalic version that is associated with a number of fetal and maternal complications). Due to better realignment of pelvic bones and lumbar vertebrae, the baby will have ample space for growth and development with almost no risk of distress.
Besides above two main indications, chiropractic therapy is safe in all pregnant women. Other potential benefits of chiropractic antenatal care less intense morning sickness symptoms, stabilization and strengthening of pelvic floor muscles greatly help in minimizing the risk of pre-mature or pre-term labor, minimizing the risk of complications during labor like impaction of fetal head or shoulder dystocia and early postpartum recovery and decreased risk of incontinence and other complications after childbirth.
The intensity of therapy is not very intense in pregnant mothers and experienced chiropractors use specialized tables that have adjustable height and surface that is better able to support the back and abdomen of expecting mothers. The therapy aims at realignment of ligaments and adjustment of pelvic and vertebral bones that helps in enlarging the pelvic cavity without causing any discomfort in the lower abdominal or back region. Kent J. Stuber conducted a literature review study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics according to which chiropractic therapy alone helped in resolution of backache issues in 14 of 27 pregnant mothers.
The risk of complications is minimal with chiropractics; however, for best results it is recommended to discuss with your healthcare provider or mid-wife if chiropractics is safe in your case and always seek the services of a professional and certified chiropractor.