Many expectant mothers might adopt a "grin and bear it, it's only nine months" attitude as they cope with the aches and discomforts of pregnancy. But according to the American Pregnancy Association, regular chiropractic adjustments can provide safe and effective relief for strained muscles and joints that are literally pulled in new directions by the developing baby. While generally considered safe during all phases of pregnancy, women should check with their health care provider prior to beginning chiropractic treatment.
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During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin, which loosens ligaments that support the pelvis. This loosened state allows the pelvis to widen so the baby can pass through the birth canal. However, it also loosens the overall structure of the body, allowing misalignment in the bones of the spine, resulting in muscle spasms and nerve sensitivity. According to Dr. Stacey Jones, who specializes in caring for expectant mothers, chiropractic adjustments during the first trimester and beyond can restore these subluxations and help maintain a strong, balanced spine throughout the pregnancy. A balanced spine can help the body make natural adjustments as weight is gained and lessen feelings of nausea, headaches and fatigue.
Women can receive regular chiropractic care during their first three months of pregnancy, much like any other patient. Since the developing fetus is still very small, and the mother is not "showing", lying face down on the table will not hurt the baby. In successive terms, the chiropractor will make accommodations for the increased size of the belly. Practitioners also use gentle pressure when making adjustments. The same ligament-loosening hormones that cause the misalignments also make it easier to manipulate subluxations back into place.
Whether continuing care from pre-pregnancy or just beginning treatments, mothers should immediately tell their chiropractor they are expecting, so that certain procedures can be avoided. Dr. Allen Manison, a practitioner in Columbia, Maryland, advises against the use of X-rays to diagnosis any spinal conditions, to avoid harming the developing fetus. Additionally, he does not use certain therapies such as electrical muscle stimulation which could cause premature uterine contractions.
Finding a Chiropractor
All chiropractors are trained to work with pregnant women, but some may have a pediatric certification, which means they have received advanced training in caring for infants, children and expectant mothers. Some chiropractors may be certified in the Webster Technique, a pelvic adjustment that helps a breech baby to naturally turn to a correct position. Finding a chiropractic doctor who is sensitiive to the special needs of expectant mothers during the first trimester will increase the benefits of chiropractic care throughout pregnancy.