Being pregnant this time around, I have found myself healthier and more active than any of my previous pregnancies. From walking to working out at the gym, I have maintained my weight and have continued eating very healthy. I am even training for a walking half marathon.
But, with the increased mileage has come some no-so-pleasant strains and pains. One of those pains being pelvic and back pain. It started when I was out walking with some friends. I had some issues with my pelvis feeling “out of place” with my last baby, but I thought that with the increased exercise I would be ok this time around. I was wrong.
What started as a little ache soon became an irritating “clicking” noise from inside my pelvis. The “clicking” soon became very painful. Having had a similar experience with my last baby, I knew that it was time to take matters into my own hands and call a Chiropractor.
Back pain is a very common complaint among women during pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association reports that between 50-70% of pregnant women report low back pain at some point during their pregnancies. If you have never sought chiropractic care, you may feel anxious or unsure about seeking their advice during pregnancy, but you need not be. Continue reading to learn more about chiropractic care and pain during pregnancy.
Why Do I Have Back Pain?
During pregnancy, many mechanical, postural, and hormonal changes are occurring within your body as your baby grows including:
Mechanical and postural changes
- As your center of gravity moves backward to accommodate your growing uterus, mechanical stresses are placed on your joints, muscles, and ligaments.
- Typical pregnancy weight gain can add increased overall stress to your joints and muscles.
- Your lower back muscles have to work harder to counterbalance your growing belly.
- The curve in your low back (lumbar curve) often increases which squeezes the low back joints and the sacroiliac (SI) joints closer together causing joint irritation.
- The large, triangular bone at the base of the spine (sacrum) begins to tilt forward at its base causing increased strain on the lower back.
- The increase in your breast size can cause mid-back pain as your muscles and joints try to compensate for the increased weight.
- You may begin to adopt a wider based of support during walking which can affect the joint position of your ankles, knees, and hips causing joint, muscle, or ligament soreness.
- Muscle tension and water retention can cause pressure on your nerves due causing you upper or lower limbs to feel tingly or numb.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the biomechanics of your spine and peripheral joints
- The hormone, relaxin, is released during pregnancy which helps to soften and elongate your ligaments and other connective tissues in preparation for delivery. This leads to increased joint motion and, sometimes, joint irritation.
How Can Chiropractic Care Help Me?
By performing a thorough history and physical examination, a chiropractor can find specific problem areas in your spine and surrounding joints that may be causing you pain. Chiropractic adjustments can help to restore the proper motion and alignment of your joints. Your chiropractor may give you specific exercises to help improve your posture to help stretch tight muscles and strengthen weaker muscles.
Additionally, a chiropractor can assist you in balancing your nervous system to allow your body to heal properly. Most pregnant women who seek chiropractic care report relief of symptoms and improved mood and sleep.
Is Chiropractic Care Safe During Pregnancy?
Chiropractic care is very safe for both you and developing baby. It is a natural, non-invasive form of medical care. Chiropractors are also trained to spot signs and symptoms associated with high-risk pregnancy.
Other Ways to Get Relief and Stay Healthy
Pain relief. In addition to chiropractic care, massage and acupuncture have been shown to be successful for pregnancy related pain.
Activity. Maintaining your physical fitness during pregnancy through exercise is a great way to promote better health and ensure fewer pregnancy-related complications. Regular cardiovascular exercise like—walking, swimming, and dancing—leads to less pain, less stress, improved sleep, fewer delivery complications and better birth outcomes for you and your baby. Exercise also reduces the risk for gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related high blood pressure which is not safe for you or your baby.
Diet. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is also important. Getting the proper nutrients ensures that your baby has the necessary building blocks for healthy development, and you are healthy too.
After you deliver your baby, you may find that your back pain resolves. However, your new daily activities like lifting the baby, bending down, and breastfeeding may result in new mechanical issues and pain. You may choose to continue with chiropractic care during this phase to guarantee optimum joint mechanics and overall wellness.