At no time in the human experience are there more vital developments than in the periods before, during and after pregnancy. The mother's physiological, psychological, and spiritual state can't be overstated enough in the process that transforms two cells into a trillion of interweaving cells that will ultimately become a beautiful new baby. Being in an optimal “state of being” will allow the mother-to-be the best opportunity for a more comfortable pregnancy and give her new baby the essential ingredients required for an outstanding journey.
When caring for a pregnant woman, the Chiropractor has two main objectives: Structural and Neurological Integrity. The Structural component consists of symmetrical alignment (or as close to it as possible) and proper movement. The Neurological component consists of a free flow of nerve impulses, human electricity, or prana to all cells of the body without interference. Optimal Structural and Neurological integrity leads to an increase in overall physiological & psychological health, which allows for a supreme internal environment for the mother, the growing baby, and the supportive partner.
Creating a more flexible body, especially in the region of the lumbar spine and pelvis, is crucial for a successful pregnancy. Ideally, the mother-to-be's spine should be subluxation-free before conception. A Subluxation is a term used to describe what happens when a spinal bone, or bones, misaligns and causes pressure or irritation to be placed on the nerve exiting between the vertebra. This is detrimental to one's health process because the nervous system is the information super highway that allows for all communication and development to happen. A useful analogy is to think of what a dam does to a river and all the changes it makes to its ecology. With a flexible but stabilized spine the mother-to-be is able to handle the increase in 20-30 lbs that she will be carrying. This is a matter of gravity and biomechanics.
On a neurological level… the body works better with a healthy nerve supply. That means removing any irritation to the nervous system. The irritation can be in the form of traumas, toxins, and negative, stressful thinking. When enough stress builds up the spine will distort much like a fuse in a circuit breaker box gets tripped when too much current is running through it. This is one of the main reasons why an individual will have a “spot” in their body that consistently gets painful when life gets stressful. With a healthy nerve flow to all the tissues of the body, the mother gives herself the greatest opportunity for wellness and vitality. When vitality exists, the environment for conception is ripe much like a garden’s growing potential exists in the health of its soil.
The chiropractor's job is to restore motion in the spine where the tension and distortion has developed, thereby taking pressure off the nerve tissue and allowing for proper nerve transmission. Pre/peri natal yoga classes, support groups, and working with a childbirth practicioner like a doula or midwife are great compliments to undeertaking chiropractic care during this life phase.
Since chiropractic is largely interested in the relationship between the spine and the main energy system, the nervous system, specific chiropractic adjustments to the spine can help the mother overcome a decrease in energy levels due to pregnancy and can assist her in finding comfort due to the increased laxity in her joints from the hormone relaxin.
As the pregnancy advances, breast tissue becomes larger as does the size of the belly. To help ease the changes in the biomechanics, in terms of weight distribution, specific chiropractic adjustments to the distorted and misaligned spine will help the mother-to-be adapt to the increase in stress on her spine and body. By staying out of pain from jammed and compressed joints, emotional volatility and fatigue are reduced.
Another vitally important reason for chiropractic care is due to in-utero constraints. After the 7th month, and throughout the final trimester, any position of the fetus other than a vertical head down position is considered to create constraint to the fetus and make it especially uncomfortable for the mother! The biomechanical constraints on the fetus and the potential for a more challenging labor, or even the need for heroic surgical procedures, all point toward chiropractic care as being not just helpful, but essential. Usually the lumbar spine, pubis and sacroiliac joints are the first to succumb to the increase in weight demands. As the abdominal region extends forward, the center of gravity changes and the mother-to-be is forced to make adaptative changes to her posture. By making sure the pelvis and sacrum are moving freely the mother-to-be will have more freedom to move. By having more freedom she is able to move more often and exercise based on her ability and comfort level. During this phase the chiropractic methods tend to incorporate more sacro-occipital and energy release techniques particularly in the lumbar spine.
The miracle that is the birthing process is challenging. Chiropractic care, sound nutrition, relationship support, and the support of other skilled childbirth and bodywork practicioners can create an experience that is empowering for the mother-to-be. Specific chiropractic adjustments allow the bones to move, the muscles to relax, and the nerve impulses to flow without interference. So try Chiropractic…chances are you'll move better, think better, and feel better!
Dr. Taylor Donovan is committed to the health and well-being of his patients and the larger context of community health. He has had great success working with pregnant women as well as young children.