Pregnant, or Planning-to-Be?
A well-functioning body is essential for growing a new life. We know this. We also know that eating a healthy diet is important, as is maintaining some level of exercise throughout pregnancy.
Have you ever wondered how your spine and brain function may also impact on your pregnancy and birth?
Chiropractic care is about improving your spinal function to help optimize your brain function. Improving spinal function also includes looking at your pelvis, and your pelvic floor. Anything that causes change in spinal function can, in turn, contribute to poorer feedback systems. Can you say ‘modern day lifestyle’?!
Poor posture, ‘tech neck’, sitting in an office all day- these can all lead to pelvic fixation, causing tightening or torsion of specific pelvic muscles and ligaments. These tense muscles and ligaments and their constraining effect on the uterus can prevent a baby from comfortably assuming the best possible position for birth, potentially making it more difficult for the mother to give birth.
Director of Research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic’s Research Centre, Dr Heidi Haavik explains:
`The female pelvic floor muscles are very much controlled at a subconscious level by the brain. If these muscles do not function in an ideal manner this can have severe consequences to a woman’s ability to give birth naturally. Abnormal pelvic floor muscle function is also linked with conditions such as stress urinary incontinence, which can cause great suffering for women.’
Altered weight bearing and movement patterns during pregnancy can place additional pressure on the muscles, ligaments, joints, discs and bones of a woman’s spine and can uncover regions that are not working well. 50% of women experience significant levels of back or pelvic pain during their pregnancy leading many of them to resort to pain relief such as paracetamol. But research shows that chiropractic care may help to relieve these symptoms in up to 85% of pregnant women.(3,4)
These discoveries may be all the more relevant now that common pain relief such as paracetamol has been shown to have detrimental effects on unborn children.(1)
Dr Haavik adds: ‘We know that women experience on average a 24% reduction in the length of labour time with chiropractic care during pregnancy and that rises to a 33% reduction for those mothers who have given birth before. By altering the biomechanics and neuromuscular control of the pelvis we are likely enabling the muscles to become more relaxed and joints more mobile which probably helps them to expand more freely during labour and settle more easily afterwards.’
This improves the ease of delivery, creating less stress and pressure for both the mother and baby. This also means there is less likelihood or need to use interventions such as forceps or cesarean section which can impact upon both mother and newborn child. C-sections have become increasingly common over the last few decades, and now account for as many as one in four births. While they are a necessary and safe option in some high-risk or complicated cases, studies show that natural and drug-free births are safer and healthier in both the short and long term. (3-7)
3 Back pain during pregnancy and labor. Diakow, PRP, Gadsby, TA, Gadsby JB et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther Vol. 14, No. 2 Feb. 1991.
5 The effects of chiropractic treatment on pregnancy and labor: a comprehensive study. Fallon J. Proceedings of the world chiropractic congress. 1991; 24-31.
Some content from NZCA Media Release 7/10/14