Carrying a baby through the nine-month gestation period does have an effect on the body. The mother-to-be can gain up to 25 to 40 pounds which adds pressure on the joints and spine as the baby grows. The woman’s centre of gravity changes and begins to move forward which increases the curvature of the lower back. Additionally, extra pressure is put on the discs in the spine and the curvature of the upper spine, which is the area between the neck and shoulder blades.
Often once the baby is delivered, it is common for women to experience pain in the upper shoulders as their posture gets back to its usual position.
So how can chiropractic care help post pregnancy?
Getting the pelvis back into realignment
First of all, it is important to understand how chiropractic care works. This is a treatment that looks at working with the individual to help get the body back into realignment. This gentle form of manipulation helps minimise tension in the joints and muscles, providing a safe form of pain relief. During pregnancy, a hormone is produced which allows ligaments in the body to relax and aid in a successful delivery. After childbirth, the ligaments return to their normal elasticity and the mother’s spine and pelvis will not be in good realignment.
As the baby descends during childbirth in the birth canal, it is possible for the bones of the pelvis to move to allow safe passage for the baby. The pelvic area then becomes misaligned, and this may happen particularly during posterior deliveries (i.e. not head first). Post pregnancy chiropractic care can restore balance and comfort to the new mother through gentle manipulation of the pelvic bones.
Restores the normal biometrics of the body
The mother has spent up to nine months with the new baby growing inside her, putting gradual pressure on the back, joints, pushing up against the stomach and other organs as the foetus grows. The stance of a pregnant woman changes, and she will most likely walk differently as her centre of gravity alters as well. Post pregnancy, if the normal biomechanics of the body are not restored, it can lead to permanent health problems. Around 8 weeks after the birth, the ligaments are starting to tighten up and return to their pre-baby elasticity. This time line can alter with different women but prior to the ligaments tightening up completely, it is important to make an appointment to see a chiropractor. The joints have to be properly aligned otherwise tightening ligaments can cause problems.
Pain relief and muscle tension
Some women, particularly women who give birth to their first baby, may experience sharp pain and discomfort in the neck and shoulder blades once the child is safely delivered. Chiropractic adjustments can help speed up the body’s recovery time, and correct the posture if these adjustments can be done within the first 2 to 3 weeks after giving birth.
Tight muscles around the neck and shoulders can give rise to headaches. This is the last thing any new mother wants when coping with sleepless nights attending to the demands of their baby. The new parent spends a lot of time lifting and carrying their infant as they put them in their crib, or pick them up to feed and change them. Chiropractic care will help to address pain in the wrist and elbow, shoulder problems, neck discomfort, sciatica and back pain.
Healthy spine promotes faster healing
As any woman knows, going through childbirth is a fairly tough and traumatic occurrence which the body is designed to cope with. However, it does take time to get the body back into working order. There will be a number of healing processes going on, and having a healthy spine is part of this healing process. The spinal column is linked to the body’s central nervous system. The bundle of nerves that run through the spinal cord is the way in which messages come from the brain to the rest of the body. When this is working properly, the body is able to begin the healing process that is vital for the post-natal mother.
Having a healthy spine allows for effective communication between brain and other functions in the body. Working with a chiropractor to ensure the spine is properly aligned and healthy means this enhanced function will give the body the boost it needs in order to heal itself. A healthy spine also means that the body heals without wasting energy and drawing on reserves from other parts of the human form that are working overtime as the mother feeds and cares for her newborn infant.
Chiropractic care is about holistic care and advice as well. A chiropractor can review the diet of the new mother as well as the overall lifestyle and recommend some exercises or dietary changes to help them bounce back into shape. It can be very easy as a new mother to focus on the child and forgetting to take good care of herself. In order to give the very best start in life to that child, the parent has to be fit, healthy and well. Planning your chiropractic care from start to finish (including post-natal) of the pregnancy will help to protect everyone’s well-being.
Dr. Clarence Ho is a chiropractor, and owner of Adaptive Chiropractic and Adaptive Myotherapy in Melbourne, Australia. He has been working with patients from all walks of life with various issues, this includes caring for post-pregnancy women. He has successfully helped many of his patients achieve a more optimum level of health through chiropractic care.