My back hurts. O my! This groin pain is barely manageable. I can’t handle this sciatica but everyone says it’s normal during pregnancy to experience this. Does any of this sound familiar? Aches and pains are not a normal part of the pregnancy experience, but unfortunately they are very common. Read on to learn how chiropractic care can help you manage all of these discomforts and more.
Chiropractors are trained to work with subluxations of the joints of the body. What is a subluxation? The central nervous system is the master controller of all our body’s systems. The brain sends messages down the spinal cord and out via the nerves to our muscles, organs and glands. If just one vertebra is even slightly out of alignment it can cause nerve interference. This out of place vertebra is considered a vertebral subluxation and may manifest itself as a symptom of discomfort or pain.
Causes of Subluxation
There are three primary causes of subluxation: physical, emotional and chemical. Typically, with the pregnant woman, the physical cause of subluxation is the result of increased levels of the hormone, Relaxin, during the first and second trimester, which causes the joints, muscles and ligaments to become more supple. This results in changes to the body, including the center of gravity shifting, which may cause a resultant subluxation.
Additionally, pregnancy causes drastic changes in other hormone levels such as progesterone, which may result in changes in normal behavior, mood swings or other emotional responses. The first, and more common, emotional cause of a subluxation is that the body tends to respond physically to stress with breathing and heartbeat quickening, blood pressure rising and muscles in the neck and back tensing. This can easily cause a subluxation.
The second, and lesser-known cause of subluxation is due to the flood of hormones that happen when we have an emotional response. Epinephrine and adrenaline increase, preparing the body for a fight or flight response. When we have this rush of hormones and then don’t run away from or fight off the perceived danger, these hormones have flooded our body with no release.
The final, possible cause of subluxation during pregnancy is chemical. Statistically, more than 90% of women take prescription drugs, over-the-counter chemicals, etc. during pregnancy.
An estimated half of all pregnant women consume medications despite the fact that there is almost nothing known about most drugs’ safety during pregnancy. More than half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so millions of women use medications because they were not planning to become pregnant. It is estimated that more than 1 million babies, in the United States and Canada, are exposed to drugs in the first or second month of pregnancy, according to Dr. Gideon Koren, a Toronto-based researcher.
The Six Silent Signs of Subluxation
These physical, emotional and chemical stressors during pregnancy may result in subluxations which manifest themselves in different symptoms or signs.
- Headaches – Statistically, at least 39% of pregnant women struggle with headaches as they are typically caused by hormonal changes, allergies or sinus congestion, exhaustion or fatigue, eye strain or tension, queasiness or increased hunger, being overheated, dehydrated or bloated in the 3rd trimester.
- Low Back Pain, Symphysis Pubis Pain & Pelvic Floor Issues – Each of these are typically the result of postural changes created by weight or hormonal fluctuations.
- For low back pain, WebMD suggests exercise, cold compresses, improved posture, and chiropractic care. Symphysis pubis pain or dysfunction is typically caused by an increase in the hormone, Relaxin, which can make the pelvic joint unstable, creating pelvic pain.
- Symphysis pubis dysfunction is typically diagnosed in about 1 in 300 pregnancies, although some experts say it’s probably 25% of all women.
- Pelvic floor dysfunction or disorder occurs when this particular group of muscles become weakened or damaged. Studies have shown that certain obstetrical procedures may be more traumatic to the pelvic floor, particularly forceps delivery or a prolonged “pushing” stage of labor. For women in labor, being able to contract or relax the pelvic floor is vitally important to allow the baby to move through the birth canal, especially when crowing. Since the pelvic and sacrum are the base of the spine and connected to the pelvic floor, subluxations will have an adverse effect on delivery. Research has demonstrated that adjusting pregnant women appears to relax the pelvic floor muscles, which may result in less medical interventions during delivery.
- Nausea and Vomiting – Most commonly recognized as “morning sickness” that is experienced between the 4th and 16th week of pregnancy, about 10% of all women will still experience this after the 20th week of pregnancy. It is most likely caused by hormonal changes which some typical triggers being certain smells or odors, spicy foods or excessive heat or salivation. Your Family Wellness Chiropractor will look for a specific subluxation to your spine and would suggest avoiding caffeine, only eating 6 small meals a day or sipping ginger tea as these have shown to relieve some of the symptoms.
- Digestion and Elimination – Very common during pregnancy, digestion and elimination symptoms typically include: indigestion, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Indigestion is very common in pregnancy with over 80% of pregnant women reporting it in some form. In early pregnancy, high levels of progesterone and estrogen may be relaxing the stomach sphincter resulting in indigestion and heartburn. In the later months of pregnancy, it may be that the baby is pushing against the stomach.Some home remedies that have shown to be successful in relieving this discomfort including: chewing papaya enzyme after a meal or Bromelain. Talk with your Family Wellness Chiropractor about other recommendations. As for constipation or diarrhea, a subluxation in your lower back could be affecting your body’s ability to properly eliminate waste. Besides your regular chiropractic care, consider making sure that you’re drinking enough water, getting enough fiber in your diet, avoiding refined foods, consider a probiotic or talk with your Family Wellness Chiropractor about any supplements that may help.
- Fatigue – This is extremely common during pregnancy and very pronounced in the 1st and 3rd trimester as the body is working hard to build the placenta, deal with hormone changes, increasing the blood supply and maintaining healthy levels as metabolism and heart rate increase while blood sugar and pressure decrease. It is recommended to stay hydrated, eat well, rest well, stay active and get adjusted during this process in order to support your body in this important endeavor.
- Fetal Malposition – It has been reported that 3 to 4% of all babies are breech. There are actually several different positions that fall under the category of “breech”. According to most obstetricians, the causes typically include uterine abnormalities, the location of the placenta, the volume of amniotic fluid, fetal abnormal-ities, or multiple pregnancies. However, the Family Wellness Chiropractor has found that a sacrum subluxation may be creating in-utero constraint and not allowing the fetus to get into the right position.
Your Family Wellness Chiropractor is specially trained to care for preconception, prenatal and postnatal patients with subluxations. Many women report back that chiropractic care at all stages of their pregnancy has helped them benefit from a more quality labor and delivery. Interested in learning more? Be sure to call to schedule a consultation today @ 720.788.8938 or visit Dr. Elyssa’s website at: www.BodyandBalanceChiropractic.com