It’s a simple fact that pregnancy and childbirth are two of the most drastic changes the human body has to endure in its lifetime. The added weight you take on for nine months, not to mention the many chemical, physiological, and bio-mechanical transformations that take place put a massive amount of stress on bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and practically every organ in the body.
If you could only see a chiropractor one time in your life, that time would be after you give birth to a child. Women’s bodies are put to the ultimate “stress test” during and after pregnancy. Neglecting to seek postpartum chiropractic care can mean the difference between a vibrant, healthy recovery and a long, slow one.
At Spinal Health and Wellness, we get dozens of questions from our regular patients and prospective ones who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Most often they ask us about the following topics:
- Are birth contractions harmful to the body’s general health?
- Should I have a chiropractic adjustment immediately after giving birth?
- What happens to ligaments and muscle tissue during pregnancy?
- Does pregnancy and the process of giving birth necessarily throw the body out of alignment?
That’s just a representative sample of what our new and long-time clients ask about. If you are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or recently gave birth, there are some things to know about chiropractic treatment and how it can help you navigate the trials and tribulations of childbirth.
It’s not possible to answer every possible question in general terms because each person is different. But, if you want an overall summary of key points about the benefits of chiropractic care after pregnancy, consider the following points:
- One of the big hormonal changes that takes place during pregnancy is the release of a substance called relaxin into your bloodstream. Its primary purpose to cause the ligaments to fully relax and allow for the widening of the hips so that the baby can pass through the birth canal. The hormone is secreted by the placenta and directly leads to the dilation of the cervix. This hormone, while extremely helpful, causes massive changes to the structure and function of several anatomical structures. After you have a successful delivery, a chiropractic adjustment can help bring the body back to its natural state safely and effectively.
- After delivery, these helpful hormones disappear but your anatomical structure, particularly your pelvis and spine, are typically out of alignment. Plus, all those ligaments that were temporarily relaxed are not back to their normal, stiffer state of being. This situation is one reason so many women suffer from debilitating pain for several weeks after giving birth.
- Added to the burden of a misaligned spine and pelvis, you’ll have a new baby to care for. While a wonderful thing in and of itself, this new addition to your family will mean you are up at all hours of the night for feedings, bending down into the crib multiple times per day, and generally not getting the relaxation and rehab that you need.
- One mistake some women make is to begin a vigorous exercise program immediately after giving birth. Because your body is actually out of alignment, it’s possible to injure yourself if you go right back to your old exercise routine.
- The ideal time to get chiropractic care after delivery is about two weeks from the day the baby arrives. Your chiropractor will likely advise a full-scale spinal alignment session. The checkup should include not just the necessary adjustments but a thorough exam to determine how much help you’ll need in terms of spinal re-alignment.
- Patients who have had regular chiropractic care before and during pregnancy generally need just one or two visits before they are back to full health and bio-mechanical alignment. If you’re just beginning to work with a chiropractor, or have just had a few visits, then it might take a few weeks before you’re back to your “old self” again.
- There is no doubt about it: you should receive an adjustment after delivery. This is especially true if you want to get back into an exercise routine, jog, walk, or ride a bicycle on a regular basis. Whether you have a c-section or natural childbirth, you’ll still need to visit a chiropractor as soon as you’re able after the delivery, typically one or two weeks after giving birth.
- Postpartum chiropractic care does a lot more than realign your body and help you get back to an exercise routine. It will help your body overcome the effects of the birthing process, which includes all sorts of unique stresses like severe muscular pushing, abdominal exertion, pelvic pain, and more.
- Your body will need several weeks, at least, before it is back to its full, normal capacities and abilities. The key to complete recovery is making a trip to the chiropractor as soon as possible. If you neglect to attend to all the misalignment and residual, lingering pain of childbirth, it could take many months before you feel “the same” as before you were pregnant.
What Happens Before and During Birth That Chiropractic Care Can Help With?
It’s easy enough to say that chiropractic treatment can assist women who are pregnant or have already delivered, but what, exactly, happens before, during, and after childbirth that makes chiropractic treatment necessary?
Here are some of the key changes your body undergoes that throw it out of alignment, both physically and chemically:
- The biomechanical structure of your pelvis is drastically changed in the days leading up to childbirth and during the event itself. When the baby begins to descend, the mother’s pelvis necessarily must shift to allow for passage. This is particularly true if the child descends in a “face-up” position.The result is usually a severe misalignment of the pelvis that can be corrected with a series of chiropractic adjustments. Not only can chiropractic car restore proper alignment but it can help eliminate moderate to severe pain that often accompanies this scenario.
- Some of the hormones that your body releases to soften up the pelvic ligaments also loosen up all the body’s joints. As a result, immediately after giving birth, your body is at a much higher risk of injury. There’s usually a certain amount of pain that goes with this hormonal change as well, but it often doesn’t show up until a few days after childbirth.
- The posture changes completely in order to allow you to effectively carry the weight of the child. As soon as the baby arrives, your posture does not magically return to normal. Depending on how healthy you were before becoming pregnant, and how spinal alignment was, it could take months for you to regain your normal posture, if ever.
- The spine and pelvis can undergo serious amounts of stress and physical pressure if you have a difficult childbirth.
- Your center of gravity is totally altered once you give birth. Additionally, your hormones are still way out of balance and you take on the task of feeding and caring for a young child. That typically includes strain to the back and wrist, due to holding the baby for longish periods of time, as well as other postural changes involving the back.
The team at Spinal Health and Wellness can help you with all the changes that accompany childbirth. Don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule an appointment or just to ask a question. We’re always happy to be of service.