Chiropractic and Acupuncture in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an incredible time, but there is no denying it comes with its fair share of discomfort. It is also a time when it is best to try and avoid taking too many medications, as many of them can have adverse affects on your baby. So how do you cope with the aches and pains that can go along with pregnancy, without resorting to medications? Luckily, here are some great, safe options for during pregnancy, labour and even in your postpartum period – Chiropractic and Acupuncture.
Aches and Pains in Pregnancy
There are a number of aches and pains that you may experience in pregnancy:
- One of the first uncomfortable things about pregnancy is usually morning sickness
- Up to half of all pregnant women experience back pain. This is in part due to the extra pressure put on your spine by the weight of your growing baby and breasts.
- Lower belly and groin pain – this is caused by the stretching of the ligaments that support your baby. The pains can be sudden and sharp – almost like the snapping of an elastic band.
- Misalignment of your joints can be caused the change in your posture, and by the release of Relaxin, a hormone that relaxes the ligaments. This can cause lower back and hip discomfort.
- Compensating for the change in your center of gravity can cause neck discomfort.
- Misalignment of your pelvis can lead to a restriction of growing room for your baby, and during labour can make it difficult for your baby to get into the optimum birth position.
- As your baby grows, your lung capacity can be restricted, making you a bit short of breath.
Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy
Chiropractic care can take care of all these concerns in a safe, drug free way.
Early in your pregnancy Chiropractic has been shown to help with both morning sickness and heartburn. As your pregnancy progresses and your baby takes up more room, it can ease breathing, and as baby grows relieve the discomfort you might feel in your back, hips and joints. Ensuring your back and pelvis remain correctly aligns will ensure your baby has room to grow, and move into the best position for birth. Chiropractic can also help ensure you have a strong pelvic floor, which will help during birth and afterwards.
Once baby is born you will be lifting and bending probably more than you ever have before. It is a good idea to continue your chiropractic treatment postpartum, especially in the first 6 weeks when your muscles and ligaments will still contain Relaxin. This will help achieve the adjustments you might need more easily and relieve any neck and upper to mid back pain, which is common during this time.
Not only will a chiropractor treat you during your visit, but he/she will be able to advise you on gentle stretches and exercises you can do at home to help keep your muscles strong and supple and reduce tension and pressure where it shouldn’t be.
When looking for a chiropractor, look for a women’s centred practice with experience in treating pregnant women. I can’t stress enough how important optimal pelvic alignment is for natural birth! Check out my resources page for some suggestions.
Acupuncture in Pregnancy
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment that uses fine needles inserted in the skin to achieve ‘balance’ in the body. The needles are inserted corresponding with deep nerves that are stimulated by the needle, releasing chemicals that suppress pain symptoms.
As with Chiropractic, Acupuncture is a great way to alleviate some of the less appealing symptoms of pregnancy. These might include:
- Morning sickness – or all day sickness!
- Anxiety and stress
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a swelling of the ligaments in your wrist
- Sciatica – pain in the back, pelvis and leg
Towards the end of your pregnancy Acupuncture can be used to reduce fatigue, increase stamina, help prepare your uterus and cervix for birth and even gently encourage the onset of natural labour. There is even some evidence that acupuncture can help reposition breech babies, and lead to shorter, easier births.
Some Chiropractors also provide acupuncture, and may refer to it as Dry Needling. This is essentially the same thing, but uses slightly different principles to place the needles.
When should I get Treatment?
When and how often you should get treatment really depends on how you are feeling and what your concerns are. Typically your practitioner might suggest monthly visits until around 34-36 weeks when visits would become more frequent. Your Chiropractor or Acupuncturist should be able to guide you here.
Word of Warning
As with any form of treatment during pregnancy, it is important for you to discuss your plans with your doctor or midwife. Sometimes there are reasons to avoid certain treatments – for instance if you have had bleeding, or have placenta previa. So chat with your medical practitioner to make sure it is safe, and if you experience any cramping, increased pain or bleeding after treatment, call your doctor or hospital straight away. There are also certain areas that should be avoided if you are pregnant, so make sure you tell the chiropractor or acupuncturist if you are pregnant before they start treatment.
If you are pregnant and feel you would like to try Chiropractic treatment or Acupuncture, I have a list of experienced practitioners on my Resources page.
If you would like to chat, you can contact me via our Contact page or call me on 0422 258 771.
Our third and final blog on Nutrition from Stacy Heckenberg BHSc Nut. Med. – for now at least! – is all about how to take care of your nutrition once baby is born. Good nutrition is important now not only to help you get back on your feet after pregnancy and birth, but to help combat the inevitable sleeplessness, and to make sure you are producing the quality and quantity of milk your baby needs to thrive.
Why Postpartum Nutrition is Important
The big day has come and gone and you are home with your beautify baby. On to the next part of the journey – parenthood! A lot of big decisions happen during this time, all while you are learning about this new little person, managing more changes to your body, and the new normal of your life.
Good nutrition will not only help ensure you have a good milk supply, but will aid in recovery and repair of your body, and help with fatigue and the moods that come with hormonal fluctuation.
Choosing to Feed
Choosing how you are going to feed your little bundle is deeply personal, yet everyone will have an opinion that they are happy to share with you! Whether you choose breast or bottle – FED is best. Some women struggle to breastfeed, others choose not to. As a nutritionist I am here to support either choice.
Breast milk has benefits to both mother and child, it’s easily digested, and less likely to cause tummy upset. But, some women may experience, pain, low supply, excess supply, or suffer mastitis. If you find yourself experiencing any of these issues, Alison can recommend a great lactation specialist who will help you.
What to Eat While Breastfeeding
If you decide to breast feed, but are finding your milk supply is low you might need to increase your sources of what we call lactogenic foods. These are foods, also known as galactagogues, which help your body produce more milk. Things to include are:
There are also foods you should avoid as they may cause a drop in supply:
Taking Care of Yourself
This is a busy time, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. Here are a few tips for managing to ensure you get the rest you need:
- Do your grocery shopping online so you don’t have to worry about struggling around the supermarket
- Ask for help with meals – a Doula will always bring you a meal, and will know exactly what you need nutritionally. If you have friends and family perhaps they can drop in the odd hot meal
- If you are making a meal, make double and freeze half for a day when you are tired or just too busy with baby
- Keep plenty of healthy snacks in the house – fresh fruit, cheeses and trail mix are great and easy to eat one handed while you feed baby!
- Often the evenings are unsettled times for babies. So if you have a slow cooker make use of it!
Part of my job is to make meal plans that support all stages of conception, pregnancy and postpartum. So I thought I would share a couple of recipes that I love. There are also a couple from Alison that you might like. Check out the Recipes section of the blog to see the recipes.
I hope these suggestions help you make it through that special time in your life. For more ideas go the Healthy Eating Guideline for Pregnancy at www.eatforhealth.gov.au.
Yours in health,
I hope you enjoyed our Nutrition series. If you have any questions, or want to chat about any aspect of pregnancy, birth or postpartum, message me at:
These pumpkin cookies are perfect for breakfast or a snack and take under an hour to make and bake. I suggest making a double batch and storing some in the freezer.
You will need:
1.25 cups of oats (quick or rolled)
1.5 teaspoons ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
.25 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
.5 cup pumpkin seeds
.5 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pitted dates (chopped)
1 Egg (you can substitute a chia egg)
.75 cup pureed pumpkin
.25 cup honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
1 carrot (grated)
Optional Additions – choc chips, walnuts
- Preheat oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with baking paper
- Combine oats, flax seed, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, baking powder, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and chopped dates together in a bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Whisk egg in a separate mixing bowl. Add pumpkin, honey, coconut oil and grated carrot. Mix well to combine.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well until a dough-like consistency forms.
- Form cookies with the dough and place on baking sheet. (Tip: use a lid from a large-mouthed mason jar as a mold)
Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes depending on how crispy you like your cookies. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Then enjoy!
PB & J Smoothie
A little comfort smoothie that will fill you up thanks to all the protein, at the same time as helping with your milk supply. If the weather is hot and you need to cool down – use frozen bananas and berries.
You will need:
5 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 banana – frozen or fresh
1 cup fresh or frozen berries
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (optional)
2 cups light coconut milk or nut milk – whichever you prefer
1 tablespoon honey
Blend everything in a blender until smooth.
These biscuits are great for increasing your milk supply. The secret ingredient is brewers yeast. Don’t be tempted to replace it with bakers yeast – or any other sort of yeast – as they won’t work as well.
You will need:
1 Cup self raising wholemeal flour (if you have plain flour or coconut flour add half a teaspoon of baking powder)
.5 cup low fat butter (for a healthier option, use organic virgin coconut oil instead (which is super good for you)
.75 cup of brown sugar or coconut sugar (if wanting to reduce sugar, you could try just half a cup)
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (can be found at any local health food store)
2-3 tablespoons of water (depends on if you prefer moister bickies)
1 tablespoon vanilla (optional, for flavour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, for flavour)
1-2 tablespoons brewers yeast
.5 teaspoon salt (use Himalayan salt if possible)
1.5 cups oats (get the thicker cut oats if you can)
OPTIONAL – half a cup of your favourite biscuit ingredients – sultanas, currants, pepitas, chopped dates etc.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter or coconut oil and sugar then add the egg and vanilla. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, let sit for a few minutes before adding to mix.
- Add the dry ingredients (apart from the oats and your optional ingredients) and mix well again.
- Finally, stir in the oats and your optional ingredients.
- Make the biscuits (I use a dessert spoon as a rough guide) and place them onto a lightly greased or lined baking tray. Flatten them a little with your fingers or a spatula. If you like a soft centre, don’t squash too much. If you like you can just make them into balls – I do this and love the soft centre!
- Bake for around 10-12 minutes depending on how well cooked/crunchy you like your biscuits – I prefer them a little soft and lightly cooked.