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.