Pregnancy can be one of the most magical & transformative times in a woman’s life, but let’s face it – it can also come with a whole host of aches, pains, & discomforts. From back pain to sciatica to headaches & so much more, it can feel like your body is going through the wringer. I have seen my fair share as a Wilmington NC Birth Photographer and experienced it myself.
But fear not, because I’ve got a secret weapon for you: prenatal chiropractic care.
You heard me right – chiropractic care isn’t just for athletes or people with back injuries.
In fact, more & more pregnant women are turning to chiropractic care to help them feel better, more comfortable, & more aligned during their pregnancies.
I could not imagine going through my twin pregnancy without chiropractic care. Not only were there so many things that changed with my body but I was growing two little ones. I had kinetic tape applied to aid with my growing belly & adjustments when needed to aid with my lower back discomfort.
So what is prenatal chiropractic care, exactly? How does it work & what can you expect from a session? Perhaps most importantly, is it safe for you & your growing babies?
I’ve got you covered, mama. Today I’m giving you Part One of my interview with Dr. Ada, a prenatal chiropractor in Hampstead NC to answer all your questions about chiropractic care during pregnancy. So stay tuned for Part 2 with more on postpartum, & newborn chiropractic care!
So grab a cup of your fav hot beverage and let’s dive in!
Can you explain what prenatal chiropractic care is and how it can benefit pregnant women?
The main focus when working with a pregnant Mama is making sure that her pelvis and hips are in the most optimal position so that the fetus can grow to the best of its ability. And then also in supporting the alignment of the pelvis and sacrum and reproductive structures. It’s intended to help further along natural childbirth, and the natural childbirth process. We do this by making sure that the nervous system is functioning to its fullest by addressing the pelvic inlet and the structures that involve the entire birthing process.
Everything from the sacrum, hips, pelvis, musculature, and full spine all the way up to the cranium is being checked. This makes sure that the brain and body are fully communicating via the nervous system.
What are some common pregnancy-related conditions or symptoms that you treat with chiropractic care?
low back pain
swelling of the ankles
swelling of lymph nodes
pain in the pelvic region
pain in the musculature of the pelvic inlet
round ligament pain
supporting the whole pelvic hip structure and symptoms related to that
nausea (more than just morning sickness)
Can you walk us through a typical prenatal chiropractic session? What can a pregnant woman expect?
During the initial consult, before we even perform any type of chiropractic care or adjustments on a mama, we sit down and go through their intake paperwork, and talk about what pregnancy has been like (whether early or late in pregnancy). We review their general health before they became pregnant because that can also be an indicator of what’s to come or what might come up. Then we assess their range of motion, the position of the pelvis, and the feet, knees, and ankles because as the baby begins to grow there’s a lot of added weight.
We make sure that everything is moving like it’s supposed to so that when we perform any type of chiropractic care, we don’t make any situations worse. No x-rays are taken but a lot of palpation along with checking the range of motion. Next, a neurological thermal scan of the nervous system is non-invasive, it’s actually using thermography that helps us assess where there’s nerve interference. This gives a very clear picture of any abnormally high or low nerve activity along the spine and structural indicators of subluxation.
Once all of that is complete a curated plan is made. When they come in for an adjustment in our office, as long as she’s cleared, she does her warm-up exercises of neck traction in an interesting-looking harness while standing. It’s intended to stretch out the spine to create space in between the vertebra which gets some proper spinal movement to get blood flow, nerve flow, and optimize Cerebral Spinal flow. Then she’ll sit on a Wobble Cushion (as long as she’s cleared) and started three exercises of side to side, front to back, and rotation movements. It is so important that mamas move during pregnancy to help with not only blood flow but also comfort.
After they’re done with their exercises, as long as they’re cleared, they will then come to the chiropractic table for an adjustment. There are very specific pillows that have a cut-out in the middle to accommodate a pregnant belly. I will check the full spine but I first start at the feet & ankles because I checked her leg length for an indication of subluxation or misalignment in the spine which is caused by a neurological miscommunication. Working up the body to the hip bones to the spine and neck.
Once that is done then we move down and check the associating round ligaments and ligaments around her belly to make sure that they’re moving like they’re supposed to, or supporting like they’re supposed to, we will also check the psoas muscle, I like to call that the suspenders to the spine. They help attach your lower spine to your hips and are incredibly important muscles when you are pregnant because it’s helping you hold the baby up. Checking that muscle is optimal and oftentimes, if it’s too tight or not releasing can cause low back pain, and also alter the pelvic inlet. This alone can cause difficulties in pregnancy and/or childbirth, so we want to make sure that muscle is functioning properly.
And then after that, if they’re clear to do so we will end with a little bit of prenatal massage, usually in the hip area. And care is done.
Once that is complete they can then stand on the vibration plates(if approved), if not then they just march in place after their adjustment. Both of these post-adjustment exercises are vital to chiropractic care because they help with muscle re-education. After we align the spine, we want those muscles and ligaments in the nervous system to remember this position so marching in place keeps those muscles activated. The vibration machine does that to a higher level. But not every mom is clear to do that.
These adjustments take a little bit longer than non-pregnant mamas because we do go a little bit slower and there are a few more things needed.
During these appointments, I always talk to mamas about how they’re doing, sleeping, and eating. Food cravings are important because they can reveal nutrient deficiencies or mental health because the hormones in pregnancy affect them.
What qualifications and certifications do you have in prenatal chiropractic care, and how do they make you uniquely qualified to treat pregnant women?
I have my chiropractic degree and I was exposed to every type of technique. There are over 100 different techniques but our school focused on 15. Maternity and prenatal chiropractic is its own entity and we are exposed to hours of understanding and learning the anatomy of a pregnant versus a non-pregnant woman. We also learned extensively about the anatomy and techniques for the chiropractic care of babies.
I have completed all my courses with AICPA which is the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association for Pediatrics and Maternity full certification and have opted for another specialty, which is specifically in prenatal. I will sit for the test for that certification as well this year(2023).
Well, I hope this post has left you feeling informed, empowered, and excited! There was so much incredible information in this interview that I have a Part 2 coming out later this week. So keep an eye on your inbox for it!
Remember, pregnancy is a time to celebrate and honor your incredible body, and chiropractic care is one of the many ways you can support it on this journey.
So go forth, mamas, and keep being the amazing, powerful, and beautiful woman you are – with a little extra help from your friendly neighborhood chiropractor!