Childbirth is an exciting time in a mother’s life. There is nothing greater than bringing new life into the world, but it can come with a well-worth price. In this week’s blog, we are going to discuss what happens to the body during pregnancy and discuss the benefits of prenatal chiropractic care.
What Happens to the Body During Pregnancy?
When a mother-to-be is pregnant, she will begin to experience physical and emotional changes over roughly the next 40 weeks. Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters.
The 1st trimester of pregnancy begins on the first day of the last menstrual cycle and lasts until the end of the 13th week. During the 1st trimester, a woman typically won’t present with a large belly, but she may experience symptoms such as tender, swollen breasts, nausea with or without vomiting, increased urination, fatigue, food cravings, sensitivity to certain foods, heartburn, and/or constipation.
Hormones will begin to fluctuate rapidly and will continue to do so throughout the entire pregnancy. It is very common to be happy, anxious, frustrated, and sad at random times of the day. These are called mood swings and they are perfectly normal during pregnancy.
The 2nd trimester of pregnancy begins at the end of the 13th week and lasts through week 28. During the 2nd trimester, a woman might notice that the morning sickness has subsided. This may give the mother-to-be more energy and excitement for the baby to arrive as fatigue usually subsides in this trimester. As the fetus continues to grow, the belly begins to expand up until delivery day. Mom may notice skin color changes, nasal congestion, sensitive gums and teeth when brushing, dizziness, cramps, vaginal discharge, and/or urinary tract infections during the 2nd trimester.
Another common symptom that mom may experience in the 2nd trimester is the Braxton Hicks contractions. Braxton Hicks occur when the muscles contract from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Contractions may become more frequent and intense through the remaining pregnancy. Braxton Hicks are usually nothing to be concerned about and are a normal process during pregnancy.
The 3rd trimester of pregnancy begins on week 29 and lasts through delivery. The 3rd trimester can be both physically and emotionally tough for mom because the baby continues to grow larger and prepares for birth. Some common symptoms present during the 3rd trimester include more intense Braxton Hicks contractions, back pain, leg/hip pain, shortness of breath, heartburn, spider veins, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and frequent urination.
Though pain contributes an emotional response to, thoughts begin to wander in mom’s head about how painful childbirth will be, if the baby will be healthy, if she will be healthy after delivery, or if she will be a good mother to the baby.
If you are a mother-to-be reading our blog, consider taking childbirth classes. You’ll learn what to expect and meet others who share your excitement and concerns. Talk with others who’ve had positive birth experiences. This can help with emotional triggers and help put the mind at ease.
The Benefits of Prenatal Chiropractic Care
Frequently, mothers-to-be may choose to see a chiropractor as their pain management doctor during pregnancy. Although some pregnant moms already have chiropractic exposure, for others, it may be their first experience. Many chiropractors are board certified in obstetric/pediatric care, but it is not a requirement for a chiropractor to be board certified to treat pregnant or pediatric patients.
The biggest benefit of prenatal chiropractic care is pain management. Notice that we didn’t say treating the patient. There is no specific correction to a mother’s pelvis or spine until after the baby has been born. A chiropractor’s main goal when treating a pregnant patient is to keep mom as comfortable as possible and help induce an easier delivery. Yes, you heard right. Regular chiropractic adjustments can help induce an easier delivery process. Remember that a chiropractor’s job is to remove nerve interference and help enhance the nervous system.
The human body has a few different organs that store several different hormones. During pregnancy, there are key hormones stored in the hypothalamus of the brain, that help with lactation and uterine contractions. Uterine contractions happen by a hormone called oxytocin that helps widen the birthing canal so that new life can enter the world.
Uterine contractions can be very painful, especially as the due date approaches. Hormonal responses are stimulated by the central nervous system, so when someone is pregnant, hormones and the central nervous system are on overload. Regular chiropractic adjustments help calm the nervous system and help regulate hormonal levels. This will further help induce an easier delivery process.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be any pain during the entire pregnancy or the delivery process. That is why the biggest benefit of prenatal chiropractic care is pain management and not a full treatment process. Yes, chiropractic care can reduce symptoms present in any of the three trimesters, but it does not necessarily eliminate the symptoms. Some pregnant moms don’t experience many symptoms. We just want you to realize what a chiropractor’s goal is during pregnancy.
Is Getting Adjusted Going to Affect the Baby?
A common question asked especially by first time moms, is will getting adjusted hurt the baby? The answer is no. Moms become concerned because they think that lying on their stomachs will crush the baby. It’s no different if they are sleeping on their stomach at home on their bed. A pregnant patient lying on the stomach for a prolonged period of time may not be beneficial, but lying on the stomach for a short period of time won’t do any harm to the baby. Most chiropractor’s have a swing away piece on their adjusting tables to remove pressure from the belly and make mom more comfortable.
Another concern moms have about seeing a chiropractor is that the adjustment itself will harm the baby. An adjustment is performed by adjusting the spine and not from the front. There is not enough human force for a chiropractor to push a spine forward into the abdominal cavity.
At our facility, we accept and encourage pregnant mothers to be seen regularly by a chiropractor during pregnancy and even after delivery. Our doctors see pregnant patients and focus on keeping the patients comfortable all the way up through delivery. Our tables provide swing away pieces to help take pressure off the belly so that mom can be more comfortable. We have a variety of different techniques that we can utilize based on symptoms and patient comfort.
For more information or questions about prenatal care, please call us at (724) 547-3377 and checkout our website at www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more content.
Yours In Health,
Larry E. Wilkins, DC
Brian M. Steinert, DC