Chiropractic Advice for Pregnancy

by The American Chiropractic Association

The weight gain, the bloating, the nausea… Most new mothers will tell you that the aches and pains of pregnancy are a small price to pay for the beautiful bundle of joy they’re rewarded with nine months later.

But as many new mothers can attest, the muscle strains of pregnancy are very real and can be more than just a nuisance. The average weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the baby, can sometimes result in severe discomfort. In fact, studies have found that about half of all expectant mothers will develop low back pain at some point during their pregnancy. This is especially true during late pregnancy, when the baby’s head presses down on a woman’s back, legs and buttocks, putting pressure on her sciatic nerve. And for those who already suffer from low back pain, the problem can become even worse.

During pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity almost immediately begins to shift forward to the front of her pelvis, according to Dr. Jerome McAndrews, spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). Although a woman’s sacrum – or posterior section of her pelvis – has more depth than a man’s to enable her to carry a baby, the displaced weight still increases the stress on her joints. “As the baby grows in size,” Dr. McAndrews explains, “the woman’s weight is projected even farther forward, and the curvature of her lower back is increased, placing extra stress on her spinal disks in that area. As a result, the spine in the upper back area must compensate – and the normal curvature of her upper spine increases as well.”

While these changes sound dramatic, Mother Nature does step in to help accommodate them. During pregnancy, hormones are released that help loosen the ligaments attached to the pelvic bones. But even these natural changes designed to accommodate the growing baby can result in postural imbalances, causing pregnant women to be more prone to awkward trips and falls.