Chiropractic care is becoming an important part of birth preparation for many pregnant women these days. Women are realizing the benefits of regular chiropractic adjustments as they prepare for safer, easier birthing for both themselves and their babies. Chiropractors have actually cared for pregnant women for many years. Recently, however, with the increased interest in natural birthing, and in an effort to avoid having a C-section, a growing number of mothers have incorporated chiropractic into their prenatal care. To understand how chiropractic care can contribute to a better birth, it is important to look at the mother’s and baby’s biomechanics throughout pregnancy.
As a mother’s weight increases, her center of gravity shifts outward and her postural compensations respond accordingly. In addition, the ligament laxity necessary for birthing adds to instability in all of her joints, including her spine and pelvis.
These hormonal and structural changes can lead to spinal and pelvic misalignment and the lower back pain many women experience during pregnancy. Lower back pain, in and of itself, is a burden to a woman’s daily function and quality of life. However, the misalignment of the spine and pelvis have a far more crucial consequence to a mother and her developing baby. In chiropractic, these misalignments are called subluxations. Reducing this nerve system stress is a key ingredient for normal bodily function.
Another effect of spinal and pelvic misalignment throughout pregnancy is a condition imposed on the baby called intrauterine constraint. To understand this, it is important to look at the mother’s anatomy and see the relationship between her pelvic biomechanics and the baby’s positioning. The mother’s pelvis has various key ligaments attached that support her uterus. As the baby grows, their role becomes increasingly important. If her pelvis is in biomechanical balance during pregnancy, the uterus will be supported symmetrically. This allows the baby optimal room for movement in utero and provides it the opportunity to develop free of constraint. Conversely, if the woman’s sacrum (the major triangular bone in her pelvis) is out of alignment, it will affect the alignment of her entire pelvis. Misalignment of the pelvis will create an uneven pulling effect on the uterine ligaments, which explains why some women feel sensitivity on one side more than the other. Intrauterine constraint can create torsion in the uterus, limiting available space for the developing baby. This can inhibit the development of the baby’s spine.
Intrauterine constraint not only compromises fetal positioning, but can also impair the future health of the baby. The optimal position for birth is anterior vertex (rear-facing, head down). When a baby presents breech or posterior, it often is the result of an imbalance in the mother’s pelvis, forcing the baby to assume a compromised position.
If mother’s biomechanics are compromised, obstetric interventions are more likely to be recommended and implemented. Proper prenatal chiropractic care, however, is a valuable tool to decrease the reliance on these invasive delivery procedures.
Today’s parents are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of the mother’s pelvic biomechanics throughout pregnancy. Giving it due attention will not only result in a more comfortable pregnancy, but will optimize the baby’s developing systems in utero and contribute toward achieving optimal fetal positioning for a safer and easier birth for both mother and baby.