During pregnancy, your body goes through many changes to accommodate a growing baby.
“When you’re pregnant, the hormone relaxin is released, which relaxes the joints and eases labor and delivery,” says Amanda Brown, D.C., a chiropractor with Henry Ford Health. “But sometimes, the ligaments get so loose that they become structurally unstable, and it creates pain.”
Other factors that can lead to spine misalignment and pain during pregnancy:
- You’re typically carrying 25 to 30 extra pounds.
- The abdominal muscles weaken.
- The curve in your lower back becomes accentuated.
Chiropractic care keeps the spine aligned, so it can be helpful for pregnant women who are in discomfort. Sometimes, midwives and obstetricians recommend chiropractic care to their patients.
“If a patient complains of specific aches or pains, I may suggest a chiropractor,” says Andrea Altomaro, a certified nurse midwife with Henry Ford Health. “I also suggest looking into chiropractic care if you have a malpositioned baby, such as having a baby that’s laying sideways, breech, or if the baby’s back is laying along your back.”
“And sometimes, chiropractic care can just help you feel better throughout your pregnancy, especially during the third trimester,” Altomaro adds. “You may not have a singular complaint, but you just feel better after having an adjustment.”
Here, how chiropractic care can be a beneficial part of a prenatal routine.
Chiropractic care can alleviate pain.
A chiropractor will work on spine alignment, muscles, joints and ligaments to create better functioning and stability of the pelvic region, says Dr. Brown. She adds that around 75% of women who receive chiropractic care report feeling relief about two to four days after a session.
Chiropractic care can ease pregnancy nausea.
“The spinal cord and spinal nerves, which chiropractors work on, are part of the nervous system,” says Dr. Brown. “Chiropractic care can improve the overall functioning of the nervous system, which may help with nausea.”
Chiropractic care can help reposition the baby.
“If the baby doesn’t have enough room, or is presenting in the breech position, we’ll work on pelvic alignment and the ligaments and muscles in the pelvic region to decrease any intrauterine constraint, allowing for a more optimal position for delivery,” says Dr. Brown. “This can help move the head down and give the baby more space.”
In the case of a breech position, Dr. Brown recommends seeing a chiropractor once a week during the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy.
Chiropractic care can reduce the length of time you’re in labor.
Women who receive chiropractic care during pregnancy have 25% to 31% shorter labor times, says Dr. Brown. “Chiropractors believe this is because of better alignment in the pelvic region, which decreases intrauterine constraint and allows the baby to pass through the labor canal with more ease,” she says.
Chiropractic care can help with postpartum pain.
Some women continue going to the chiropractor after the baby arrives, as breastfeeding is also a time when women need help to ease body aches. “We treat a lot of middle back and neck pain because of the sustained posture you’re in while nursing,” says Dr. Brown.
Chiropractic care is safe for most pregnancies, unless you have vaginal bleeding for unknown reasons, preeclampsia, or are at risk of premature labor.
“Regardless, it never hurts to check with your obstetrician before seeing a chiropractor,” says Altomaro. “Sometimes, I will even check with the chiropractors myself to see if they think the patient would benefit from their care, or if they should consider physical therapy as another alternative treatment.”
And before going into any chiropractic office, ensure they are taking appropriate cautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I would advise against going to any office that has not implemented universal precautions like increased cleaning protocols and mask-wearing for everyone—patients and staff alike,” Altomaro says. “Safety is top priority.”
Learn more about chiropractic care and other integrative medicine services at Henry Ford. To find a chiropractor, or a nurse midwife or obstetrician, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).
Amanda Brown, D.C., is a chiropractor with the Henry Ford Center for Integrative Medicine and sees patients at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Andrea Altomaro, C.N.M., is a certified nurse midwife with Henry Ford Health. She sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center in Livonia.