Happy and Healthy, Starting the First Nine Months
Apr 29, 2011 11:24PM
● By Katie Sleigh
Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a woman’s life. Every pregnant woman wants the absolute best for her child during those first nine months. She will eat better, exercise regularly and avoid alcohol and medications. Why? Because everything that she experiences—diet, stress, chemicals—will also be experienced by her developing baby.
While focusing on the health of their developing babies, many pregnant women experience problems such as pain, loss of sleep and anxiety about labor and delivery. This can make pregnancy a less enjoyable experience for moms-to-be. There is a remedy that can help alleviate these common problems: chiropractic care.
Chiropractors trained in working with pregnant women often will use the Webster Technique. Developed by Larry Webster, D.C., the founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, this technique helps to reduce interference in the nervous system as well as restore balance in the sacrum, pelvis, and muscles and ligaments that surround the uterus. All of this helps to alleviate pain, reduce the torsion, or twisting, on the uterus and create the optimal space within the pelvic outlet for delivery.
Healthier, Less Painful Pregnancy
Because of the rapid changes that occur throughout pregnancy, aches and pains are very common. Changes in hormones, center of gravity, posture and weight are a perfect recipe for headaches, as well as pain in the lower back, pelvis, knees, legs, hips and upper back.
Many women are led to believe that they have to suffer through these common aches and pains. Chiropractors trained in working with pregnant women, however, have seen great results with eliminating these problems. The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) published the results of a 1991 study of 170 pregnancies with reported back pain. Of those patients who received chiropractic care, 84 percent reported relief of back pain during pregnancy.
For example, a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy came to a local chiropractor nearly in tears and unable to sleep because of the pain. She knew the added stress was not healthy for her baby and she sought help with her concerns. Following her first chiropractic adjustment, she said, “I left feeling great and I slept through the entire night for the first time in weeks!”
In addition to chiropractic adjustments, nutrition and exercise are important parts of a healthy pregnancy. It is important to eat a diet high in vegetables and protein with plenty of whole grains. Protein requirements increase during pregnancy. A pregnant woman should also take a high-quality prenatal vitamin. Ideally, this should be taken in the months prior to becoming pregnant. Eating frequent, small meals and snacks will help with digestion and blood-sugar balance. Processed, refined, preserved and colored foods should be avoided. Caffeine, alcohol, smoking and certain medications (consult your doctor) also should be avoided.
Regular exercise is another important aspect of a healthy pregnancy. Avoid starting a new, aggressive exercise program during pregnancy, and always check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise routine in pregnancy. Kegel exercises and pelvic rock exercises are highly recommended. Other types of exercise that may be safe for most pregnant women include prenatal yoga, swimming and walking. Keep aerobic activities at a low enough intensity that you are able to hold a conversation. Avoid twisting and bending movements that may cause torsion to the pelvis.
Optimal Development and Positioning of Baby
The ligaments that support the uterus are closely related to the spine and pelvis. When either the spine or pelvis is out of balance, the ligaments become twisted and torqued, causing a condition known as intrauterine constraint. As birth approaches, the constraint can make it difficult for the baby to achieve the optimal vertex position. This can lead to malposition—breech, transverse or posterior—of the baby.
Using the Webster Technique, a chiropractor can help restore balance in the spine, pelvis and ligaments so that the baby has the proper space to grow and develop. This, in turn, gives the baby the space to potentially turn to the proper vertex, or head-down, position in preparation for delivery. A 2002 study cited in the JMPT showed an 82 percent success rate of babies turning vertex when doctors of chiropractic used the Webster Technique. The earlier a pregnant woman receives the Webster Technique, the more likely the baby will settle into an optimal position for birth.
Less Painful, Shorter Labor and Delivery
The alignment and balance of the pelvis and sacrum can affect the size and shape of the pelvic outlet where the baby emerges during delivery. The Webster Technique is used to restore the proper alignment and balance in the sacrum and pelvis so that optimal space within the pelvic outlet can be attained.
Chiropractic researcher Dr. Joan Fallon conducted a study that showed a 24 percent reduction in labor times for first-time mothers who received chiropractic care. She also found a 39 percent reduction in labor time for women who were delivering for a second or more time.
Is Chiropractic Care Safe During Pregnancy?
Chiropractic care is safe for both mother and baby throughout pregnancy, and there are no known contraindications to chiropractic care during pregnancy. Doctors of chiropractic carefully position the mother to ensure comfort and safety. Special consideration is given to the physiologic needs of the pregnant woman and baby at each stage of pregnancy.
Dr. Katie Sleigh is a Webster-certified chiropractor with a special focus on working with pregnant women, infants and children. She and her husband, Dr. Quintin Sleigh, own and operate Sleigh Family Chiropractic, a family wellness clinic located at 3285 N. Arlington Heights Rd., in Arlington Heights. For more information, call 847-788-0880 or visit SleighFamilyChiropractic.com.