Bookends: Prenatal and Postpartum Chiropractic Care

prenatal chiropractic care

We are excited to host Dr. Bailey Zimmel at the center this week. Enclosed is her explanation of the benefits of Chiropractic Care during and after pregnancy. As always, we recommend you check with your prenatal care provider.

I consider pregnancy to be a major athletic event and liken it to training for a marathon. A woman trains for around 40 weeks in anticipation of performing well on the big day and then begins the recovery phase. Within this mindset, chiropractic care is vital to your prenatal and postpartum plan as it supports you throughout the process.When it comes to treatment, there is no one size fits all model, and luckily, chiropractors look at the body as a whole. We examine how the joints and surrounding soft tissues are functioning dynamically. What are the differences between prenatal and postpartum care? And more importantly, what are the benefits of chiropractic care? Let’s delve deeper below:

One of the most impactful changes your body will experience during pregnancy is the continual changing of your spinal curves. Carrying that extra weight in your chest and belly moves your center of gravity forward, causing rounding of your midback and shoulders and deepening of your low back curve. Another shift will be the opening of the pelvis as birth approaches, due to the presence of the relaxin hormone. Both of these changes affect your body’s core stability. Sometimes these changes can be painful, and when options are limited for pain management, chiropractic care is a great way to help reduce pain and keep your body moving freely.

Your body is also tasked with making room for your baby. Your pelvis is made of up of your sacrum, coccyx, and hip bones and creates a wide, open brim which houses your uterus. Things like poor posture, repetitive movements and compensatory patterns reduce joint mobility, contract muscles and tense ligaments in this area, affecting how your uterus is positioned. Uterus position naturally impacts baby positioning, something we know to be a major aspect of a smooth delivery. Chiropractic care can improve pelvic function by balancing a woman’s body, allowing more room for baby to achieve optimal positioning for birth naturally.

Another benefit of prenatal chiropractic care is that it may assist in a natural vaginal birth. Evidence supports that women who seek chiropractic care throughout gestation may have greater ability to relax the pelvic floor muscles(1) and may have on average, shorter labor times (2,3) encouraging less interventions and a more comfortable delivery process.

Now that baby is here in your arms, recovery time begins! It is important to realize your body is still undergoing many changes after delivery and supportive care is beneficial, especially if labor was difficult. The physical changes you experienced while your body was readying for baby will continue in reverse as your center of gravity moves back towards your spine and your spinal curves begin to return to normal. However, during your 40 week preparation period, your core muscular strength has most likely weakened as your abdominal wall expanded with your growing uterus. This lessening of core strength cannot provide sufficient support to your spine also leaving room for discomfort or recurrent pain. It is at this time that chiropractors will evaluate for postpartum issues, such as diastasis recti which is related to the abdominal changes we just covered. Beginning functional exercises to re-establish a strong and stable foundation as you heal will help you return to daily activities and exercise faster and safer.

Can’t stop holding and staring at baby? You are not alone! Repetitively tilting your head downward and rounding your shoulders creates excessive strain in your neck and midback areas, making it difficult to care for a newborn and maybe your other child(ren). This is also commonly a side effect of long feeding sessions. A postpartum chiropractor will evaluate if your joints are moving too much or too little, and can offer gentle adjustments to help restore proper motion, soft tissue therapies to keep muscles supple, and/or rehab exercises and postural recommendations to provide stability and strength.

Chiropractors are available to support you and your baby’s journey. Find a chiropractor that you trust and one that focuses on these populations. Whether you’re seeking a chiropractor for prenatal care, postpartum care, or both, the benefits are many and will set the foundation for a wonderful beginning.

  1. Pelvic floor functional changes with spinal manipulation in pregnant and non-pregnant women: A pilot study. JMPT 2016. In Press.
  2. J.M. Fallon. Textbook on chiropractic & pregnancy. Arlington, VA: International Chiropractic Association; 1994: 52, 109.
  3. Fallon J.M. Chiropractic and pregnancy: a partnership for the future. ICA Int Rev Chiropr. 1990;46(6):39–42.
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