Perinatal Care – Chiropractic

At least 50% of pregnant women will experience back pain, with many suffering from severe discomfort that impacts their activities of daily living. Pregnancy-related back pain can be multi-factorial and rarely only has one cause. Back pain, wrist pain and leg cramps are the most common complaints reported.

The average healthy weight gain is approximately 30 lbs, most of which is around the abdomen adding a significant frontal load. The added weight puts stress on the back, hips, knees and feet/ankles. Additional weight can lead to altered posture and biomechanics as we change the way we sleep, stand, and move during pregnancy. As the baby grows and the uterus expands, the abdominal muscles also stretch and lose their ability to support as they did. The change in posture, shifting forward, may cause pain and discomfort specifically in the lower back.

During the third trimester, levels of the hormone “relaxin” increase and contribute to the loosening of joints in order for the pelvis to accommodate for an enlarged uterus, the baby and later birth. However, the loosening of joints can decrease joint stability and further alter posture. Other structures including musculature may be taxed, resulting in a predisposition to pain and injury. This may result in back pain.

Women report pain and discomfort including:

Neck pain
Low back pain
Mid-back pain
Pelvic pain and pressure
Aching legs and buttocks
Peripheral swelling
Sciatica or shooting pain down the leg/foot
Fatigue and low energy
Night-time muscle spasms
Carpal tunnel syndrome
De Quervain tenosynovitis
Sleep disturbances

Studies have shown that manual therapy, including chiropractic, can help decrease pain in pregnancy and labour. Chiropractors can provide safe, effective and drug-free conservative care to relieve pain and improve function during pregnancy and after birth.

How can our experts help?

Reduce back and pelvic pain:
Conservative care including spinal manipulation and mobilization of joints and soft tissue therapy can help reduce pain and improve function.

Relieve fatigued, aching muscles: Chiropractic treatment plans can include soft tissue therapy and various modalities including TENS, IFC, and acupuncture among others. Chiropractors can also recommend exercises to help rehabilitate postural changes.

Help prepare for childbirth: A chiropractor can recommend safe, effective exercises and stretches to help prepare your body for the baby’s delivery.

Ensure a faster recovery: As part of a comprehensive plan of management, chiropractic treatment can help manage quicker recovery and address post-natal biomechanical complaints and rehabilitation.

The Webster Technique

Dr. Nicole Ciraolo-Wilson and Dr. Jennifer O’Shea are also both certified in the Webster Technique with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) and have extensive experience and success in treating pregnant women. The Webster Technique is a specific sacral analysis used to identify biomechanical restriction and imbalance in the pelvis. Common symptoms of sacral imbalance include (but are not limited to) low back pain, sciatica and symptoms associated with S/I joint dysfunction, such as low back, hip and groin pain.

The ICPA recognizes that in a theoretical and clinical framework of the Webster Technique in the care of pregnant women, sacral imbalance may contribute to difficult labor for the mother (i.e., dystocia). Dystocia is caused by inadequate uterine function, pelvic contraction, and baby mal-presentation. The correction of sacral imbalance may have a positive effect on all of these causes of dystocia.

In this clinical and theoretical framework, it is proposed that sacral misalignment may contribute to these three primary causes of dystocia via uterine nerve interference, pelvic misalignment and the tightening and torsion of specific pelvic muscles and ligaments. The resulting tense muscles and ligaments and their aberrant effect on the uterus may prevent the baby from comfortably assuming the best possible position for birth.

The Webster Technique’s specific sacral analysis and adjustment can be used throughout pregnancy to detect and correct sacral imbalance, optimize pelvic neuro-biomechanics in the mother and alleviate the commonly associated pain symptoms.

Prenatal Yoga

Dr. Nicole Ciraolo-Wilson is also a certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor and believes in the benefits of a regular prenatal yoga practice. Prenatal yoga links postures (asana) and breathing exercises (pranayama) to create awareness of your own mind, body and spirit.

Yoga postures during pregnancy help to strengthen the uterus and pelvic muscles, improve circulation, aid digestion, gently mobilize the spinal column, relieve fatigue and tension and revitalize the internal organs. Yoga can also alleviate many of the common discomforts of pregnancy such as nausea, constipation, varicose veins, swelling, back pain and sciatica.

Breathing practice during pregnancy opens the chest and helps to improve circulation in both mother and baby, ensuring a better supply of oxygen to the blood. It also calms the nerves, relaxes the mother and gives the mother greater control of her breathing during labour.