Whether you see it from mom’s perspective or baby’s perspective, there’s no denying that even the easiest birth is a lot, both physically and physiologically. When a pregnant woman comes in for chiropractic care, there are three goals in mind: to address any pregnancy-related aches and pains, to prepare her body for birth, and to correct and maintain proper nerve communication going from her central nervous system to the rest of her systems and tissues.
Once their baby is born, some moms will ask whether they still benefit from chiropractic care. The short answer is yes, absolutely! But if you were hoping for a more detailed explanation, that’s precisely what we’ll discuss in today’s blog!
Benefits of postpartum chiropractic care:
Taking advantage of the hormone, relaxin:
After birth, approximately for the next four to six months your body is still releasing relaxin. This appropriately named hormone relaxes all of the ligaments in your body and it is what enables your pelvis to widen in preparation for baby’s birth. Relaxin also comes with a price: because your pelvis is more movable, it also becomes more unstable. Any small misstep or bump can shift your pelvic structure and put pressure on nerves. This is one of the reasons why sciatic pain, low back pain and hip pain are so common with pregnancy. Because relaxin affects the soft tissue in your whole body, so this can also cause shifts in other regions, such as your neck or mid back.
Now, it’s not all doom and gloom! In the same way that relaxin hormone contributes to things shifting out of place easier, from a chiropractic standpoint it also helps to get things back into place more readily. Because your body is still circulating relaxin hormone after pregnancy, it means that you can achieve quicker structural change through chiropractic care compared to someone who is not pregnant or who has not been recently pregnant. It means that during the first few months after having your baby, you have an amazing and rare opportunity to more swiftly correct your alignment and remove nerve interference.
Tackling the development of new pains and aches
The most common pregnancy-related pains include sciatic pain or pain in the low back, hip, pelvis, mid back, and groin, as well as cramps, heartburn and gastric reflux. The good news is that these aches and pains tend to go away quickly after the birth of your baby. On the other hand, although you might find a brief respite from all of these, typically new discomforts and pain can arise. The reason for this is the long hours that you now spend looking down and holding baby in your arms. As your baby gets heavier, you might find yourself constantly carrying him or her on the same side hip. Finally, baby will eventually be a walking toddler, which also means you find yourself bending forward and picking them up multiple times a day.
These new chronic positions and motions take a toll on your neck, back, shoulders, and hips. The goal of post pregnancy chiropractic care is to support your body through all of the stages associated with motherhood. Chiropractic care seeks not only to correct the misalignments and alleviate pain that arises as a consequence, but it also seeks to stimulate the relaxation of muscles that becomes tight with these stages.
Rehabbing your body
As mentioned, many pregnancy-related pains tend to disappear after birth. Even so, your body can still feel different from what it once and you might feel like you’ve got some work to do before you feel like yourself again. Chiropractic care aims to support you through the process of getting your body back, whether that means helping you to get back to exercising, getting access to pelvic floor exercises or restoring the proper communication, motion and flexibility to your body.
Stimulating the parasympathetic system
Another reason to get adjusted during the postpartum period is the fact that the first few months after having a baby can be a time where it’s a challenge to feel our best: physically, mentally and physiologically. For example, sleep is very much interrupted and there’s a lot of adjusting to new routines whether this is your first child or third. Put simply: it’s a time that can have equal parts joy and stress. While chiropractic care can’t take the stressful things out of your life, it can help regulate your body’s stress response!
The way this happens is by stimulating the parasympathetic system. This system is also appropriately called the “rest and digest” system, whose job is to calm down the physiological stress response in your body. By targeting this system, we’ve had practice members who report being able to sleep better, reduce their anxiety and stress, and have better digestion.
Continuing to support your body
It is an understatement to say that our nervous system is incredibly complex and crucial. The magnitude to which it allows our organs and systems to function and communicate appropriately, and the magnitude of its role in in determining who we are, how we think or how we feel is very hard to convey.
The peripheral nervous system, which is made up of the nerves that branch out of the spinal cord, is divided into the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system is in charge of voluntary sensory and motor nerves that detect stimuli (i.e. vibration, temperature) and responds to stimuli (i.e. muscle movement). On the other hand, the autonomic nervous system is all about the involuntary processes that happen within our bodies (i.e. digestion, respiration, heart rhythm).
By removing interference over the peripheral nervous system, we’re not only able to help with neck or low back pain relief, we’re able to contribute to your own health. This is better seen when providing chiropractic care for young children because instead of coming in for aches and pains, they typically present with more autonomic issues like bed wetting, chronic ear infections or constipation. Through gentle and specific chiropractic adjustments we have seen children’s health thrive, which is why it continues to be one of our core passions!
In summary, chiropractic can (1) take advantage of the relaxin hormone to get structural changes and remove nerve interference quicker, (2) it seek to provide comfort and relieve pain during all stages of motherhood, (3) it helps to rehab your body, (4) it stimulates the system in your body that calms down your stress response, and (4) it supports your overall health.
If you are pregnant or recently had a baby and want to experience these benefits for yourself, reach out to us to schedule an evaluation!