Chiropractic care during pregnancy will help the baby develop in a stress-free environment. It can also help pregnant women prepare for birth by aligning the pelvic girdle to allow for a healthy, natural delivery.
How is the spine affected by the additional weight in stages of pregnancy?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: The spine is affected an awful lot. We see an awful lot of expecting moms in our practice. I would say every week we probably get at least two or three new expecting moms coming in as patients and we’re kind of known in the community for having some advanced experience with pregnant moms. It’s not so much the additional weight. On average, a mom is going to put on somewhere between 20 to 30, 35 pounds during an average pregnancy. The weight is absolutely a consideration because if you already have pre-existing spine problems, and we gave you a 30 pound backpack to put on and told you you can’t take this off for nine months, I almost guarantee you would want to take it off within the first 15 or 20 minutes, so the weight is definitely an issue.
The other part which makes it so significant is actually where the weight goes, and it’s going in the belly. Your center of gravity is actually moving about an inch and a half forward, and since the center of gravity of the body is changing, it starts to load the lumbar spine differently. That’s really where it starts to affect the body and moms will start to get lower back pain, sciatica and other things affecting the lower back, so it’s fairly common to see some discomfort in the later stages of pregnancy, but they can start pretty early on because the body is going through a lot of changes. It secretes a hormone called relaxin, which loosens up a lot of the ligaments in the body, and that affects how the spine works and how tightly it’s held together.
The latter months of pregnancy are also going to be more significant because the center of gravity is more significantly forward as the baby keeps expanding to the interior or to the front, loading up the spinal joints in the back and putting significant amount of strain on the sacroiliac joints and some of the ligaments in that area. So it’s definitely affected by the weight in the more advanced stages of pregnancy. The center of gravity moves forward and then has a more profound affect as we go later in the pregnancy.
What is monitored during a pregnant woman’s prenatal check?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Besides the obvious things a chiropractor does, which is primarily the detection and removal of the vertebral subluxations of those misalignments which put pressure on the nerves … That’s the true essence of chiropractic, what it was founded on and it’s really what chiropractic is all about, but there’s a special focus on the expecting mom. What we’re really looking at and monitoring in her is the alignment of the pelvic girdle, particularly of the alignment of the pelvis and the amount of tension in the round ligaments, the sacrotuberous ligaments and the uterosacral ligaments, which are basically all the ligaments that are really supporting and holding the uterus in place, and also supporting the pelvic girdle. These ligaments are instrumental in holding the baby within the uterus itself so there’s not too much jostling around when the mother is more active.
If left uncheck, in some moms, what will happen is there can be some tension in these ligaments as the spine is loaded with more weight, and creates a situation called the uterine constraint. Then the baby might have difficulty moving in and around the womb. Sometimes this is suspected in contributing to like, faulty birth positions, breech babies and things like that because the baby can’t really turn if the uterus is constrained. There is a system and a protocol called the Webster technique, which really allows us to work on the pelvic girdle and have a lot of success in helping moms in preparation for birth and things of that nature. It’s truly a wonderful technique that’s been around for a while and really is the premier technique in handling expecting mom, and working in the lower back and pelvic girdle gently and safely for both the mom and the infant.
What type of chiropractic services are available to pregnant women?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: You’re right in that we led into that when talking about the Webster technique. That is the premier most accepted technique that most people are using when they’re having prenatal care, so most doctors that specialize or seek out the kind of work that I do will usually be Webster certified. One can get certified through the ICPA and that’s an important one, but there are other techniques that are also successful. There’s the Logan Basic Technique, which works with the sacrotuberous ligament. There are upper cervical techniques, which could have a profound effect on the full spine and the nerve system, so you’re not limited to any one specific technique or one specific service, but the chiropractic adjustments, the Webster technique are really the primary ones that a chiropractor will use. They’ll also recommend, they may recommend some nutritional things as well, but the primary stuff is really about the adjustive techniques and using the Webster technique to align the pelvis properly.
If a pregnant mom is experiencing a lot of lower back pain, can natural chiropractic care help?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely. Chiropractic has always been natural. It doesn’t put anything into the body and it doesn’t take anything out of the body. Obviously when the center of gravity moves forward and we start to get those muscles tightening, they will pull the bones out of alignment or what we call subluxate and those spines need to be corrected. Most moms get a lot of discomfort relief with the adjustments. We do adjustments. Some moms will get off of the table and immediately feel better. Some moms need a series, but on average we will work with a mom throughout the entire pregnancy to make sure that she has minimal discomfort, the best baby positioning and the mechanics of her pelvic girdle are the best to get that baby out through the birth canal without any interference. That’s really what it’s all about.
Lower back pain can be helped with chiropractic. That’s been established, and thousands of people go to chiropractors daily and get help with lower back pain, but it’s so much more than that because when you really think about what the spine and the nerve system do, it’s not about sensing pain and moving muscle. It’s truly about organizing, and every stage of growth and development in the infant is controlled by that infant’s nerve system. Every stage of pregnancy is all monitored by the mom’s nerve system and when those bones get out of alignment, they’ll irritate the nerves and change the way the nerve system communicates, and that causes problems. It’s not just about pain, but to answer your question briefly, absolutely. Lots of moms get a lot of relief.
The best part about it is, with chiropractic you’re not taking any medication. You can’t take drugs when you’re pregnant because aspirin and whatever other medications you take will cross the placenta and start to affect the baby, so the baby is taking aspirin or painkillers before anything happens, even before the baby is born, so it’s really important that the mom stay as natural as possible without using any types of drugs or any other interventions. So absolutely, we can help them with the pain and discomfort of pregnancy, but that’s not the only reason to see a chiropractor.
Can prenatal chiropractic care help prepare the fetus and the woman’s body for childbirth?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely, because pregnancy and birth are a natural process and chiropractic just supports that natural process. We work with the body’s ability to adapt and function the way it is designed to. Chiropractic in pregnancy is vital to the normal physiologic function of both the mother and the baby in pregnancy and birth. The potential benefits for the mom, well, it prepares for a pelvis for an easier pregnancy and birth by creating a state of balance in the pelvic bony structures, muscles and ligaments. It removes any type of torsion or twisting of the ligaments that support the uterus, thus potentially reducing aberrant tension in the uterus. It reduces interference in the mother’s vital nerve system, which controls and coordinates all of her systems and functions. By improving maternal function, we’re decreasing the potential for unnecessary interventions in both the pregnancy and the birth process.
The benefits to the infant? Reducing mom’s interference to her nerve system allows the baby to develop in a happier environment. If the mom is stressed and sick, the environment that the baby is developing in is a stressed and sick environment, and that’s not going to be good. Proper pelvic balance allows for baby greater room to develop without restrictions to its forming cranium and spine and other skeletal structures. It offers the baby room to move into the best possible position for birth. With proper fetal positioning, there’s a significant decrease in dystocia which is difficult prolonged labor, and resulting in less birth trauma caused by interventions.
There’s just lots of different things that are a benefit to the baby and the mom that are available through chiropractic care with minimal side effects or almost none, really. It’s very safe and effective, and it’s just a great way. I’m working now with lots of doulas and OB/GYNs and prenatal yoga centers. I’m getting tons of referrals because they understand that it’s important for both the mother and the baby, so the word is out and people are sending a lot more patients to chiropractors for this type of work.
To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call 917-534-6484 to schedule an appointment