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Pregnancy is one of the ultimate times of change for many women, on a physical, biochemical, and emotional level. The physical transformation is certainly very significant, including weight gain, postural changes, and hormonal changes throughout the process. The increased stresses and demands on the body may result in some degree of discomfort and may vary among the pregnant moms. The women who were experiencing body discomforts prior to pregnancy may notice an exacerbation (worsening) of symptoms.
According to Institute of Medicine guidelines, the average weight gain for a woman with a healthy pre-pregnancy BMI range is between 25-35 pounds, which varies for underweight pre-pregnant women (28-40 pounds), overweight pre-pregnant women (11-20 pounds), and women carrying multiples. It is important to know a mom’s pre-pregnant BMI range to best determine what the expected weight gain should be and make lifestyle changes accordingly. Excess weight gain can be associated with serious medical conditions: gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, longer labor times, and increased likelihood for medical interventions, such as induced labor and Cesarean section.
A woman’s posture throughout pregnancy will continually change in order to accommodate the body for the growing fetus. The postural changes are heavily influenced by the secretion of pregnancy hormones, which allow for relaxation of ligaments that support the skeletal structure of the body, especially important in the pelvis during the pregnancy and labor. The woman’s center of gravity will begin to shift forward, even before there is noticeable “baby bump.” In addition, the curves of the spine will start changing with baby’s growth and mother’s weight gain. The curvature in the low back will be increased as the belly continues to protrude forward, which will cause additional stress on the discs between the vertebrae. Subsequently, the curvature of the upper back will increase as well in order to compensate for the load on the lower back.
Although, all of these changes in the body are part of the natural process of pregnancy, it is important for a woman to maintain a healthy (although altered) balanced posture in order to avoid discomfort and pain, prevent injury, and allow the body to transition back into its non-pregnant state post-partum. Accommodating the growing baby within the abdomen and pelvis with appropriately enabled motion also allows for high instance of proper fetal positioning, less complications during labor and birth, and lower instance of delivery with use of instruments.
Chiropractic aids in correcting body’s imbalances, evident in neuromusculoskeletal misalignments and overcompensations in posture, especially critical during pregnancy. The presence of these misalignments, vertebral subluxations, will interfere with the nervous system’s ability to communicate with the body through distorted brain messages. Chiropractic offers a safe, gentle, hands-on approach to combat pregnancy discomforts, such as nausea, heartburn, constipation, back pain, pubic pain, and others. Being under regular chiropractic care will allow for a subluxation-free pregnancy without joint and nerve dysfunction, allowing the body to transition through the stages of pregnancy and prepare for a successful birth experience with a properly aligned spine. Allowing the nervous system to meet its challenges with less overall stress will be able to improve the chances of healthier pregnancy naturally.
Chiropractic care continues to be important after childbirth, especially in the 2-3 months following delivery, as the pregnancy hormones start to decrease making the loosened ligaments more tight again. Helping reestablish a balanced posture post-partum will prevent pregnancy-induced neuromusculoskeletal problem, such as muscle tension, headaches, upper or lower back pain, shoulder problems, rib problems, and more.
Improving health and well-being from inside out can be facilitated through your local chiropractor, with additional support through proper movement, nutrition and ergonomics recommendations, which will help you make significant strides to prepare the body for yourself and your baby.
So in order to make the healthy pregnancy a more comfortable and enjoyable experience, here are a few recommendations to consider:
Movement: Maintaining an active lifestyle will help prevent discomfort throughout and after the pregnancy. Exercising at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes of moderate activity would be ideal. There is a number of low-impact activity choices, such as walking, swimming, stationary cycling, mild jogging (if already a runner), prenatal yoga, gentle stretching, and more. It is important to bring up the heart rate, but not above 140 beats per minute. If experiencing any discomfort, severe pain or other unusual symptoms, discontinue exercise and notify your doctor before continuing. Also, allow yourself the necessary rest, not only during exercise, but in general. Take a nap when tired, elevate your feet when you need a break, and ask for help without exerting yourself.
Nutrition: Nutrient-dense foods are needed for the growth and development of the mother and the baby, which includes essentials, such as protein, calcium, omega-3s, iron, B vitamins (folate), vitamin C, fiber, zinc, and magnesium. Drinking water is necessary for increased demand on the body, enough hydration, increased blood volume and healthy blood cells, breast milk production, and keeping the body at the optimum temperature (especially important during the hot summer months). Avoid processed foods, sugars, stimulants, caffeine, alcohol, and drugs.
Ergonomics: Wear sensible shoes that are supportive and sturdy, allow for proper support, and are comfortable. (Ladies, give your high heels a break!) You also want to prevent any possibility of injury and/or falls. Remember proper procedures when lifting, even if it’s your baby, by bending your knees, turning at the waist and not the head, and avoiding excessive weight; again, ask for help! During sleep, lying on the side is the ideal position with a pillow between the knees and extra support against the back (full-length body pillows come highly recommended at my practice!). Use proper ergonomics at your desk or workstation for limited discomfort and take frequent breaks every 30 minutes away from your seated position by walking and stretching.
Best wishes as you venture out on your pregnancy! We are here to help you through the process and welcome your healthy, happy baby into the world!
Be healthy & happy, Dr. Tijana
If you do not already have a local chiropractor, call Dr. Tijana at 706.254.4579 to schedule your first appointment for YOU & YOUR FAMILY for a comprehensive health assessment TODAY!