Within the first few weeks of conceiving the hormonal levels change, causing the smooth muscles to relax, which effects digestive motility and vascular tone. The changes in oestrogen levels cause uterine expansion, breast development and alters the constitution of connective tissues, increasing their pliability, in preparation for the enlarging foetus and eventual birth.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, the foetus is well cushioned within the mother’s bony pelvis and within the foetal membranes and amniotic fluid. One might surmise that the larger the ‘bump’ the more discomfort the mother experiences, but, in fact studies show that back pain is most common in the first trimester probably due to the vast changes occurring due to the altered hormonal levels.
As the pregnancy progresses and the baby enlarges the amount of available space decreases and the baby has less room to move around and the stresses throughout the baby and maternal spines increase. Low back pain during pregnancy is common and can often be related to misalignment of the mother’s pelvis, which is already under increased strain from the increased abdominal weight. Pelvic or low back misalignment can be present in many different ways including pain around the base of the spine (coccyx), in the small of the back, at the front around the pubic bone or as ‘sciatica’.
Some pregnant women do not suffer with back pain but nevertheless benefit from maximising function of the spine and pelvis, balancing the ligaments and muscles and preparing for birth through gentle exercises and advice.
Studies show that 50-90% of women experience back pain during pregnancy and the majority of pregnant women who underwent chiropractic care received relief from back pain. Pelvic pain is the most common source of back pain and 91% of pregnant women received relief from manipulation of their sacro-iliac joints. In addition those women who received chiropractic treatment in their third trimester decreased the need for analgesics during delivery by 50%. Plus it has been shown that women undergoing chiropractic treatment during their pregnancy had on average a significantly less time spent in labour – 24% less in first time mums and 39% less in 2nd and 3rd time mothers.
Catherine Silcock works from the Barron Clinic in Walton on Thames. Her focus is on the care of the pregnant woman and child, working to ensure a better health and a positive outlook during pregnancy and the early years. In following editions of the NCT newsletter she will be writing articles on colic, cranial work and other specific paediatric issues. She can be contacted daily at the clinic on 01932 227 360.
From the team at Barron Chiropractic Clinic - celebrating 30 years of providing natural healthcare to the people of Walton-on-Thames