Written By: Gabrielle Gray, DC
As constant observers, we are always trying to improve the level of care we provide. We started noticing common things that would come up when we met patients during their postpartum time that they wished they had known during pregnancy. To provide the best outcomes possible, we started bringing these topics into our regular prenatal care at FLOW Chiropractic.
Regular Chiropractic Care
The Webster Technique is a specific chiropractic treatment developed to be used specifically during pregnancy. By focusing on all three components (muscles, bones and ligaments) that directly attach to, or affect the uterus, we are able to globally enhance the functionality and mobility of Mom’s pelvis. Think of it this way– If Mom’s pelvis is able to function properly, it allows mom to be more comfortable and also baby is able to find the best position possible. Each person is different and treatment may vary depending on your situation; but we typically see Mom once monthly until she reaches the third trimester, then we increase visit frequency. We also will give stretches and exercises to enhance your pregnancy! The ICPA provides the training to Chiropractors for this technique and they are full of great resources and studies demonstrating the efficacy of this technique during pregnancy.
Breathing during labor is a common tool used in teaching methods such as Lamaze. However, many women have missed out on incorporating breath work into activities before baby gets here which can help improve core function. During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles actually separate to make room for baby- which can make them weak. Our core is our main stability center, so helping it to work with us instead of against us is a must. I am not talking about doing 100 crunches a day- in fact that is exactly what I do not want you to do. Instead, focus on using your breath to help you accomplish simple movements you are already doing. For example, inhaling while bending down, exhaling when you stand. Or exhaling when you pick up the carseat, the toddler, dog food, anything! Exhaling activates your abdominal muscles and allows us to better use our muscles throughout the day.
Pelvic floor PT
Our pelvic floor gets a lot of attention during pregnancy and labor, but can be forgotten during the postpartum period. Ensuring proper healing after labor is essential not only for functionality of your pelvis but for breathing as well! Our pelvic floor makes up the bottom of our “breathing canister” and actually helps us to breathe properly! An assessment of the pelvic floor/ breathing canister by a pelvic floor PT can be the difference maker in the healing journey. We always recommend that our patients ask their OB/GYN or Midwife for a referral to pelvic floor PT during pregnancy to check on the pelvic floor’s function before birth. In the postpartum period, we also recommend asking for a referral for pelvic floor PT at your 6-week check up. This is a critical period for healing and is the standard of care in other countries. Our West Michigan community is full of great pelvic floor PTs that we wholeheartedly recommend to our patients!
Fun fact: how you nourish yourself has been proven to shape your baby’s health not only as an infant but all the way through their life! Scientists have found that the food we eat during pregnancy can alter their DNA in a meaningful way for the rest of their lives. Paying attention to how we are fueling our body during pregnancy can seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be! We encourage patients to get their nutrients via whole food and trusted sources whenever possible. Our favorite resource is Lily Nichols’ book, “Real Food for Pregnancy”. Think of your pregnancy as the training period for a big event, like a marathon! You would want to dial in nutrition, sleep, and exercise to be ready for that race. Labor and delivery are equally worthy of training for! Postpartum is also a key time for nutrition and in fact, we need more calories, nutrients, and protein for healing and for milk production if mom chooses to breastfeed. Lily discusses this in her postpartum chapter in her book. We also refer to the Postnatal Depletion Cure book by Dr. Oscar Serrallach.
Remaining active throughout pregnancy is not only beneficial for Mom but also for baby! Exercise strengthens the pelvic floor and improves oxygen capacity for Mom which can help during labor. Outside of physical benefits, exercise improves mental and emotional effects helping to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Specifically, prenatal yoga has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, stress, sleeping problems, and low back pain. Baby also gets a boost of oxygen circulation from exercising which has been shown to improve brain and nervous system development.
Of course there is more to each of these components, but these are 5 fantastic ways to reduce pregnancy symptoms, improve recovery and help baby out after birth! Our patients know, and now you do too!
Prenatal Chiropractic Care:
Pelvic floor PT:
- Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols, RD