"How Chiropractic & Proper Exercise Together can Benefit a Woman During Pregnancy & Postpartum":
As a Certified Personal Trainer, mother to a 19-month-old, and the wife of a Chiropractic Physician, I know first-hand the amazing benefits a mother-to-be can receive from regular chiropractic care and proper exercises during and after pregnancy. I had a comfortable, easy, amazing pregnancy – I felt great the whole time! – because my body was balanced and my nervous system was functioning at 100%. I personally have seen tremendous results in my clients and myself when incorporating chiropractic and exercise during pregnancy. I stayed active throughout my whole pregnancy, biking up until 3 weeks prior to the birth. Yoga and Pilates continued (with modifications) up until just days before, and then the basic principles of Yoga through labor. I received weekly chiropractic care and massages.
Most people think of chiropractic for back or neck pain, but the true art lies much deeper then that. Chiropractors study the body - the way it moves, and the problems that arise when it doesn't move properly. They are experts on the nervous system, which is housed in the spinal cord within the spine. They specialize in facilitating proper movement of the spine (and the rest of the body) which allows the nervous system to function at 100%. Remember, the nervous system controls everything in our bodies, from the heart & blood flow to muscles, tissues, and organs (liver, lungs,etc), to the way our cells re-grow. If something is not functioning properly, we may or may not feel it or notice it. A good example is a heart attack - for most people, the first sign that they are having heart attack is that they are dead!
For me, I wanted to make sure my body was in balance and most importantly, that my unborn baby was getting everything it needed from my body to grow properly. Chiropractic care is a priority from me.
I specialize in prenatal and postnatal fitness, which incorporates mostly Yoga and Pilates-based principles, strength-training and cardiovascular exercise designed especially for the pregnant woman. Every pregnancy is different for each woman, and an experienced personal trainer and chiropractor must take into consideration the many changes to the body that occur during pregnancy, including physical, chemical & mental.
The chiropractor and personal trainer can work together to balance the pelvis and the spine for a pregnant woman. A balanced pelvis comes from a strong core, which will help support the growing uterus. If the body is not balanced, the pelvic ligaments could over-contract, causing the baby to shift into an undesirable presentation and can cause the mother pain/discomfort. Even if there is no pain, the imbalanced ligaments can cause an altered center of gravity and affect proprioception, leading to possibly many complaints.
In order to balance the pelvis, the chiropractor will facilitate proper motion in the spine and the trainer will coach the mother to strengthen the surrounding muscles of the pelvic floor, abdominals and spinal muscles. Although the mother might receive chiropractic care, and spinal misalignment are corrected, it will be temporary if the muscles are not corrected also. Proper key movement patterns will help hold chiropractic adjustments longer, keeping mother and baby balanced and comfortable.
While I was pregnant, I designed a Prenatal Fitness class, which I still teach today. I encourage every pregnant woman to find one and participate in it! All the moms-to-be credit my class to providing them with an outlet for physical activity, mental clarity, emotional support and social interaction.
My class incorporates Yoga and Pilates, which both teach body awareness, and promotes an increase in strength, flexibility, mobility, balance. This is especially important during pregnancy. As the mother’s body changes during pregnancy, the spine takes on the toll of these postural changes. As her belly grows larger, she might have a tendency to over extend the lumbar curve in the low back. This could cause tight low back muscles and tight hip flexors. To maintain a center of gravity, the thoracic spine might flex more with rounded shoulders and a forward head posture, resulting in tight neck extensors. Upper-cross/lower-cross syndrome is very common among pregnant women. Pilates utilizes your core stabilizing muscles (transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, internal and external obliques, multifidis, and spinal rotators) to keep the spinal curves in a neutral position which will alleviate many of the pregnancy discomforts. Take SI (sacroiliac) joint pain for instance: It can be caused by the additional weight of the baby out in front. Because the center of gravity is off, there might be an altered gait pattern and increased lordosis. Along with chiropractic care, Pilates can help balance the low back muscles to decrease the lordosis, thus alleviating the pain. Exercises that focus on shoulder stabilization combined with chiropractic will help mom after baby is born. Properly strengthening neck, shoulder and upper back muscles will prepare her body for picking up, carrying and breastfeeding baby.
|LEFT: Proper posture, RIGHT: Upper-Cross/Lower-Cross Syndrome|
Proper breathing is a huge component of both Pilates and Yoga. As the baby and uterus grows larger, it will start to push up on the diaphragm. This results in shortness of breath/difficulty of breathing. Many mothers then resort to shallow, chest breathing instead of deep belly breathing. Shallowly breathing into the upper portion of the lungs prevents full oxygen exchange. It also overuses the accessory breathing muscles creating tension in the neck and shoulders. The more focused the breath is, the more relaxed the mother will be, the more oxygen will be supplied to her body as well as the baby and placenta. Deep breathing and relaxation that comes with Yoga can help relieve STRESS! Stress is a main contributor to: high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, fatigue and/or insomnia, headaches and irritability. If the mother can relieve stress, she can avoid many other health issues to herself and the unborn baby.
The relaxation and meditation that I teach in my Prenatal Fitness class helps with labor and delivery. Whatever childbirth method the mother decides to use, they all have a common factor of focus, concentration, breathing and visualization, which we work on in our class. Many say that when the mother can visualized and meditate on her birth, it often goes much smoother and quicker, with less of a chance for complications.
Any reasons NOT to visit your chiropractor and personal trainer???
COMING SOON - My favorite exercises and stretches for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms! Keep checking back in!