Whether you’re expecting your first baby or your fifth, your body has to go through some amazing changes over the course of a pregnancy.
Changes in weight, centre of gravity, and laxity of joints, may leave you feeling a little off-kilter. Regular exercise and a trip to your chiropractor may be just the thing you need to help keep your body healthy, balanced, and pain-free during pregnancy.
Historically, mothers-to-be were discouraged from physical activity, however we now know that exercise is essential for adapting to the physical changes of pregnancy and building stamina for the birthing process.
In addition to being good for overall health, moderate exercise, defined as 30 minutes per day most days of the week, has been shown to improve mom’s mood, reduce pain, improve sleep quality, lower blood pressure, and decrease the chance of developing gestational diabetes.
Studies also suggest that women who exercised during pregnancy tolerate the birth process better, and have an easier time losing weight after the baby is born.
The benefits aren’t just for mom, though. Babies born to exercising mothers have a decreased chance of being overweight at birth, and appear to reap the cardiac benefits that mothers get from exercise.
One study showed that women who exercised during pregnancy had babies that were more alert and less needy of attention than babies born to women who did not exercise while pregnant.
In general, if you exercised prior to pregnancy, you can maintain your level of activity, although modifications may need to be made as your body changes shape.
If you’re new to exercise, you’ll want to start out slowly. Ten to 15 minutes of low-impact exercise, like walking or swimming, is a good place to start. You can increase duration as you become more fit.
Yoga or pilates, instructed by practitioners familiar with pregnancy modification, are amazing and appropriate options. No matter how you decide to move your body, every woman should consult with her healthcare provider before starting exercise.
During pregnancy, a mother’s spine and pelvis are required to go through many changes to provide room for the baby’s growth. If there are joints which are not moving properly as the body adapts, pain and discomfort may result.
A chiropractor assesses the body for joints displaying improper motion (known as ‘subluxation’) and will gently restore the full range of motion to these areas with a chiropractic adjustment.
As proper biomechanics are restored, the nervous system is free to function optimally. A balanced nervous system allows for a myriad of health benefits, and greater communication between mom and baby!
As expected, there are benefits for baby as well. The growing uterus is suspended within the pelvis by ligaments. If the pelvis is not balanced, the ligaments may pull unevenly, placing the uterus in a state of torsion.
Torsion in the uterus decreases the amount of room for growth, and the baby may seek out a new position to increase his/her comfort that may be less ideal for mom’s comfort.
When a chiropractor restores balance to the pelvis using a special technique, known as the Webster Technique, the uterus is able to enlarge symmetrically. When this happens, the baby will have optimal room for development and naturally assumes the proper position for birth often.
Whether you’ve been a patient previously or are new to chiropractic, pregnancy is a wonderful time to experience the comforts of a balanced body. Combine those benefits with the additional benefits from exercise and your incredible, ever-changing body will be better equipped for the journey ahead.
Right now is the perfect time to start taking care of your body, your health, and the health of your new baby!