Alleviating the Pain and Discomfort of Pregnancy
Pregnancy is often a time filled with joy and excitement at the prospect of bringing new life into the world. A woman’s body undergoes many changes during this nine-month period. Sometimes the changes may trigger aches, pains, and general discomfort.
But expectant mothers don’t have to “grin and bear it” or suffer in silence; there are some ways to alleviate the pain and discomfort.
“About half of the pregnant women that we see are existing patients who incorporate chiropractic treatment as part of their wellness programs. We also receive referrals from midwives since women who are pregnant often want to avoid taking medications. Chiropractic is a more natural approach to better health,” explains Dr. Rochelle Casses, Casses Chiropractic Clinic, Carlisle.
Casses points out that people seek chiropractic treatment for many different reasons. Some seek treatment to manage a condition, while for others it is part of their wellness program. Ideally a woman should have chiropractic treatments pre-pregnancy; the pelvis will be aligned more the way it should be, and the woman’s body will be more used to treatments (the muscles will be more relaxed).
Chiropractic treatments keep the hip and pelvis aligned.
“Many times people’s hips, pelvis, and lumbar spine [the lower back area where the spine curves inward toward the abdomen] don’t move as they should due to falls or other injuries when they were younger,” Casses says.
The lumbar spine is important because the spinal nerves transmit messages from the spinal cord to various areas, including organs such as the uterus. Thus, it’s critical to have the lumbar spine area functioning as well as possible during pregnancy.
Another benefit of chiropractic for pregnant women is increased mobility.
“Since the muscles are used in a more balanced way, and their bodies are more flexible, delivery can be easier,” Casses says.
Each pregnancy is different, and even throughout the pregnancy, as a woman’s body changes and the baby’s position changes, discomfort or pain can occur. Casses says that sometimes changes in the baby’s position can create sciatic pain.
That pain is something that can be alleviated by chiropractic treatment. She says that chiropractic adjustments can be done right up to the time a woman gives birth.
Casses also suggests follow-up after delivery.
“You’re beat up after giving birth; it’s often very strenuous. You may have had a [Caesarian] section, have been in the hospital for a time, or have been in one position for quite a while. Some women will be in our office within days after delivery, especially those who have made chiropractic part of their wellness routine. If [the new mom] is nursing, she may be hesitant to take medication for pain,” Casses says.
Massages are also a way to provide relief from pain and discomfort during pregnancy. Carrington Williams, a licensed massage therapist with Emerald Springs Spa, says that maternity massages can be done at almost any point during a pregnancy after the first trimester. The first trimester is a high-risk time for miscarriages.
“Our main concern is that both mom and baby are safe. Before we start the massage, we have expecting moms fill out a form that asks about common issues of pregnancy. If they’re in a high-risk situation or have issues such as preeclampsia, we ask that they get a doctor’s OK before doing a massage,” she explains, adding that Emerald Springs’ licensed massage therapists undergo special training to perform maternity massages.
Emerald Springs’ maternity massage is slightly different from the spa’s traditional massages.
“Our maternity massage is our signature therapeutic massage; the difference is in the positioning,” Williams says.
During a traditional massage, women lie flat on their backs and may sometimes turn on their stomachs. During a maternity massage, a large wedge placed at the base of the back is used to help position the expectant mom, so she’s more in a sitting position or she can lie on her side using a belly pillow or neck pillow.
There are certain types of spa treatments that should be avoided during pregnancy, such as body wraps and hot stone massage, which, although soothing and relaxing, raise body temperature, something not recommended for pregnant women. Emerald Springs Spa does not use essential oils during a maternity massage, since there is a possibility that some could have an effect on the baby.
“During the massage, we focus on any specific area that a woman mentions. A lot of times it’s the lower back, hips, and feet. Sometimes moms-to-be come in to relieve stress or for a bit of pampering—remember that during pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through so many changes,” Williams says.
After the massage, moms-to-be feel more relaxed and de-stressed. Williams says it can be especially nice to have the bit of pampering if the mom-to-be has other children at home.
“Work stress coupled with hormonal and body changes can be challenging in and of themselves. If a mom-to-be also has other children at home to take care of, that adds a bit more to the mix,” she says, adding that massage can be done during labor and has been proven to help ease labor discomfort.
So don’t grin, and don’t bear it—there are some non-drug alternatives for women to turn to when they experience pain and discomfort during pregnancy. BW