Photos: Eric & Jamie
Thank you to Friends & Family Health Centers in Homewood for partnering with me on this post!
The chiropractor has been a game changer for me this pregnancy as I’ve shared in my bumpdates all along! When I first started sharing about back pain during pregnancy, some of you reached out and told me I should try a chiropractor. I was hesitant because I’ve heard good and less than positive things so I didn’t want to just go to anyone.
When one of my personal friends from college reached out and said she went to Friends and Family Health Centers in Homewood during her pregnancy and highly recommended them, I knew I had to go in and see if they could help my back. I have been amazed at the relief they have given me throughout pregnancy with braxton hicks contractions, sciatic pain as well as back pain and other general issues from tight muscles and ligaments from working out and even helping my lock jaw. Whether you are pregnant or not, your first appointment at Friends and Family begins with a consult to discuss problem areas. If you aren’t pregnant, they will take an x-ray to see what is physically causing any pain or discomfort. I love how intentional they are about customizing each appointment to meet the needs of the patient – truly the best!
Lots of you reached out with questions for my pregnancy chiropractor so I asked them to answer them all for you below. If you are here in Birmingham, I hope you’ll try out Friends and Family and let them know I sent you. They are fabulous! I have been to Dr. John, Dr. Ray, and Dr. Helena personally and also appreciate that they do muscle works when I need it.
Pregnancy Chiropractor Q&A
How do you pick a good chiro?
Its tough to give a straight-forward answer to this question, because different people respond best to different chiropractors. There are many ways to practice chiropractic. In fact, there are over 300 different recognized techniques. This fact is both great and complicating. On one hand, it allows the doctor to pick what technique works best for that patient. But on the other, it may steer someone away from chiropractic if their first encounter is with someone who practices a technique they find disagreeable.
That said, here are some general tips:
- The office should have a large number of positive reviews. Read through them and see what the patients are saying.
- The chiropractor’s methods should be science-based. They should perform a physical exam to determine what the problem is, not just “crack” you in all directions. In populations where it is safe (not pediatrics, not pregnancy) x-ray analysis should be utilized both to give the doctor a more accurate and specific view on what is going on and, most importantly, to ensure that it is absolutely safe to adjust the patient.
- If you have a specific issue (IE pregnancy) make sure that the chiropractor is trained in this area and sees patients with the same issue on a regular basis.
- A good chiropractor LISTENS. It is a lost skill in the health world. If your doctor rushes you through your sentences and is already thinking about the next patient before you your conversation has even begun its time to find someone else.
Extra training for pregnancy?
While all chiropractors receive extensive training in all types of patient care from pregnancy to pediatric to geriatric, there is additional training that some doctors elect to undergo. The most common type for pregnancy is a certification in the Webster Protocol. This method has been time-tested to help mothers achieve the best possible alignment of the pelvis, with then optimizes the space that the baby has to find the best position both for the pregnancy and especially for the delivery.
You can learn more about the Webster Certification at www.ICPA4kids.org
Taking babies to chiropractors?
Babies absolutely can benefit from chiropractic care. Birth is the first trauma. As beautiful and amazing as it is, it can be physically stressful on the baby. There can be a startling amount of pulling and twisting forces applied directly to the baby’s head during delivery. During this time the vertebrae of the infant, most commonly in the neck, can become fixated or misaligned. The entire spinal cord, containing EVERY spinal nerve controlling almost everything in the body, passes through the Atlas. Atlas is C1, or the upper-most vertebrae of the spine. Consider the fact that pressure amounting to the weight of a dime can reduce nerve transmission efficiency by 60%. There are infinite potential problems that can arise from vertebrae being fixated or misaligned, and the higher up the spine, the more functions can potentially be affected. Many people picture the scenario of the patient crawling into the office with screaming pain down their leg or something of that nature. While we do commonly see this type of patient, the majority of misalignments are what we call silent. That is, there is no extreme outward sign that there is a problem at that area, but rather there is a subtle and gradual decrease in function that occurs over time. This is due to the decrease in communication between the nervous system and the affected part. Sometimes it is a more obvious problem with babies, such as the inability to turn their head fully to one side or the other, causing latching difficulties. Sometimes the problem is more subtle. It takes a trained eye to spot these issues in little ones because they have a limited ability to tell you what is wrong.
We see lots of babies. Babies are my favorite population to treat because they are so responsive to adjustments. Their nervous systems just love adjustments. It helps with their ability to nourish, to move, to grow and develop properly. Most people think of the brain as the control center. For the most part, it is, but the brain also absolutely requires input FROM the body through movement of the spine and extremities in order to trigger many many critical developmental milestones. When the body is not moving properly, the brain may not get the signal and this is currently viewed as a contributing cause to certain developmental disorders.
Are we technically treating any of these conditions? Colic, reflux, insomnia, ear infections, sensory issues, etc etc? No. What we do is align the spine and / or the extremities so that there is no longer interference in the nervous system’s communication with the body. The baby is the one doing the healing.
The knowledge that I am helping this little bug develop into the beautiful little person they were meant to be just brightens the whole day!
What can a chiropractor do to help with SI joint pain during pregnacy? / Does chiro work to better prepare your body for labor and delivery?
This is a problem that we hear about and treat every single week. During pregnancy the body produces a hormone called relaxin. This hormone causes the mother’s ligaments (the connective tissue that connects adjacent bones) to become more elastic. The purpose of this change is to allow the pelvis to change shape and expend in order to accommodate the coming delivery. While this is a good thing for the pregnancy, the increase in ligament laxity can predispose the mother to painful misalignments in the pelvis. These misalignments can sometimes even cause sharp shooting pain into the legs. Often these misalignments can be addressed a few visits. Sometimes it takes more. But it is generally better to stay under care throughout the pregnancy so we can correct these problems while they are small and maintain the alignment throughout. After all, the pelvic alignment is also quite important for giving the baby the best possible space to pass through the birth canal. Further, when you are in pain your body produces stress hormones and other unhealthy chemicals. When you consider the fact that the baby shares your blood supply you can see the importance of keeping Mommy comfortable. If the Mommy feels good, the baby feels good.
***Remember, it is important to extend your care 2-3 weeks past the due date. This allows your doctor time to address any problems that arose during the delivery. It is important to get back in as soon as you feel able, as the longer you wait, the less relaxin is in your system and the more difficult it will be to correct the misalignments.
How often do you have to go to the chiropractor?
The frequency of chiropractic visits depends on what is going on in your particular body. Most assume that the appearance of a symptom marks the beginning of that problem. This is typically not true. Your body is always compensating for the less than ideal conditions it is subjected to. Therefore an old injury, or even a chronic behavior, can lead to a dysfunction that take years or even decades to become symptomatic. That said, it is the dysfunction that is the problem, not the symptom. The dysfunction likely took a long time to develop and will thus not be something that goes away overnight or even in a few visits. You may notice that in the very beginning (though this will change) your adjustments will only hold for 12-72hours. The reason for this is there is a sort of memory that your body has of where all of its parts go. This is what some chiropractors refer to as your pattern. It takes a higher frequency of visits at the beginning of your care to establish momentum and overcome the old patterns. Over time, your old dysfunctional patterns will give way to new and healthy patterns and you will hold your adjustments longer and longer, requiring lower and lower frequency of visits.
“What’s something chiropractors wish we knew that we could do to help our bodies outside of the office?”
“Can seeing a chiropractor help with carpal tunnel?” @ashmichelle7
“Is it safe to twist and pop your own back while pregnant?” @rachellauren22
“Do they do any type of massaging (like for your neck muscles) or is it all “popping and adjusting?” @lauracomer87
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