In several studies it has been shown that women who receive chiropractic adjustments in their third trimester of pregnancy were able to carry and deliver children with more comfort.
Woman Have Special Needs During Pregnancy
During pregnancy many physiological and endocrinological changes take place all for the purpose of creating the optimum environment for the developing baby. The musculoskeletal systems are affected by the protruding abdomen, duck-like walk, and increased lower back curve. The pelvis changes early in pregnancy due to the release of estrogen and/or relaxin. These hormones cause the ligaments to relax and soften which widens the pelvic joints as well as other joints. As the uterus enlarges the center of gravity is displaced. Fixations of the spine may occur and result in muscle cramps and nerve pain. 50% of all women complain of low back pain. Fixations in the neck may be caused as it compensates for the changes in the lower spine by moving forward. This can result in symptoms like headaches, nausea or insomnia.
What is a Chriopractic Adjustment?
Vertebrae fit together so that “nerve supply” produced in the brain may filter down the spinal cord and out through the nerves. When vertebrae are out of their natural alignment, nerves become stretched or twisted (“pinched”) and this vital communication system in the body is disrupted. This is called a subluxation or fixation and it may result in the dysfunction of one or more parts of the body, as well as health in general. The doctor of chiropractic detects and corrects these fixations so that normal body function can be restored. This process may take weeks or months, depending on the amount of misalignment.
Preventative Care During Pregnancy
Posture- Correct posture involves tilting the pelvis backwards, tucking the buttocks under, holding the abdomen in as well as possible, lifting the chest and tucking the chin in slightly. The shoulders should be slightly back and relaxed. Don’t adapt a sway back which can develop to compensate for the forward weight gain.
Exercise- On a regular basis, performing non-impact aerobic and stretching exercises. Walking and swimming are good. Caution should be taken riding a bicycle beyond six months due to altered postural balance.
- Pelvic floor muscles can be strengthened
- Pelvic tilt (gluteul muscles) exercises
Lifting – Avoid lifting, pushing, pulling heavy objects.
Regular rest breaks and sleep- Lying on your back with knees bent and feet up in the early stages, and in later stages on your side. A pillow between your knees or beneath your abdomen to support the weight of the baby may increase comfort in the hips or back.
Caring for babies
Caring for babies involves a lot of lifting, carrying and stooping over beds. It can take up to 5 months for these loose ligaments to tighten up after birth, so if you are a new mother you are particularly vulnerable to developing back strain from weak or overstretched stomach muscles, poor posture or faulty lifting.
- Things like baby baths and nappy changing tables should be at the right height for you ie. a little below elbow level, alternatively you can alter your stance.
- It is better to have a cot with a side that can be lowered down, since this saves you from having to bend over and pick the baby up.
- Whenever you do pick the baby up from the ground, rather rise up from your haunches, keeping the baby’s weight close to you.
- Carry the baby in a carrier on your back preferably instead of in a sling in front because that imposes a strain similar to that of pregnancy except now the baby is somewhat heavier.
- If you are pushing baby in a pram or pushchair make sure the handles are long enough or buy extension handles.
A painful back may cause you to offload some resentment onto your child without realizing it. Your child is happiest when you are happy. A well-planned environment makes parenthood and babyhood much more enjoyable.
What is colic?
Infantile colic was first described as indigestion. Different diagnostic criteria have emerged since then but there has never been complete agreement on what it is, what causes it, or how to treat it. The most widely accepted definition of colic today is “unexplainable and uncontrollable crying in babies from 0-3 months old, more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for 3 weeks or more, usually in the afternoon and evening hours.”
Who suffers from colic?
Roughly between 8% and 49% of newborns suffer from colic, or an estimated average of 22%. The onset is usually at 3 weeks and is regarded as self limiting, disappearing spontaneously at 3months of age. Some studies however have shown that symptoms can persist until 6 and even 12months of age.
What are the causes of colic?
There is no general consensus on what actually causes colic. The following are a few possibilities and associations of aggravations.
Method of delivery (Vaginal, Caesarian section or vacuum extraction) and use of epidural or general anesthesia or intravenous oxytocin…
Food intolerance or allergy from foods ingested by the mother and transferred through her breast milk has been implicated as a possible cause. Substances include dairy (lactose intolerance), soy protein, caffeine, eggs, sugar, chocolate, wheat, food additives and colourings, citrus fruits, peanuts, corn and berries, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, peppers and beans. Other irritating foods and substances may include onions and spices, soya bean, cigarette smoke or drugs.
Cow’s milk has been suspected as a culprit in infantile colic. In a study designed to help investigate whether alternative formulas may help ease colic results showed that infants receiving a whey formula (a byproduct of cheese manufacturing) cried an average of 63 minutes less per day than infants receiving standard cow’s milk formula.
Hunger / poor feeding may result from inadequate milk supply form the mother or poor feeding technique for eg. From the infant not attaching to the nipple correctly. Alternatively the infant may suffer from overfeeding as the mother might try to console or quieten it (colicky babies can sometimes be overweight for this reason).
Wind or air may be sucked into the stomach as the infant feeds and this air ingestion can be aggravated when it is crying. Ensure a proper size opening in the nipple and frequent burping. If a feed takes less than 20minutes then new teats with smaller holes should be tried.
Gastric reflux possibly contributed by poor spinal function can be relieved by placing the infant in a more upright position or changing the incline of the carry cot.
Underlying illness eg. Bacterial or viral infection, bowel obstruction and malabsorption must be ruled out.
Maternal anxiety and parental response can play a role.
In most of the above cases a pediatrician is usually consulted first and if symptoms prevail, chiropractic care is then recommended.
What are some of the symptoms of colic?
The most common symptom is excessive crying. The crying may also have a higher frequency/pitch than normal. Other less frequent symptoms might include motor unrest(flexing of the knees against the abdomen, clenching of the fists, and extension or straightening of the trunk, legs and arms), passing flatus or wanting to be held during an attack. Colicky infants have been known to show facial flushing abdominal distension and gastrointestinal difficulties.
What can chiropractic do?
Chiropractors consider that infantile colic is often associated with poor spinal function, arising from physical stresses to the infant’s body during birth. Modern obstetric practices, such as the mother giving birth on her back as opposed to a squatting position, the use of forceps, suction, induction and epidurals may subject the child to significant trauma. Such stresses may cause “fixation” of spinal joints in the infant, upsetting the nerves controlling the gastro-intestinal system. Correction of these spinal fixations with an adjustment may have a positive effect. The problem may be commonly in the neck, upper thoracic spine or the sacrum. In addition, chiropractors consider that spasm of the diaphragm may reduce the effectiveness of the valve controlling the movement of food into the stomach, resulting in gastric reflux.
The chiropractor will examine the child to identify poorly functioning joints of the spine for fixations and apply specific gentle manipulations to mobilize the locked joints. The average treatment program recommended includes 3 consultations a week for 2 weeks. Positive results include less hours spent crying, reduced irritability, improved feeding and sleeping. Some children can appear worse after the first treatment however others might fall asleep shortly after the first treatment.
In a recent study the short-term effects of spinal manipulation vs. intervention ( a drug called dimethicone) were compared. Results not only showed that chiropractic adjustments were effective in reducing colic symptoms (the average hours per day spent crying) but that the use of drugs were less effective than chiropractic care.
What can you do?
- Studies have shown that a consistent consoling response, if not immediately effective is quite important.
- Parents are however encouraged to spend time away from the baby and to be with one another.
- Try soothing music and dim the lights
- “White noise” may be comforting to some infants eg. Running the vacuum cleaner, placing infant on top of the washer.
- Car rides can be soothing
- Rocking, swaddling, and carrying the infant
- The simple act of sucking may be soothing for the infant.
- Try dietary changes in the infant as well as the mother. (Add fiber to infant’s diet)
- Burp infant frequently
- Change nipple size and shape
- Abdominal massage and hot water bottles
- Parental reassurance, environmental modification, and the passage of time are the mainstays of colic management.
Studies provide conflicting results on the efficacy of drugs. In the past these have included antiflatulents, motility agents, sedatives many of which are no longer available due to severe side effects. The use of alcohol based remedies is not recommended neither are laxatives.
Herbal remedies include chamomile, fennel, balm mint, licorice, dill, comfrey or ginger. These can even be brewed as teas.
Homeopathic remedies are also available and these might include camomilla, wild yam, nux vomica and pulsatilla.