Pregnancy Dysfunctions

Abnormal Fetal Positions (Posterior, Transverse, Oblique, Breech)
Pelvic and Low Back Pain
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)
Rib Pain
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/Thoracic Outlet Syndrome


Abnormal Fetal Positions (Posterior, Transverse, Oblique, Breech)

Textbook tells us that by the end of the third-trimester baby will be head down, preparing for birth. But what if you aren’t textbook? What if baby has flipped or settled into a less than ideal position? Chiropractic can help!

A recent journal reported an 82% success rate of babies turning down and into the correct position with chiropractic care. And my clinical experience would agree. Chiropractic adjustments reduce nervous system interference and facilitate the biomechanical balance of the pelvic joints, muscles, and ligaments. This decreases the effects of intra-uterine constraint, allowing baby to be in the best position possible for labour and delivery.

Chiropractic care can begin at any stage of pregnancy. My practice sees all kinds of scenarios from;

  • Moms using chiropractic to support fertility and continuing care throughout their pregnancy
  • Moms who during a growth spurt would like some help with pelvis biomechanics
  • Moms who are comfortable, experiencing no pain, but know a balanced pelvis will make labour and delivery easier
  • Moms at 36 weeks who just found out baby is in the wrong position.

Ideally, chiropractic care should begin when pregnancy begins to prevent the wrong positions from happening in the first place. But if you are in your later stages of pregnancy and have just heard chiropractic can help, that’s great too! The sooner you can begin care the better.

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Pelvic and Low Back Pain

A woman’s center of gravity shifts forward soon after she becomes pregnant. This adds stress and strain to the ligaments of her pelvis and low back. As the baby grows in size, the shift in gravity continues and her low back begins to arch adding to more stress and strain. In compensation we begin to see dysfunction in her upper back as she begins to hunch forward and looses the normal curve the upper spine is designed to handle. Add on the extra 30 or so pounds that pregnancy requires and stress begins to be felt throughout the entire body especially feet, ankles and knees.

Chiropractic can help! Many studies show that pain can be reduced by manual therapies during pregnancy. In a study of 170 Canadian women those who received chiropractic care while pregnant, less pain was experienced both during pregnancy and labour.

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Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)

SPD during pregnancy is a condition caused by excessive movement of the pubic symphysis joint. It can affect pregnant women to varying degrees.

Any activity that involves lifting one leg at a time or parting the legs tends to be particularly painful. Lifting the leg to put on clothes, getting out of a car, bending over, sitting down or getting up, walking up stairs, standing on one leg, lifting heavy objects, and walking in general tend to be difficult at times. Many women report that moving or turning over in bed is especially difficult.

Chiropractic can help! Your pelvis is made up of 3 joints. These 3 joints need to work together. Many times in pregnancy your sacroiliac (SI) joints become restricted and don’t move as well as they should. This places extra stress and strain on your pubic symphysis joint, this overloads it and results in pain and dysfunction.

Here are some suggestions to do at home to help cope with the discomfort;

  • Use a pillow between your legs when sleeping; body pillows are a great investment! If you are already doing this and still experiencing pain, add another pillow.
  • While side sleeping, put a pillow under your tummy.
  • Keep your legs and hips as parallel/symmetrical as possible when moving or turning in bed.
  • Some women find it helpful to have their partners stabilize their hips and hold them ‘together’ when rolling over in bed or adjusting positions.
  • Swimming is an activity that reduces stress on your body and has shown to relieve pressure on the pubic symphysis joint.
  • When standing, stand symmetrically, with your weight evenly distributed through both legs. No shifting to one side or the other or sticking a hip out.
  • Avoid ‘straddle’ movements. Lunges are an exercise to be avoided.
  • An ice pack may feel soothing and help reduce inflammation in the pubic area. Note that baby’s move toward warmth and away from cold. It is not recommended to ice the pubic symphysis joint after 36 weeks. However exceptions can be made for extremely painful situations.

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Rib Pain

During the last stages of pregnancy, your rib cage is expanding to create more room.

Chiropractic can help! Movement (or lack of movement) in your mid-back determines how much spinal stress is transferred to your ribs and shoulders. By keeping your mid-back supple and moving you will feel less stress in your ribs allowing them to move into these new positions with ease.

In the meantime, you may find some temporary relief with the tips below;

    • Posture, posture, posture! Sit up straight, no slouching. Slouching compresses ribs, baby, abdominal contents, everything! Sitting up straight allows everything to have more room and decreases the stress placed on your ribs.
    • Make yourself as comfortable as possible by wearing loose fitting clothes. Maybe it’s time for a new bra.
    • Support yourself with pillows when lying down. When in doubt add more pillows.
    • Avoid sitting down for too long – get up and take regular stretch breaks or short walks.
    • Choose exercise that helps you stretch out and supports your body, like prenatal yoga or swimming.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) / Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)

In line with the reason rib pain is common during the later stages of pregnancy, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) are similar conditions in which there is too much stuff in too little of space. During pregnancy blood volume increases, we lose core stability and maintaining proper posture becomes more difficult. This all creates compression which can result in CTS or TOS.

Chiropractic can help! Lack of spinal movement in your mid-back and neck, the dysfunctional forward position of your head stacking on top of your spine and abnormal muscle tension, especially in the front of your neck, adds extra stress to your nervous system. This can result in tingling, shooting, burning, deep achy symptoms felt in your upper extremity.

And many of the tips given to help with rib pain can also help with CTS and TOS.

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Many times it is a pregnant woman under care for something else who notices a decrease in headaches after being adjusted. The headache where she would normally take a pill but now is reluctant because she is pregnant disappears with chiropractic care. Starting chiropractic care for headaches is common for everyone and many have experienced an improvement with intensity, frequency and duration of their headaches since beginning care, this includes pregnant moms. Chiropractic can help!

And many of the tips given to help with rib pain, CTS and TOS can also help headaches. Proper posture is so important!

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