Top 5 Challenges During Pregnancy and What to do About Them
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Whether you are newly pregnant or in the home stretch, this article will provide some helpful tips on how to manage (and possibly avoid) the 5 very common pregnancy challenges, and how Hemmett Health and chiropractic can help.
Although common, the musculoskeletal patterns that we routinely see at Hemmett Health are not normal. We see these patterns every day in the clinics and in addition to treating these conditions with manual therapies, we also offer at-home advise to help maintain office gains with simple lifestyle modifications. Most are generally related to the hormone relaxin and the huge role it plays on every ligament in your body, not just your pelvis.
Relaxin (a hormone) typically peaks during the 14 weeks of the first trimester and at delivery. The result is global relaxation of the soft tissue including all the ligaments and joints of your body. This is of course very important to allow the birthing canal to widen for the baby to descend through to allow for optimal birthing. However, during the 40 weeks of pregnancy, it is very challenging for the mother as it creates instability in the feet, knees, hips, pubic symphysis and back. Your muscles easily get overused trying to make up for the lack of passive support in these areas. But we are here to help!
PREGNANCY CHALLENGE #1 – LOW BACK PAIN
This is probably the most common complaint we see in the office in our prenatal patient population. Pain in the low back can take form in countless forms. Acute, sharp, severe pain or slow grade, achy, constant pain are both common. The instability of the sacroiliac joints account for most of the direct pain as well as pain that can be in your buttock region. In addition to in-office care, there are many tips we offer to help with this burdensome pain.
WHAT TO DO? Wear supportive shoes with orthotics if possible, stretch and ice. Try to minimize sitting by getting up every 30 minutes to walk. Proper sleeping and office ergonomics also will help lessen the symptoms.
PREGNANCY CHALLENGE #2 – FOOT PAIN / PLANTAR FASCIITIS
The arch in your foot is held up by the plantar fascia, a ligamentous structure that is directly influenced by relaxin. The bottom of the foot becomes loose and weak; couple this with increased weight gain and you have the perfect storm for foot pain, a flattened arch the reason behind the old wives tale of your foot growing a size during pregnancy. Doesn’t have to happen! By being proactive and wearing supportive shoes with orthotics, you are able to avoid this pain altogether.
WHAT TO DO? Wear supportive shoes with inserts, stretch, do strengthening exercises and ice.
PREGNANCY CHALLENGE #3 – SCIATICA (PAIN THAT SHOOTS DOWN YOUR LEG)
Your body is changing in infinite ways including increased appropriate weight gain and a gentle widening of the pelvic joints including the sacroiliac joints (SI joints). As this happens, the piriformis muscle, the muscle that attaches to both the hip and the sacrum is stretched by this movement and reflexively contracts to stabilize the joint. The piriformis muscle lies on top of the sciatic nerve and is very commonly the source of sciatic pain that is a zinger-type of shooting pain down the back of your leg either to or past your knee. There are other causes of sciatic pain including arthritis, and disc herniations to name a few, but during pregnancy, the most common cause is a piriformis strain.
WHAT TO DO? Wear supportive shoes, stretch the piriformis and surrounding pelvic muscles and use ice over the gluteal region.
COMMON PREGNANCY CHALLENGE #4 FATIGUE
This is a very normal and expected side effect of pregnancy that shouldn’t be just swept under the rug. Your body is undertaking a Herculean task of growing a baby! Listen to that voice that tells you to rest, slow down and to take it easy.
WHAT TO DO? The Hemmett Health team recommends daily 20 minute brisk walks to help with energy boosts. Get plenty of quality rest and sleep. Additionally, be sure that you are taking a prenatal vitamin as well as a clean, pure source of essential fatty acids. Here are our favorite brands – NewChapter Prenatal Vitamin and Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA.
PREGNANCY CHALLENGE #5 PUBIC SYMPHYSIS PAIN
Pain in the pubic symphysis region is typically marked by tenderness in the pubic region (on the bony part of the lower, middle pelvis, just below the zipper of your jeans) coupled with instability and pain with single-leg stance such as climbing stairs, getting out of your car or putting your socks on. The underlying theme of loosening of the ligaments is again at least partially blame on relaxin and the shift in the pelvis. Our internal core muscles are beautifully designed to protect our bodies by engaging and supporting the pelvis through coordinated, safe abdominal exercises. A proper posterior pelvic tilt or abdominal hollowing exercise is an essential stabilizing workout to not only strengthen the core and pelvis but also to treat and mitigate the pubic symphysis pain from worsening.
WHAT TO DO – Use ice and perform abdominal, core strengthening exercises.
Overall, it is obvious that pregnancy changes a women’s body in countless ways; some that are more welcomed than others. Please know that you do not have to suffer through the aches and pains and accept them as a normal part of pregnancy. You absolutely have control over the way your body is adapting to the many changes and we are here to gently guide you to a more comfortable, healthy and vibrant pregnancy!
Much more detailed information about the topics mentioned can be found on our website at HemmettHealth.com under the prenatal care section. Wishing you a happy, healthy, vibrant pregnancy!
The HemmettHealth Chiropractic Team