If you’re pregnant, you’re likely hoping that you’ll be able to have a natural childbirth. But you are probably also are aware of the very real pain and challenges.
The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do that may help you have a shorter labor and improve the birth process. As a chiropractor, here’s what I tell my patients about how to speed up, and improve, their birthing process:
- Get help as early as possible
Chiropractic care has been shown to decrease labor times by 24 percent in first births and up to 33 percent for second or third births! (The effects of chiropractic treatment on pregnancy and labor: a comprehensive study. Fallon J. Proceedings of the world chiropractic congress. 1991; 24-31.) If you are 37 weeks pregnant, there are still things we can do to help. But if you are in your first trimester, or even just thinking about conceiving, the sooner you start chiropractic care, the better.The added benefit of chiropractic is that it can also make your pregnancy much easier. Women who prepare for birth often have less pain, sleep better and are better able to move throughout their pregnancy.
- Don’t assume pain during pregnancy is normal
Pain in the lower part of your belly may be due to tight round ligaments. In addition to pain, this tension can cause your baby to be in a breech position. If you are feeling pain in your belly, call Chiropractic First! We have helped a lot of women with round ligament pain and with breech positioning. If you aren’t in the Chicago area, give us a call anyway. We can refer you to a prenatal chiropractor in your area.
- Move your hips!
Tightness and pain in your hips may be a sign that the bones in your pelvis are not correctly aligned and not expanding well. These problems are easily addressed by a chiropractor. But if left unaddressed, they could prevent labor from progressing.In addition to chiropractic care, I tell my patients to find a good prenatal yoga class. Grateful Yoga in Evanston has a really wonderful series of prenatal programs. If you can’t make it to Grateful Yoga, look for a class taught by someone who took at least an 80-hour training. Prenatal yoga will help your hips expand and move correctly. Plus you’ll get lots of other good information about pregnancy and learn about other resources in your area.
- Get flexible
The more muscle flexibility you have, the better able you will be to move and get into a good position for labor. If the muscles of your core, especially your psoas muscles, are flexible, both you and your baby will have the space needed to move through labor more easily. I often see women who are unaware of how tight their core muscles are. And yet, once we start stretching them, they are amazed how much more comfortable they are sitting and laying down. Labor is physically demanding! The more flexibility you have, the better you’ll feel during the process.
- Relax your floor
Being able to relax the muscles of your pelvic floor is necessary for labor. When these muscles relax, more space is created for the baby to pass through the birth canal. Research has shown that chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy allow for more relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles.
There are so many variables that go into labor. Women who do everything to have natural childbirth sometimes end up with highly medical births. Other women plan for medical intervention because it is the best choice for them and their child. There is no right way to have a baby. But, if a natural childbirth is a choice for your family, there are things you can do increase the speed and ease of your birth. Follow the steps above. Find birth practitioners whom you trust. And most importantly, listen to your body!