Expecting a baby is very exciting, but it takes a lot of effort and attention to ensure both the mother and baby are healthy. In this blog post we will outline some helpful tips for pre- and postnatal care. The information shared may help enhance or maintain your health during your pregnancy and delivery, and after the birth of the baby.
During the Prenatal Period1
Prenatal care is extremely important to ensure good health for you and your baby and decrease potential health risks during pregnancy. Being judicious about monitoring your health can help identify problems early, and allow opportunities for prevention. According to the Patient Education Institute, babies who are born to mothers who lack prenatal care have three times the chance of being born at a low birth weight, along with several other complications1.
Many of the following well-known preventative strategies are good to keep in mind to ensure mother and baby are healthy:
- Stop smoking and limit your intake of alcohol
- Talk to your doctor about any pre-existing medical conditions, dietary supplements (including folic acid), and any over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs you may be taking
- Keep moving (consistent light exercise is important) and focus on healthy food choices
During the Postpartum Period2
Postpartum care starts after the baby is born and lasts about 6–8 weeks. During this time, the mother will focus on getting adequate rest, proper nutrition and other self-care measures as instructed by your family physician. Here are some helpful postpartum care tips:
Diet and Activities: After giving birth, it is recommended that a new mother continue to eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids and slowly get back to normal activities and routines. For the first 2–6 weeks after a C-section, for example, she should refrain from physical exertion such as lifting, pushing and pulling of heavy objects. Ask your family physician or other healthcare providers if in doubt.
Postpartum Checkup: Normally, a healthcare provider will want to see the mother 6 weeks after delivery for a checkup. If there are complications, a visit may be scheduled sooner.
Provided by Canadian Chiropractic Association
1 Robin Madell, “Pregnancy Care.” Healthline. December 15, 2015. http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy-care#Overview1
2 X-Plain: Patient Education, “Postpartum Care.” The Patient Education Institute, Inc. Last reviewed August 23, 2012. https://www.kaahe.org/en/ArabicSampleModules/modules/obgyn/ogff01a1/ogff0101/ogff0101.pdf.
Chiropractic health care
The word “chiropractic” comes from ancient Greek and means “done by hand.”
Adjustment of the joints of the body has been used in the healing arts for many centuries and is at the heart of modern chiropractic care.
Chiropractors are specialists in manual adjustment of the vertebrae of the spine and other joints of the body. Adjustment helps relieve pain and restore normal functioning to the joints and supporting muscles and ligaments – so you can enjoy your everyday activities again as quickly as possible.
Your chiropractor will recommend a course of treatment specific to you that may also include mobilization of the joints, ultrasound, muscle release techniques, muscle stimulation and therapeutic exercises. Chiropractors are also trained to provide nutritional counselling, and recommend rehabilitation and injury prevention strategies.
Back health is important
The body’s information highway – your nervous system – is protected by the spine. The nervous system travels out between the vertebrae or joints of the spine to carry messages from the brain to every corner of your body. Stress and strain on the vertebrae can put pressure on the nerves in the affected area. That is why a problem with your spine can have far-reaching effects causing symptoms such as arm or leg pain.
When to consider chiropractic care
If aching joints and muscle pain are affecting your ability to get through the day and keeping you away from your favourite activities, consider chiropractic care. Work, accidents, sports injuries, household chores, even the stress of daily living can cause painful joint and back problems. Even if you do not have painful symptoms, chiropractic care can help you maintain healthy spine and joint function.
Here are some of the most common reasons why more than 4 million Canadians visit a chiropractor each year:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Strains and sprains from daily activities
- Repetitive strain injuries
- Work and sports-related injuries
- Restricted movement in the back, shoulders, neck or limbs
Benefits of chiropractic care
Chiropractic treatment is skilled, hands-on health care that relieves pain and helps your body be its best. Here are some of the ways it can help you.
- Improved movement in your neck, shoulders, back and torso
- Better posture
- Relief from headaches, neck and back pain
- Prevention of work-related muscle and joint injuries
- Enhanced athletic performance
- Improved flexibility
- Relief of pregnancy-related back ache
- Correction of gait and foot problems
Recently, the Ontario Chiropractic Association launched an excellent pamphlet on pregnancy and back pain. Within this blog, I would like to summarize the information provided and hopefully enlighten those interested on how to assist in alleviating back pain while pregnant.
According to studies, about 90 percent of pregnant women will experienced lower back and/or pelvic pain related to their pregnancy. This is a huge number! There are various reasons for this back/pelvic pain. First off, weight gain during pregnancy places additional stress on the joints in the body and thus causes a cascade of functional changes to muscles and ligaments. Furthermore, as the baby grows, muscles (such as the abdominal and obliques) become stretched and may not be as efficient in providing stability to the pelvis and spine. In order to prevent and help reduce this acquired stress on the joints of the lower back and lower limb, it is important for expectant mothers to perform simple core strengthening exercised. By performing these exercises, expectant mothers will also be reducing the pain experienced in their lower back and pelvis region. Also, the expectant mother will be much more prepared for the physical tasks (lifting, carrying, pushing, etc.) that will occur once baby is born. In the next paragraphs, I will discuss the recommended exercises for expectant mothers. Please ensure that before commencing any exercise program, you consult your health practitioner.
1) Abdominal Bracing
This exercise is very helpful. By performing this exercise daily you will assist in keeping the muscles that hold the lower back (lumbar spine), fit and strong. Start by laying on your back with your spine in a neutral position (neutral means not arching your back or changing the natural position of your back as it rests on the floor). Next, concentrate on contracting your abdominal muscles without “sucking in” the muscles. Tighten your abdominal muscles but DO NOT hollow the abdominal area. You can perform this a couple of times per day. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds and repeat 3-5 times for 1-3 sets. Ultimately, this exercise will help to improve core stability and protect the spine, thus decreasing painful spells.
2) Pelvic Tilt
This next exercise can be performed in various positions. You can sit, stand, lay on your back or go on al fours….it is your choice. Choose a comfortable position for you. First, bring your pubic bone forward by tucking your buttocks in with a scooping motion. Hold this for 2-3 seconds. Rock the pelvis the opposite direction to arch the lower back and direct the buttocks out. Try to maintain a continuous motion. Repeat this exercise 3-10 times for 3 sets. Rest 30-60 seconds between sets.
3) Arm Extension
For the next exercise, you will be required to kneel down onto your hands and knees. Keep your spine neutral, similar to exercise number one. Keep your core contracted (tightened)….don’t forget to breath! Now, extend one arm out in front as much as you can – point your fingers outwards. Make your arm parallel to the floor, while keeping your body stable. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to the starting position and then switch sides.
4) Leg Extension
Remaining on the floor on all fours, extend one leg behind you as much as you can. Stretch your toes out. Keep stable! Hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to starting position and switch sides. Repeat this move 3-10 times and work up to 3 sets. Furthermore, you should rest 30-60 second in between sets.
Maintain Good Posture During Pregnancy!
In order to maintain good posture during pregnancy, try to avoid slouching and rolling your shoulder forward. Keep your shoulders “down and back” and your chin slightly tucked.
After the Baby Arrives
When carrying your child, hold them upright, close to your chest. Sit in a chair with back support when feeding your baby and try to avoid leaning forward to reach your child’s mouth. This avoids straining your back. Safely lift your child – have your feet shoulder width apart, keeping your back completely straight and bend your knees. Lift with both arms and your thigh muscles.
These are all excellent tips that expectant mothers should know. There are excellent resources to explore. Thank you for reading this post.
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The following information is my personal notes about this subject matter. It is intended for informational purposes only. Consult a health practitioner to help you diagnose and treat injuries of any kind.
Dr. Luciano Di Loreto, HBSc., DC