October’s blog was contributed by Dr. Kaleb Scroggin. Dr. Scroggin is a Savannah native, graduating from St. Andrew’s School before receiving his bachelor’s degree in exercise science and his Doctor of Chiropractic degree. He has done thousands of hours of post-doctorate pediatric and prenatal training, teaches students and doctors clinical pediatric chiropractic, and runs Restoration Chiropractic, a pediatric and prenatal chiropractic office in Savannah, Georgia.
Did I get hit by a truck? Nope, just pregnant…
When I meet with a new pregnant patient, one of the first questions I am asked is “Why do I feel like I got hit by a truck?” Many of these patients are only around 10 weeks gestation. At 10 weeks, your baby is only about the size of a kumquat, so what gives? This baby is not pressing on your sciatic nerve at that size, nor is it pushing on your ribs or low back. Why are you in so much physical pain when there is not any physical mechanism? The answer has three parts: alignment, stability, and hormones.
When you were a child, you most likely took a few tumbles, whether it was riding a bicycle, gymnastics, soccer, or just tripping over your dog. Most of the time these little falls did not mean very much to you, stinging for a while, but eventually the pain went away. What you may not have realized, though, is that your spine and hips can be bumped out of alignment during these thousands of falls.
Now there is good news and bad news…
The good news is that your body is amazing at adapting and can lock down, or splint, these misaligned joints so that the pain is minimized and you can go about your life. The bad news is that you may not feel the effects from these misalignments sometimes until decades later when something comes along and destabilizes them… like pregnancy.
When most people think of the effects of hormones, they may think of hot flashes, acne, or mood swings, but when you are pregnant, there is another hormone that affects you in a different way, called relaxin.
Relaxin is a hormone that is released during pregnancy, that “relaxes” your ligaments. This is a great thing for a pregnant mom whom is about to give birth. It helps her pelvis open more easily to aid baby in making their exit. The not-so-great part about relaxin is that it also destabilizes those joints that have been locked down for sometimes years and causes them to flair up. Relaxin spikes the highest during the first trimester, and then again towards the end of pregnancy. This means that if you are one of those women who have taken a spill that caused a misalignment, relaxin is about to destabilize all of the work that your body has done to protect your joints, which means that truck might be coming for you. Being in pain while pregnant is no fun, but knowing the cause of these issues means that there are ways for you to prevent your own suffering.
There are 3 THINGS you should do BEFORE you feel the pain (and once you feel it too).
The FIRST thing you should do is see a Prenatal Chiropractor. Their entire job is to gently correct misalignments and restore function to your body. It makes sense that maintaining proper function is something that you always do seeing how improper function is usually causing the pain in the first place. This is even more true during pregnancy with all of the changes your body is going through. We see many moms that wait until the pain is unbearable in their third trimester, and we consistently hear that they wished they had started sooner and not needlessly suffered.
When looking for a prenatal Chiropractor, go to ICPA4KIDS.com to look up a “Webster Certified” Chiropractor. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) is the ONLY organization that certifies Chiropractors in this technique and it means that they have been evaluated to be excellent at caring for pregnant women.
The SECOND thing you should do that helps a ton of our patients, is get yourself a wedge pillow. You place the pillow in any chair that you sit in to help roll your hips forward. This allows a better lumbar curve, keeps your hips from pinching, and keeps you from “hunching”. These things help keep your head from having to stretch so far forward, which takes an enormous stress off of your back. We especially recommend these to our patients who sit in a car for a long duration of the day.
The THIRD thing that you should do? TUMMY TIME
No, I do not mean lay on your stomach while pregnant – but a huge contributor to these pains, on top of the misalignments, is your forward head posture. I cannot see you, but I know that you have it. Every inch forward your head is in front of your shoulders adds an extra 10 pounds of stress to your spine and this greatly influences how you feel. Chiropractic helps bring your head back over your shoulders, sitting on a wedge pillow keeps your head from being pulled forward, and tummy time helps strengthen and improve tone in your neck and back so that you can better fight gravity. Things like the bird-dog exercise, or crawling on your hands and knees will keep your belly from being squished while also training your back muscles. There are a variety of exercises that help. We prescribe specific ones that will help that individual the most after we analyze exactly what they need.
Seeing a chiropractor, reducing stress on your neck, and strengthening your back and neck muscles will greatly improve your stability, mobility, and bring your body back into balance so that you can survive that third trimester without feeling like you have been hit by a truck.
Contact the author:
Kaleb Scroggin, DC