Thursday, May 26, 2016

Relaxin Is Not So Relaxing…..

Pregnancy brings with it many equally wonderful and irritating things. Baby kicks, but heartburn. Growing new life, but morning sickness. Lots of attention, but relaxin.

Oh, the relaxin. 

Relaxin (not to be confused with relaxING) is one of many reasons pregnant women need a chiropractor, and desperately. See, relaxin is responsible for many important things during pregnancy and birth. Its primary function is to loosen the joints of the pelvis to allow the baby adequate passage space. Relaxin, as it is a hormone, does not work on solely the pelvis, however. It affects all joints.

So by the end of pregnancy, when relaxin is at its highest, you rather feel a bit like a marionette, which is why you need a chiropractor to put you back together.

Throughout pregnancy, the body goes through massive changes. A woman’s center of gravity is shifting, her hormones are changing, and her physiology changes to accommodate the growing babe. The most significant changes to the woman’s joints, bones, and support structure occur in the second half of pregnancy - when the baby grows the most.

The effects of relaxin rather compound on each other. If a woman is not being regularly adjusted, that back ache she’s getting will only get worse. Her hips will only be exposed to more relaxin (and a growing babe!) until birth. Regular adjustments during pregnancy will help keep a pregnant body as comfortable as possible until the birth. At the end of pregnancy, a chiropractor can get the mother’s body as ready as possible for labor by manipulating her pelvis and spine in an optimal position for birth.

In addition, chiropractic can come in very handy during the actual labor to help with the baby’s position in the pelvis. Most pregnancy care providers are only concerned with whether the baby is head down or not. If the baby is head down, that’s great - but that’s not the only position that matters during labor. The way that a baby is facing during birth makes a huge difference in the length of labor, the pain of the contractions, the contraction patterns, and ultimately whether or not a mother will have a cesarean.

In short, a baby should be facing to either side of the mother’s body. Baby should be looking at either the left hip or the right hip. If the baby is facing forward, then the back of the baby’s head pushes on the mother’s lower back during contractions - and this is what we call back labor - where contractions are felt very strongly in the back. It is miserable.

There are many positioning maneuvers that can be done to help encourage a baby to turn properly, but if the water is broken and that little noggin is tightly engaged, it’s time to call the chiropractor. Many a babies have been born via cesarean simply because they were “sunny side up,” “malpositioned,” or “OP” (occiput posterior). Many of those babies did not need to be surgically born - they just needed expert hands to encourage them to turn to a more favorable position.

Furthermore, a baby’s head should be STRAIGHT down. If a head is acynclitic - tilted toward the side - the baby may not come down. A chiropractor can help straighten out a baby’s head as well.

After the birth, relaxin is still in a woman’s body for about 4 months. If the pregnancy left a woman’s hips, back, and spine misaligned, those things are not going to heal themselves just because the relaxin is no longer present. They need special attention by a master of skeletal manipulation...

...which is a chiropractor.

Moral of the story: a chiropractor is a must for women in pregnancy.

“As soon as my client tells me she’s starting to feel achy, I immediately send her straight to the chiropractor. Never once has a single woman come back to me after a pregnancy chiropractic adjustment with anything but immense relief. Chiropractic is a must for pregnancy care and comfort - and it is crucial during labor in some situations. I love chiropractors for my clients - every pregnant woman needs a chiropractor.”
- Rachel Madrigal CLD, CCCE (Birth Doula and Childbirth Educator)

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