As a prenatal chiropractor, my job is to support the dreams and wishes of each and every mama who walks through our door. Some come to our office with scheduled c-sections, many are excited for their epidural, but plenty have dreams and goals for a natural birth. For you mamas who intend to have a natural birth, did you know that taking care of those pregnancy aches and pains will make it much more likely to achieve that goal?
Dystocia is the fancy word for difficult labor. It can be long, painful, or both, and may or may not involve a poorly aligned baby. At any rate, if natural birth is the goal, we don't want it. (Let's face it, even if you are planning for a beautiful birth with an epidural or drugs, we likely don't want a single extra minute added to our labor!)
Labor, along with every activity in the body, is controlled by the nervous system. As we often discuss in our office, the nervous system is divided up into our sympathetic or "fight or flight" nervous system, and our parasympathetic nervous system, which does digestion, healing, relaxation, and you guessed it... labor. So when our bodies perceive stress, it turns on all of our fight or flight hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, our breathing and heart rate increase, blood rushes to our limbs, and guess what happens to the labor process? A big stall. It tightens up our psoas (hip flexor muscle) and our cervix. Whether it's contractions that stop with a new person entering in the room, a mama facing her fear about adding a new person to the family and stops labor altogether, we know that the sympathetic nervous system is more powerful even than a pitocin drip, with which the woman was contracting every two minutes until this new stressor entered.
So what does this have to do with my pain? Well, pain ramps up the sympathetic cycle. It fires the same hormones that make our bodies struggle to relax and release, makes us more prone to fear, which in turn cranks up pain levels even more. This is a vicious cycle that we never want, but especially during labor.
Focusing on the tone of the nervous system, with specific chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, and meditation/relaxation such as Hypnobabies, can not only help your body feel better, but will also prepare it to stay in parasympathetic throughout your labor, thereby preventing dystocia, shaving minutes to hours off of your labor, and creating the peaceful entrance that we all desire for our children to arrive earthside with.
Want more information or ready to take the leap and get out of sympathetic mode? Contact us today.
Dr. Sheena grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota and completed her undergraduate studies in Architecture, Chemistry, and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.