Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy
I love the way I feel after a visit to my chiropractor! I have renewed energy, my body feels relaxed, I don't have any aches - it is glorious!
I had never seen a chiropractor regularly up until about 4 years ago. I was pregnant and my doula suggested I go see one – but not just any one, one that was well respected in our community, and most of all, was Webster certified. (A Webster certified chiropractic has specialized training regarding care for pregnant women.)
She knew that if my body was in proper alignment, my baby had a better chance of being in a good position for birth. A chiropractor can help your body get in proper alignment.
In my Birth Boot Camp Childbirth Education Series you will learn that your spine is the host to a major highway in your body; a highway that millions of messages are being sent on throughout the day! If your spine is out of alignment it could slow down and/or disrupt the way your body processes those messages. These misalignment's are called subluxations. A chiropractor works on your body to reduces these subluxations allowing the messages to flow efficiently.
But how does this look physically?
It can result in an easier, more comfortable pregnancy.
It can help you have a smoother, possibly faster, labor.
It can help alleviate nausea (so start going early on in pregnancy).
It really helps with back, neck, shoulder, and joint pains.
Your round ligaments won't feel as tight.
It can give your baby ample room to grow and assist in preventing breech presentation.
You will be less likely to experience back labor.
It can help increase your milk supply.
And once you give birth chiropractic care for your baby can be so beneficial!
Your little one just went through a lot during labor – help their tiny bodies have the best start in this world by getting adjusted.
It can reduce colic.
Help with spitting up.
Assist in healthy digestion.
It can help with latching during breastfeeding.
It can prevent a lot of short and/or long-term problems.
You may find your child is happier, sleeps better, and has higher immune function!
I have some amazing testimonies regarding chiropractic care... ask me about them! But for now I will share one. After my daughter was born, she was having a difficult time controlling her body temperature. She was about to be transported to the NICU, when my chiropractor stopped by to check in on us. He gave her an adjustment at just 10 hours old, and she was able to begin regulating her own temperature.
I am convinced of the benefits of chiropractic care!
If you are looking for a chiropractor in Winchester, Virginia and the surrounding Shenandoah Valley, please visit my resource list.
Who do I see? Darrell Voll at Active Health Chiropractic.
If you do not live within the Winchester, Virginia area, find a Webster certified chiropractor near you by clicking here!
It was Saturday, December 30, 2006. The night before my mother had made tacos and jokingly hoped that it would stir up labor to start. I doubted that possibility since I was still two weeks away from my due date!
I had been running to the bathroom with diarrhea every hour starting around midnight. I was soooo NOT excited because two weeks prior I had the stomach flu. Who knew a pregnant woman could loose 15 pounds at the end of her pregnancy! I did! And I thought I was entering round two of the flu. By 5 am I was running to the bathroom every 20 minutes, and by 6 am I was running to the bathroom every 8-10 minutes, but by this point I was flushed clean and nothing was coming out. (Gross, I know, but this is real life here folks!)
I had the feeling that this wasn't the flu, that perhaps this was labor. I didn't want to believe it up until that point because I was still 2 weeks away from my due date. My birth class instructor had told us to shower and that if it was false labor it would probably go away. I asked my husband, who was sleeping, to keep track of how far apart my contractions were (I told him I would just holler from the shower when one started and stopped). Yea.... when I got out of a shower there was a long line drifting down the page because he had fallen back to sleep. (He deserved a little extra rest because at the time he was a full time student trying to finish his bachelors degree, and working 40+ hours a week doing construction.)
The contractions continued, yes I began calling them contractions because I no longer was running to the toilet and they kept coming. I wrapped a towel around myself and decided to do a load of laundry - might as well have a clean house. I wasn't in any discomfort at this point. But when I was walking to the washing machine I had a pretty noticeably trickle/gush of fluid. I wondered if that was my water, but it seemed like such a little amount that I thought it was perhaps pee (don't judge, sometimes pregnant momma's leak - although I have never leaked THAT much.) Because I was GBS positive, I knew I needed to take note of that.
By 9 am I was having consistent contractions coming every 5-6 minutes and lasting for about 45 seconds. I was leaning over our kitchen table, My mom arrived and shared her excitement and her peace. My husband cleaned house like the president was going to arrive and made a feast of a breakfast, which I wanted none of - it was quite hilarious and cute!
I figured this was the real deal and I should call my midwife. She suggested that I come in and determine if my water had truly broken. I arrived to the birth center around noon. And at this point, I was moving very slow and I was in a lot of discomfort. It felt like something was sitting on my tailbone.
After being checked and found to have ruptured my membranes, everyone helped me into the shower. The warm water was GLORIOUS! I even began singing through my contractions as a way to regulate my breathing.
But then... then they wanted to get me out of the shower to administer antibiotics for the GBS, do my initial and monitor the baby. I practically fell to the floor after my first contraction out of the shower. I didn't realize the water had made such a big difference in my pain tolerance. I was led to the bed and when I laid down I was squirming like a fish out of water. I did NOT want to be on my back, it was so painful.
This is when I had a realization... I needed a doula - at this point in time I didn't know what a doula was - but I needed someone to help me. My husband was at a loss because he was was feeling anxiety over the pain I was in. I had thought a midwife would sit there and rub my back and coach me, but this wasn't in her gift mix. (I have personally seen other midwives who do actively assist in labor comfort measures at births, so don't get me wrong, some may operate using comfort measures, but not this one. And honestly, I have never even met with this particular midwife prenatally, only her partners, so we had no relational background.)
After being checked, I got the worst news ever, I was only 3 cm dilated. Not what I wanted to hear. At the same time all this was happening, the nurse tried 6 times to get a needle into my arm. I was ready to punch someone.
At one point my midiwfe said "You need to calm down or else you will end up with a csection." Not the right thing to say to THIS laboring mom. I could see how that might help someone else find control, but in me, it caused fear.
I looked at the clock at it said 12:45pm. and I thought to myself, HOW HAVE I ONLY BEEN HERE FOR 45 MINUTES - it felt like it had been hours.
Then I was asked if I wanted an epidural. What I wanted was back in the SHOWER! But that wasn't an option, they needed to monitor the baby and I couldn't settle down enough for them to get a good read. So I transferred to labor and delivery for an epidural. At that moment, someone came in and took the clock off the wall... SHE CHANGED THE BATTERY and now the clock said 6pm. So it turns outI HAD BEEN DOING THIS FOR HOURS! What a mind game folks! I always look back and think, if I had known I had been doing that for such a long time maybe I would have pushed through and found a way to calm down - but I can't change history.
I got the epidural. My husband, who had sweat dripping from him, took a shower and ate some dinner. I got in a nap. And then I began shaking. I felt the need to open my legs wider. I knew it was time to push.
I was complete and it was 7pm and time to push. So I pushed, and pushed, and pushed some more. Pushing is not the easiest thing when you have an epidural and can't feel. But then we learned something, my baby girl was posterior. So no wonder it was harder to find her heartbeat earlier - it wasn't all my fault. No wonder I was flopping like a fish, she really was putting a lot of pressure on my tailbone, and causing extreme back pain.
But finally progress what being made, until it wasn't being made any longer. My baby's head was born and her shoulders were stuck. The midwife rotated my baby, I literally saw her limbs spin on my belly, it was the weirdest thing. Then my baby girls feet found my ribs and she pushed off of them, and we heard a loud pop and Nevaeh was here, with a major splash of fluid. Immediately she was taken to the warming pad to be cared for and this is when I first learned the word should dystocia.
There are lots of small details that took place following, many of them are a blur. But when I finally got to hold my sweet baby girl, I was overwhelmed with how much I loved her! The hormones were giving me all the feels. She latched really well - thank the Lord for that blessing! Before leaving the hospital she did have a n X-ray and it was determined her shoulder did not break during delivery, but she was sore and sensitive when being picked up or held around her shoulder area.
My precious Nevaeh loved to be snuggled up with me and she made the most adorable cooing sounds. The first two weeks after giving birth were pretty tough, but not horrible. When my milk came in, I was positive I was drowning her!
I became a mom!
So in a snap shot...
My early labor was about 12 hours (midnight until noon).
My active labor was about 6.5 hours (noon-6:30pm).
My transition was 30 minutes (6:30pm - 7:00pm).
I pushed for 2.5 hours (7pm- 9:31pm).
Baby was persistently posterior - major back labor.
I would consider this labor more painful than normal - in relation to my other birth experiences.
I wanted to share this birth story because every birth is unique! Eventually I will share my 3 other birth stories and you will see how vastly different each birth can be from the other. Having an understanding of how labors vary can help prepare mothers for the unexpected. I wish you all the best in your upcoming birth!
There is nothing quite as exciting as experiencing those first few consistent contractions. You wake up your spouse, you call your doula, you call your parents and the in-laws because you are so excited and ready for this baby!
It’s GO time!
… or is it?
Did you know many hospitals and birth centers don’t want the laboring mother to arrive unless she is in active labor.[i] To put a number on that, usually they want you to be at least 4 centimeters dilated with an active contraction pattern. But how will you know if you are in active labor or not?
If you are still feeling excited and giddy about being in labor, you are probably not in active labor.[ii]
One common rule of thumb is 4-1-1 or 5-1-1, each birth location has different preferences. This means your ACTIVE labor contractions should be coming every 4 to 5 minutes apart, the contractions should last for a minute, and this should be consistent for over an hour.[iii] Following this suggestion is a great way to avoid arriving to the hospital too early in labor.
EARLY LABOR may look like this…
So what should you do during this time? I have 3 suggestions: eat, drink, sleep!!! Seriously! Fuel your body and rest up so you have the energy to push a baby out![iv]
So now that you know what early labor looks like, how will you know when your body is in active labor? Often times there is a noticeable shift. Perhaps you have been resting and you bolt up because THAT contraction felt different! (It probably still isn’t time to go to the hospital, because remember that was just 1 contraction, we are looking for an hours worth of contractions that have that noticeable difference.) Or maybe you have been able to talk with others or at least pay attention to their conversations, but now you have to close your eyes and tune out the noise around you. Whatever it is there is a noticeable shift in your presence.
Some clear signs of ACTIVE LABOR are…
Early labor is commonly the longest part of your labor, so take the time to enjoy these last few moments while your baby is still nestled warmly in your womb. Once you enter active labor, find your rhythm; don’t become fearful when things intensify. Instead, calm your mind, quiet your birth space and take each contraction one at a time!
Some great ways to help you prepare for an AMAZING birth is to take a comprehensive birth class and hire a doula! After taking a class, you will feel more knowledgeable about the labor and birth process and you will feel confident in the decisions you make because you will be educated on the benefits and negatives. Hiring a doula will take the pressure off of you to remember everything. She will provide physical comfort, and she can remind you of ways to cope in early and active labor.
If you are looking for a comprehensive birth class in Winchester, Virginia, please click here to find out when the next class series starts.
If you are looking to hire a doula to help with your AMAZING birth, please click here.
[i] Under normal circumstances women are encouraged to arrive in active labor, but this is not always the rule. Please speak with your care provider to know exactly what they would like you to do.
[ii] At least for first time moms, many second time moms can sometimes hold that excitement until they are further along in labor.
[iii] 4-1-1/5-1-1 is a very normal representation of active contraction patterns, but there can be variations to this rule. I have seen women who have this contraction pattern but are in prodromal labor – that’s a discussion for another day. I have also seen women whose contractions never came closer than 7 minutes apart and yet she was in transition. The key is listening to your body.
[iv] Even if you are planning on having an epidural, please eat, sleep and rest because your body is working very hard even if you cannot feel it. You want to have the strength to push when the time comes.
There is so much joy and excitement expressed to expectant parents, but often we forget that siblings are expecting too.
Maybe we offer the common ‘aren’t you excited to have a little brother or sister?’ and leave it at that. But there are so many more ways to help your children prepare for a new sibling.
1. Take time to explain the happy news!
Some children (like my daughters) will cry happy tears and be thrilled, some may remain neutral on the subject, and still others may be disappointed and in denial. Validate how they feel and listen to them. Let them know that love grows! Explain that you won’t have to split your love between the baby and them, but that your heart will grow and expand to make room to love more and so will their heart. Give them time to process it.
2. Bring your kiddos to your prenatal appointments.
Ask your care provider to include them in whatever way possible. Maybe they can hold the doppler while listening to the baby’s heartbeat. Maybe they can help measure your belly. Ask the doctor to show your child the position in which your baby is laying.
3. Have your child pack a birth bag
There are two different kinds of bags: the homebirth bag and the hospital birth bag. For the mommy planning on birthing in a hospital, talk with your child about the arrangement you made for them… maybe its grandma’s house or their best friends house. Help them prepare a bag to pack. Explain that birth is spontaneous and can happen at any time, even in the middle of the night, so you may have to wake them up. Put something special in their bag, an unexpected gift, like a new book, a lego set, a movie, something to help entertain them as they await the chance to meet their sibling. For the homebirth bag, if your child is going to someone elses house, you can do the same as the hospital birth bag. If they plan to stay and attend your birth, perhaps then your could add some special snacks, print some coloring pages, and give them a disposable camera to document things from their perspective.
4. Let your children attend the birth
Making it a family affair will leave lasting memories. If you plan to have your children present at birth it is important to talk about what they can expect. Talk about the noises you might make… that some of them may sound like you are in pain, but you are just using a lot of power! Talk to them about the contractions, how they come in waves, and that during those waves you might need everyone to be quiet. Give them some ways to be helpful: getting you water in between contractions, getting daddy snacks and water, bringing a cold wash cloth to mommy’s head, singing to mommy and the baby in your belly, cutting the cord once baby is born, maybe they can announce the gender to everyone! ***If your children attend the birth, having someone on call to watch and care for their needs would be highly beneficial. And always have a backup plan in case they no longer wish to be there. You may want to check hospital policies before considering this decision.
5. Go with your child to buy a gift for the new baby
We all find joy in giving… I think kids enjoy it even more. Let them pick something out for their new baby brother or sister. If it is a book, help them write a note to their new sibling. Talk about the day their new sibling is born is the day you will celebrate the new baby’s birthday! You could even have a “0” birthday cake (cupcakes would probably be easier) with a candle and let the older children sing happy birthday to the new baby and blow out the candles.
6. Talk about postpartum.
This is an important conversation you can’t afford NOT to have. Your children need to know that mommy will be sore after having a baby. They need to know your care provider’s orders will be that you rest for a long time, that you can’t hold anything heavier then the baby for a few weeks. Talk about how the baby will probably want to be around mommy more than anyone else, and that mommy’s milk is important to helping baby grow strong and healthy. Explain and practice ways to snuggle with your child and let them know how important those snuggles are to you – no more running and jumping onto mommy, no more elbows and knees climbing all over your body. Tell them about all the ways they could be a big helper to you: getting you a cup of water, getting you baby’s diapers and wipes.
7. Take a Sibling’s Birth Class
Shenandoah Births is so thrilled to be hosting Birth Boot Camp For Siblings! This class is so AMAZING! Without going in to graphic details, instructors share in a child friendly, easy to understand way, the process of labor and birth. Kids get to see visual demonstrations, videos, and hand on activities that help them find their place in your growing family. Siblings want to prepare for an AMAZING birth also and this class is the way to do it!
Tell us how you prepared your kiddos for a new sibling! Comment below!
To schedule a private siblings class with Shenandoah Births, click here.
If you do not live in Winchester, Virginia and would like to find an Instructor near you, please click here.
Or perhaps you would like to buy the Birth Boot Camp Siblings Guide Book, please click here to be directed to your purchase. (This book is included in the live Siblings class)
I am a birth doula, childbirth educator, wife to an amazing man, and mother to four beautiful girls. I love serving families as they bring new life into the world!
Serving Virginia's Shenandoah Valley & West Virginia's Panhandle
Winchester // Stephenson // Stephens City // Strasburg // Berryville // Purceville // Leesburg // Inwood // Gerrardstown // Shepherdstown // Martinsburg // Charlestown // Middletown // Front Royal
Doula // Childbirth Educator // Placenta Encapsulation Specialist