2011-04-14 / Features

Stay Healthy And Comfortable During Pregnancy

While pregnancy is a time of joy, it can include some inconveniences such as back pain and muscle strain.

But there are many easy ways to stay healthy and relatively pain-free during pregnancy.

“The average weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the growing baby, may result in mild to severe discomfort for pregnant women,” says Dr. Rick McMichael, president of the American Chiropractic Association. “Studies show that about half of all pregnant women will develop low-back pain at some point.”

Expectant mothers can take steps to limit discomfort, say experts.

Get exercise

Gone are the days when bed rest was considered the most sensible activity when pregnant. Nowadays, doctors know moderate exercise can help prevent excessive weight gain, reduce risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, prepare the body for childbirth and reduce back pain.

Walking, swimming and stationary cycling are relatively safe cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women because they don’t require jerking or bouncing. Before starting an exercise plan, consult your medical or chiropractic physician. Stop exercising immediately if you notice unusual symptoms, such as bleeding, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, increased swelling or heart palpitations.

Keep your back pain-free

During pregnancy a woman’s center of gravity almost immediately begins shifting forward to the front of her pelvis. The displaced weight increases stress on joints. As the baby grows, the woman’s weight is projected even farther forward, and the curvature of her lower back is increased, which can cause back pain.

Many pregnant women have found that chiropractic adjustments provide relief from back pain brought on by pregnancy. Chiropractic manipulation is safe for pregnant women and their ba- bies and can be especially appealing to those trying to avoid medications.

“Chiropractic is a conservative form of health care,” explains Dr. McMichael. “We focus on the whole person and reduce pain and improve function naturally, without drugs.”

Be safe and comfortable

How you move, sit and sleep will impact how you feel. When picking up children and heavy objects, bend from the knees not the waist. And never turn your head when you lift.

Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to take pressure and strain off your lower back. If you work long hours at a computer, make sure the screen is below eye level and use a small footrest to take pressure off your legs and feet, and get up to walk around periodically.

Expectant moms should invest in multiple pairs of flat, sensible shoes. High heels can worsen the forward pelvic tilt, exacerbate postural imbalances and make you less steady on your feet, especially as pregnancy progresses.

For more tips on staying healthy, visit www.acatoday.org/patients.

“Pregnancy brings amazing changes to a woman’s body and regular hands-on care can help your body adjust to these changes,” says Dr. McMichael. “Taking care of yourself is the best way to ensure you enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible.”

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