There’s a funny thing about kids. They tend to take up space. In fact, these bundles of joy get to work as soon as they are conceived. You may not notice at first, but these little rug rats (as my father affectionately referred to my brother and I) start setting up shop from conception and things progress rather quickly. I’d like to outline some of the changes that occur.
Average birth weight at 42 weeks in Canada is about 3.7kg. This means 3.7kg of baby has to fit into the abdomen of mom. This is a significant volume that requires major change in anatomic structures. The most obvious change is the expansion of the abdomen in the anterior direction which produces mom’s belly. What most don’t realize is that baby moves all of the abdominal contents out of the way including the internal organs and the diaphragm. With the addition of 3.7kg, largely in front of the center of gravity, additional physical forces are applied to the supporting structures including the muscles, ligaments and bones. To compensate for this alteration in load, the spine will actually change its shape. The lumbar curve, or low back curve, is accentuated and the pelvis becomes lax, ligaments become stretched and muscles work harder to maintain normal posture. It is more likely than not that these changes will result in discomfort and even pain. There are several ways to minimize the discomfort that many feel during their pregnancy.
A high level of physical fitness is one of the most important factors in staving off musculoskeletal pain due to anatomical changes with pregnancy. For this reason, moms should remain physically active for as long as possible. However, discomfort is going to happen regardless of the fitness level, the question is more to what degree the discomfort will exist. In this case, it’s wise to consult a few different professionals to give you a hand. Massage therapists are able to release tension, tenderness and stress from muscles in the neck, shoulders, back and legs. Less physical stress will result in less emotional stress and higher quality sleep at night and increased energy during the day.
Another key player in the game of physical fitness and health is the Chiropractor. As mentioned above, the spine undergoes major changes to make room and support the 3.7kgs of ankle biter (another description my father used for me). The changes in spinal anatomy will in turn affect the spinal mechanics. Altered spinal mechanics opens the door for increased disc loading, facet syndrome, segmental dysfunction, sprains and strains to name just a few. What all of these conditions have in common is muscle spasm and pain. Since your Chiropractor is the authority on spinal care it is important that you have them monitor your progress throughout your pregnancy. The Chiropractor will ensure your flexibility, strength and joint mobility are all maintained. Keeping your back healthy will keep YOU active and healthy.
Other more obvious players on your health care team are the obstetrician and naturopath. Since you are providing the nutrients for the two of you, it’s important that you get not only enough food, but the right food. Most likely your diet will need some supplementation to ensure you are providing all of the necessary building blocks for life. Your naturopath will be able to guide you through the most important aspects of eating for two.
Pregnancy is an important time to take care of your own health as your baby, rugrat or ankle biter will only be as healthy as you are.