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Chiropractic Advice for Moms-to-Be

The weight gain, the bloating, the nausea... Most new mothers will tell you that the aches and pains of pregnancy are a small price to pay for the beautiful bundle of joy they're rewarded with nine months later.

But as many new mothers can attest, the muscle strains of pregnancy are very real and can be more than just a nuisance. The average weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the baby, can sometimes result in severe discomfort. In fact, studies have found that about half of all expectant mothers will develop low back pain at some point during their pregnancy. This is especially true during late pregnancy, when the baby's head presses down on a woman's back, legs and buttocks, putting pressure on her sciatic nerve. And for those who already suffer from low back pain, the problem can become even worse.

During pregnancy, a woman's center of gravity almost immediately begins to shift forward to the front of her pelvis, according to Dr. Jerome McAndrews, spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). Although a woman's sacrum— or posterior section of her pelvis— has more depth than a man's to enable her to carry a baby, the displaced weight still increases the stress on her joints. "As the baby grows in size," Dr. McAndrews explains, "the woman's weight is projected even farther forward, and the curvature of her lower back is increased, placing extra stress on her spinal disks in that area. As a result, the spine in the upper back area must compensate— and the normal curvature of her upper spine increases as well."

While these changes sound dramatic, Mother Nature does step in to help accommodate them. During pregnancy, hormones are released that help loosen the ligaments attached to the pelvic bones. But even these natural changes designed to accommodate the growing baby can result in postural imbalances, causing pregnant women to be more prone to awkward trips and falls.

What Can You Do?

The following tips are recommend for pregnant women looking for relief from the discomforts of pregnancy:

  • Safe exercise during pregnancy can help strengthen your muscles and prevent discomfort. Try exercising at least three times a week— preceded and followed up by a gentle stretching routine. If you weren't active before your pregnancy, however, now is not the time to start a new fitness routine. Check with your doctor before starting or continuing any exercise regimen during pregnancy.
    Walking, swimming and stationary cycling are relatively safe cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women, because they do not require jerking or bouncing movements. Even jogging, however, can be safe for women who were avid runners before becoming pregnant— if done carefully and under the supervision of a doctor.
    Whatever exercise routine you choose, be sure to do it in an area with secure footing to minimize the likelihood of falls. Also, be certain that your heart rate does not exceed 140 beats per minute during exercise, and that strenuous activity lasts no more than 15 minutes at a time.
    Stop your exercise routine immediately if you notice any unusual symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding, dizziness, nausea, weakness, blurred vision, increased swelling or heart palpitations.
  • Wear flat, sensible shoes. Not only can high or chunky heels be uncomfortable, they can also exacerbate postural imbalances and cause you to be less steady on your feet than you already are. This is especially true as you get farther along in your pregnancy.
  • When picking up older children— or any other object for that matter— bend from the knees, not the waist. And never turn your head when you lift. Just to be on the safe side, avoid picking up heavy objects altogether, if possible.
  • When sleeping, lie on your side with a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Many women find that full-length "body pillows" or "pregnancy wedges" are especially helpful during pregnancy. Lying on your left side is ideal. This position allows unobstructed blood flow, and helps your kidneys flush waste from your body.
  • If you have a job that requires you to sit at a computer for long hours, be sure your workstation is ergonomically correct. Position the computer monitor so the top of the screen is at or below your eye level, and place your feet on a small footrest to take pressure off your legs and feet. Also, take periodic breaks every 30 minutes by taking a quick walk around the office.
  • Eat small meals or snacks every four to five hours— rather than the usual three large meals— to help keep nausea or extreme hunger at bay. Good snacks include crackers or yogurt— bland foods that are high in carbohydrates and protein. Keep saltines in your desk drawer or purse to help stave off waves of "morning sickness" that can, unfortunately, occur at any time throughout the day.
  • Folic acid supplements— at least 400 micrograms (mcg) a day— before and during pregnancy have been shown to decrease the risk of neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida. Some doctors recommend even more for women who are already pregnant, or who previously gave birth to a child with a neural tube defect. However, check with your doctor before taking this or any other vitamin or herbal supplement. Some herbs and supplements that are considered perfectly safe for non-pregnant women can be dangerous or harmful to the baby or expectant mother.
  • Get plenty of rest. Don't let the demands of work and family life put you and your baby at risk. Pamper yourself, and ask for help if you need it. Take a nap if you're tired, or lie down and elevate your feet for a few moments when you need a break.

Visit the Chiropractor

Visit your doctor of chiropractic. Before you become pregnant, your doctor of chiropractic can detect any pre-existing imbalances in the pelvis or elsewhere in your body that could make pregnancy discomfort even worse— or leave you with additional neuromusculoskeletal problems after childbirth.

Many pregnant women have found that chiropractic adjustments provide relief from the increased low back pain brought on by pregnancy. Also, scientific studies have found that spinal manipulation carries no increased risk to the pregnant woman or her baby. Chiropractic's non-drug, non-surgical approach to back pain can be especially attractive to pregnant women who are trying to avoid over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Doctors of chiropractic can also offer nutrition, ergonomic and exercise advice that will help you avoid the discomforts of pregnancy.

Chiropractic care can also be helpful after childbirth. In the eight weeks following labor and delivery, the ligaments that loosened during pregnancy begin to tighten up again. Ideally, joint problems brought on during pregnancy from improper lifting or reaching should be treated before the ligaments return to their pre-pregnancy state. In addition, as the upper and lower spine return to normal, muscle tension, headaches, rib discomfort and shoulder problems can result. Your doctor of chiropractic can help.

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Testimonials

Reviews By Our Satisfied Patients

  • "I have been to 7 different chiropractors in the last 15 years.
    Then a friend told me about Dr. Sheffield in Austin. Even though I live 50 miles away from Westlake, I attended one of her "Lunch & Learn" luncheons and heard her speak. I heard things I had never heard before about the body as well as similar information that I knew about how chiropractic works. I was so glad I came to the luncheon that day.
    Dr. Sheffield has the most comprehensive approach I have ever been exposed to in chiropractic care. She has been getting to the root of my chronic condition and treating it and it's working. She has taken me to an entirely new level of healing than ever before. She is also very "aware" of what the body needs.
    Additionally, I feel so cared for by Dr. Sheffield. This extends to her Assistant, Sandra, also. They are both very caring people, and you can feel how much they care about you.
    I cannot recommend her enough!
    I feel like I am finally going to be well!"
    Cindy C
  • "Before visiting Dr. Katerina Sheffield, I had visited multiple chiropractors and a back specialist for almost 2 years on a weekly basis to address my severe lower back pain. I couldn’t see the end in sight. I had been thinking I’d have to get use to living with my lower back pain at just age 25. After visiting my massage therapist, Stacia Guerrero, she advised that I see Dr. Sheffield because my issues were structural, and not just muscular. Working with Dr. Sheffield, I found that her upper cervical work got right to the cause of my problem. I saw faster results in just a few months than in the past 2 years. I found her commitment to my healing process reassuring and I was surprised how quickly I noticed results. After just a few months, I feel so blessed that I found her. Thank you so much and I highly recommend Dr. Sheffield to anyone seeking chiropractic work."
    John E
  • "When I first came to the office, I was experiencing neck and spine pain that was preventing me from sleeping well. The pain was consistently at an 8 out of 10! I have seen other chiropractors in the past but with only minimal results.
    After a few treatments with Dr. Sheffield I started seeing differences in my sleep and mobility as well as decrease in the pain I had lived with for over 20 years! I was surprised and pleased that 11 consecutive weeks helped change my habits! Overall, my experience has been great and I am very grateful for Dr. Sheffield’s help."
    Bridge B
  • "I have found the last piece of the puzzle in the treatment of mid thoracic, neck pain and headaches. I’ve been on a 30 year journey with pain brought in partly because of poor posture and car accidents where I was rear ended at 55 to 60 miles per hour. ... Years later as back and neck pain set in I sought physical therapy believing this would “take care of it” and since I’m a PT myself, I had high hopes that it would. ...Becoming certified in Pilates instruction, I continued to improve some but the neck pain never stopped and the headaches got worse over time. ... At a friend’s suggestion I saw Dr. Sheffield. X-rays revealed some significant disc degeneration and improper weight bearing through the neck. Physical exam revealed mal-alignment of my atlas and axis. Treatment of these areas has finally, for the firs time in years, given me weeks now of NO headaches! I wish I’d have gotten here sooner!"
    Pam T
  • "I started seeing Dr. Sheffield because my neck and shoulder were hurting. It was a 9 1/2 out of 10. I was unable to work without hurting. In the past I have tried massage and acupuncture with no long lasting results. After treatments with Dr. Sheffield, I started seeing differences in lifting heavy boxes and setting up displays, which are integral parts of my job. Dr. Sheffield listens to you and advises you on things you can do at home to stay healthy. She is kind, sweet and always a pleasure to see. Her staff is friendly and helpful. She had made a difference in my life and I would recommend her to anyone needing help with pain. I feel so much better and found the experience at Dr. Sheffield's office very rewarding."
    Terry M.
  • "I started seeing Dr. Sheffield after being encouraged time and time again by a friend of mine. For over a decade I had struggled with neck pain and headaches so intense I would vomit form the pain. I’ve tried everything- steroid shots, volume shots, all kinds of drugs- and nothing touched the pain. I own a construction company so you can imagine how difficult it was to maintain my normal work load while dealing with these episodes. I stay very busy with intense activities like building homes and competing in 3 day nonstop ultra marathons which tend to aggravate my symptoms. Dr. Sheffield took the time to teach me proper ergonomics to maintain my adjustments. Being consistent and following her treatment plan over the last 2 months has allowed my headaches and neck pain to become manageable for the first time ever. It’s working and that makes it worth the 2 hour drive each way."
    David L
  • "I first came to Dr. Sheffield after an open-minded doctor who chooses to treat, rather than just medicate, recommended her to me. Because it is as much as it is a 175-mile round trip from my house, I had intended to be open minded enough to try it.

    Because of a lifetime of injuries from a gun shot wound to the mouth as a child, to oil field and construction injuries, plus 40+ years as a stone mason etc pain was a way of life, but at the age of 51 heart problems and strokes limited my activities. Having tried physical therapy, acupuncture and cupping, work hardening programs and years of chiropractic treatment with the then president of the American Chiropractic Association, with each having limited or temporary relief.

    So, after being treated for only a few sessions I experienced noticeable and longer periods of relief. With 66 years just a few months away, and other health problem, I am not calling this a miracle, but your help has surely been a blessing."
    Steve J
  • "I began seeing Dr. Shefield in April. When I arrived at her office, I could barely walk. I had been suffering with extreme lower back pain for quite some time but seemed to somehow "live" with it. In the month of March, while vacationing, I actually collapsed in so much pain. Dr. Shefield sent me to have x-rays done and my L4,5,6 discs were out and I also had an Atlas mis-alignment. I had no idea how much trauma had been done to my back over a course a several years letting this problem go.
    Dr. Shefield has truly kept me from having to have back surgery. I am no longer suffering with any back pain, neck pain, nor headaches. I can exercise again and wear my heels. She is an amazing Doctor! Until you suffer back pain you have no idea just HOW painful it can be. I am forever grateful for her"
    Laura B
  • "Dr. Sheffield has been great. My first visit was based on a recommendation from a friend when I had severely tweaked my lower back , and after just a couple of appointments, I saw a vastly reduced level of pain. At this point, I leave the office feeling better than when I arrived and look forward to my adjustments. I would highly recommend Westlake Chiropractic to anyone looking for a non-invasive approach to managing their spinal issues"
    Matt B
  • "I am 57 and my back NOW feels like it did when I was 35. I have been seeing Dr. Sheffield for about 4 months now, and now I am wondering why I went to all the other chiropractors…. Dr. Sheffield specializes in ATLAS (the vertebrae closest to the skull) therapy which little did I know, when correctly leveled, can have a huge impact on the rest of your bost – like MY LOWER BACK! It used to take me a full 30 seconds to get out of my chair in my office – stretch, groan a bit, stretch some more - and now I POP OUT of my chair like a teenager. Flying on planes is NOTHING now… as it used to be my worst nightmare. Check it out guys… my wife and my 22-year-old daughter is now going to see her…."
    Johnny S
  • "A fantastic place with a warm, beautiful and friendly atmosphere!
    Dr. Katerina has worked wonders with my neck and shoulder issues. After many months of pain and surgeries, I gave Westlake Chiropractic a try. I'm certainly happy that I did!
    Thanks to Katerina, I have regained a great deal of range of motion in my spine and shoulders. I'm now able to workout and do the things that I love in life!"
    Scott M
  • "I have been a patient of Dr. Sheffield for two years. I have had surgery for scoliosis so my needs as a patient are unique. Dr. Sheffields gentle technique and pinpoint accuracy with adjustments is what gave me relief and results after years of discomfort. Headaches went away, lower back pain left and my quality of life improved. I value that she also offers holistic care and can speak to other ailments and conditions and make recommendations for supplements and other treatments that would aid healing. She is an outstanding provider!"
    Christiana W.
  • "MD recommended

    I feel very fortunate to have found Dr. Katerina Sheffield! She did a careful exam on me, including specific evaluations of spine positions and my leg lengths. The actual adjustments were very gentle but powerfully effective. I had immediate relief from low back pain even though I only needed a slight neck adjustment. Best of all, my posture is erect with no effort at all. This is effective and gentle chiropractic as I have never experienced before!"
    Moira D., MD
  • "Relief for the first time

    I’ve had chronic back pain for much of my life. Over the years I’ve seen several different chiropractors with only a little lasting improvement, and no real idea what the problem was. Dr. Sheffield was the first chiropractor to diagnose that I have a rare congenital defect causing my back pain, and she has tailored a treatment plan that is, for the first time, giving me real relief. She is a conscientious and caring doctor."
    Don
  • "Dr. Sheffield has changed my life and my Spinal health is only getting stronger and better as I keep going to her. Anytime I feel something pulling or not right, I tell her the exact spot and the symptom and she corrects it! I am constantly amazed at her interaction with her patients, her ability to make you feel you are being healed and calm at the same time. She is changing lives, let her change yours! Haylee G. Dr. Sheffield is not only a remarkable practitioner, but a wonderful person. As patients of hers, my son and I can unequivocally say she is the best chiropractor in Austin."
    Kara B. - Austin, TX