Pelvic Floor Control during Pregnancy

Updated: Feb 24


For years, many women have been seeking chiropractic care during pregnancy. There has been a lot of research studies focusing on the benefits of chiropractic care for both mother and baby (please see previous post Chiropractic care during pregnancy).


When assessing a pregnant woman from a chiropractic perspective, we assess the pelvis, sacrum, pubic bones and the movement of each joint. We also assess the muscles and possible ligament tension of the pelvis, pelvic floor and uterus.


Joint dysfunctions of the pelvis and sacrum can create tightening and spasm of muscles and ligaments in this area. This in turn may affect the pelvic floor as its origin connects to the pelvis and sacrum.


 

pregnancy pelvic floor weakness exercise

Our pelvic floor muscles play a big role in spinal stabilization, but are also known to have active roles in pregnancy and childbirth. If the pelvic floor muscles are damaged or under stress, health issues like incontinence, vaginal prolapse, or bladder weakness may occur. Many of these issues can cause a lot of stress upon women.


In fact, in Australia over 5 million Australians experience bladder/bowel control problems. Urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women. In addition, 70% of these people that are affected by urinary leakage, do not seek advice or treatment.


Urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women.

In a recent study (2016), Dr. Heidi Haavik, Dr. Jenny Kruger and Prof. Bernadette Murphy prove that adjusting vertebral subluxations (joint dysfunctions) alter pelvic floor function. A group of pregnant women were adjusted by chiropractic methods, and another group of non-pregnant women were adjusted by chiropractic methods. The study demonstrated that after adjusting the pregnant women, the pelvic floor muscles relaxed.


"The study demonstrated that after a chiropractic adjustment, the pregnant women had relaxed pelvic floor muscles."

This relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles could mean that chiropractic care could be of benefit for pregnant women wanting a natural vaginal delivery. For a woman in labour, the ability to relax and contract pelvic floor muscles (having complete control) is incredibly important, as the contractions and relaxation allows for the baby to move through the birth canal. The ability to relax and contract pelvic floor muscles is much more beneficial and preferred over a hypertonic (tight) pelvic floor.


For a woman in labour, the ability to relax and contract pelvic floor muscles (having complete control) is incredibly important, as the contractions and relaxation allows for the baby to move through the birth canal.

Another interesting aspect of this study was that the non-pregnant women that were adjusted (comparison group), were able to contract their pelvic floor muscles to a certain degree, the degree that only elite athletes can contract to. It may also be possible, that the chiropractic adjustment can have a preventative effect against future pelvic floor dysfunction (e.g. urinary incontinence).


To find our more about chiropractic care during pregnancy click here. If you are pregnant and would like to be adjusted and make sure that your pelvis is aligned during pregnancy, please contact the clinic to book an appointment.



References:

1. Effect of Spinal Manipulation on Pelvic Floor Functional Changes in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women: A Preliminary Study. Haavik, Heidi et al. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics , Volume 39 , Issue 5 , 339 – 347.

2. https://www.continence.org.au/pages/key-statistics.html

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