Pelvic Floor Control during Pregnancy

Updated: Jun 30


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. In the presence of joint dysfunctions, chiropractors may also assess the muscles of the pelvis, spine and pelvic floor, and ligament tension of the pelvis and uterus.



pregnancy pelvic floor weakness exercise

In particular, the 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 adjusting the pregnant women, the pelvic floor muscles relaxed.

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.


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 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). This effect needs to be further investigated.


This study was an incredible addition to the chiropractic field, in treating pregnant women, but further investigations and studies are required for more details.


However, if you are pregnant and would like to be adjusted and make sure that your pelvis is aligned during pregnancy, please use the contact me page 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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