The Fourth Trimester

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Pregnancy is instinctive, it is an extraordinary journey where we become vividly aware of the of the biomechanics and physiological changes that promote growth and development of the fetus over a span of nine months. This drastic shift of changes make the female body’s strength and innate abilities so much more apparent. However, with immense change comes the need to adapt or in the case of birth, the time to heal.

During a vaginal birth, the same muscles of the low back, hips, and pelvis that support the weight of the baby have to then allow for optimal space for the delivery of the baby. Relaxin is a vital birth hormone that facilitates the process by allowing for expansion of pelvic ligaments. The surrounding uterine and pelvic muscles rhythmically contract and relax as the baby descends down and out of the pelvis. Depending on the size of the baby, and the amount of time spent pushing, the surrounding structures can become compromised resulting in ligament laxity, tearing, pelvic misalignment, and imbalance in surrounding musculature.

In a cesarean birth, uterine and abdominal muscles are compromised. These core muscles help in maintaining your center of gravity so that you are able to have stability when performing everyday movements such as sitting, standing, lifting and so much more. The core consists of 4 muscular walls, the abdominal wall, the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, and the back muscles. All of these muscle groups work together in performing every movement, supporting and protecting internal organs, and they also play a huge role in breathing.

Thinking of pregnancy as a phase of three trimesters leaves out a fundamental component, the postpartum period. After birth, the female body then has to recover and restore itself in order to breastfeed and provide for the baby. Remember the Relaxin hormone mentioned? Relaxin remains in the bloodstream for months after birth. The sustained presence of Relaxin allows the ligaments and musculature to return to their optimal length and for the body to adapt . Therefore that few weeks of time following birth it is important to get care and be aware of easily adopted bad habits such as bad posture, improper movements (ie: crunching motions), and compensatory positions during this time period. Bad habits at this phase will affect your postpartum body as well as future ligament and muscle conformation, this can eventually lead to long-term postural faults, improper alignment, and chronic pain.

Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy and postpartum can help not only speed up the recovery time by providing proper nervous system function, but it also allows for the low back, hips, and pelvis to restore proper alignment and creates more bodily awareness so that you do not adopt bad habits postpartum. Posture is also important during breastfeeding. It is very common for mothers to experience mid back and neck pain postpartum due to poor posture while breastfeeding and caring for baby. Seeking care immediately after birth can help decrease the frequency of unwanted symptoms such as core weakness, mid back and neck stiffness, radiating pain, instability in the low back/pelvis and stress. Recovery matters, it sets the standard of health for your future and future pregnancies.

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