By Laylan Connoly / Staff Writer
The Orange County Register
As I tried to lift my 2-year-old son, a sharp pain shot down my back, and I cringed in agony.
The back pain that I’d dealt with for years was creeping back, just as my belly started to grow during my fourth month of pregnancy.
For about a month, I tried to suck it up and deal with it. I treated myself to a pregnancy massage, instructing the therapist to ignore the rest of my aching body and rub out the big knot that had formed on the right side of my lower back.
I tried to relax and stay on the couch and rely more on my husband’s help for the care of our son.
But my job as an on-the-go reporter doesn’t allow for much downtime, so I knew what I had to do: Go see my chiropractor.
Everyone has different views about seeking chiropractic help. Some people say it helps everything from asthma to infertility. Others grimace at the slight mention of a chiropractor.
A few years ago, I’d suffered back pain that eventually got so bad I couldn’t bend down to load the dishwasher. I sought relief from Dr. Larry Omo, a chiropractor who has a practice in Lakewood and lives in Garden Grove. A few visits to his office, and I was good as new.
But being pregnant and getting twisted up like a pretzel made me nervous. I’ve gone to enough prenatal yoga classes to know that big twists are not recommended after the second and third trimester.
I started doing some research. According to the American Pregnancy Association, most chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant, and some have additional training for prenatal and postnatal care.
A growing belly can increase the back’s curve, and the pelvic area changes as the hips expand. Hunching over with more weight on the front side of the body can cause the pelvic bones to misalign and reduce the amount of room for the baby.
Discussing my pain with Omo and reading extensively on the topic calmed my nerves, and I decided to go forward with chiropractic care. Omo’s table had a pop-out section for my belly, so I could lie face down as he worked on the knot that had developed in my back. He also incorporated massage work on tight areas and worked on stretching the muscles out. After three visits, my back pain was cleared up.
Omo says it’s common for pregnant women to come to his office seeking relief. A substance called relaxin kicks in during pregnancy, helping to soften the ligaments so your body can expand for the birth of the baby, he explains. “When a pregnant woman advances into her pregnancy, and the relaxin comes on and you have more weight carrying in the front, the mom has to adjust posture to carry the weight,” he says.
That can cause instability in the ligaments, and the muscles try to overcompensate, he says. The muscles start working double duty – moving and stabilizing because of the extra weight and lack of stability.
There are also sciatic nerve issues that can cause shooting pain down the legs that can be eased with help from a chiropractor, Omo says.
“When you have good alignment and muscle balance going into birth, you will optimize the ability for the baby to come out. It will be less stressful for the mom,” Omo said. “Birthing is a symmetrical process. We try to keep the back relaxed and symmetrical.”
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