Did you know there are 35 muscles that attach to the sacrum? So, if one muscle on the left is tight or if the sacroiliac joint is fixated, it can negatively affect the entire musculoskeletal system. This easily explains duck walking or waddling and why certain positions are just not comfortable for a pregnant woman. It’s not just because you are growing a baby. You are not balanced.
When the entire system is not optimally functioning, that can set you up for issues such as a breech presentation baby, lower back pain, stalled labor, and even postpartum aches and pains. I encourage all of my athletes, yes Birthfit Mamas are athletes, to get the whole system tuned up, especially a few times before the big game.
If you were about to drive across the country on a road trip or compete in the Olympics, would you not check your car out or your body out? Treat your body in preparation for labor and delivery the same way.
Back to the sacrum: the sacrum moves in a rhythmic motion in conjunction with our cranium. This is known as Cranial-Sacral Motion.
This constant motion is carried out by the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF nourishes and protects our nervous system as well as maintains homeostasis and transports hormones from the pituitary gland. Basically, CSF has a pretty freaking important job.
Through this constant, rhythmic motion, the sacrum, ideally, rocks back and forth between nutation and counter-nutation with our breath and movement. Nutation is the specific movement when the sacrum moves anterior and inferior. Counter-nutation is when the sacrum moves posterior and superior. These motions are crucial for normal pelvic function: walking, running, lifting, bending, twisting, and so on.
Whethere your actively training or not, you can see how important the function of the sacrum is. If you still don’t think it’s important to see a chiropractor during pregnancy, let me continue.
These same sacral movements of nutation and counter-nutation translate to labor and delivery. For the baby’s head to descend and enter the pelvic inlet (the pelvis bowl), the sacrum must be in counter-nutation. The mother’s sacrum remains in counter-nutation until the baby is born and the sacrum moves back into relative nutation.
Here’s a thought. Let’s say you sit at a desk for the majority of your pregnancy due to work. Maybe you get to yoga here and there, but the desk is where you spend at least 70% of your time. Your hip flexors, specifically your psoas, are going to become shortened. The psoas attaches to most of the lumbar spine vertebrae, passes through the pelvis, and inserts on the lesser trochanter of the femur (outside the thigh). . When this muscle is tight, I can guarantee your sacrum is pulled into nutation with a fixated sacroiliac joint on the opposite side.. This posture makes it very difficult for your baby to descend.
It is important that your sacrum and pelvis are optimally functioning to help set you up for a more successful labor and delivery. Even with a cesarean birth, an optimally functioning pelvis can help with postpartum recovery and in preventing diastasis recti.
Regular visits to your chiropractor are the best way to maintain optimal sacral and pelvic movement; regular massage and exercises at home are nearly as important to keep the hip flexors pliable and the posterior chain engaged. The gluteus muscle stabilize and support the pelvis when in counter-nutation, so clams, glute bridges, and squats are all great at-home exercises to help support the work of your chiropractor and massage therapist.
Pregnancy is time of growth and preparation. Take the opportunity to support and nourish your body.
-LINDSEY MATHEWS, DC