Dr. Amanda Kugel, a Tumwater-based chiropractor gave birth to her first child in early August and remembers well the joys, and challenges, of pregnancy.
I recently sat down with the doctor and new mom to talk about her passion for helping women who are mothers-to-be through her specialized chiropractic training and experiences.
Q: What has created your passion for the care of women and children?
A: I spent nearly four years working as a WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutrition counselor prior to becoming a chiropractor. Every day I witnessed pregnancy-related discomforts, which many women were told is “normal.” Sometimes strong pain medications were prescribed, many of them untested on pregnant women and their unborn babies.
I chose to specialize in chiropractic care during pregnancy and for children to offer a safe, effective option that women may be unaware of. The huge hormonal and chemical changes during pregnancy are sensed and coordinated by the nervous system. My goal in offering chiropractic care is to remove any interference on that communication system, such as improperly moving joints or tight musculature, in order to improve the body’s function, promoting healthy moms and babies.
Q: What specialized trainings and certifications do you have for working with pregnant women and infants?
A: I have completed advanced coursework in pediatric and prenatal adjusting through the ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association) program. We learn safe and gentle techniques suited for women pre-conception, throughout pregnancy and beginning as soon as the baby is born. I am also certified in the Webster Technique: a specific analysis of the sacrum, the bone at the base of the spine that forms the keystone of our pelvis, and the gentle adjustments to properly align it.
Q: What are the primary reasons women seek Chiropractic care during pregnancy?
A: Headache, mid and low back pain, rib pain and sciatica are common pain related reasons for pregnant women to seek chiropractic care. The weight changes of pregnancy, primarily in the abdomen, exert a forward and downward pressure on the spine, changing a woman’s center of gravity and gait. This tends to increase the pressure on the sensitive joints in the low back and sacroiliac joints, the joints where your spine meets your pelvis, sometimes leading to significant pain in the low back down through the legs. Also the head tends to shift forward as our center of gravity changes, placing stress on the joints and muscles in the head, neck and shoulders.
I have experienced all of these changes myself during my pregnancy. My formerly graceful movements were replaced with rolling over instead of sitting upright to get out of bed, or asking my husband for a helpful hand to boost me out of the chair. I truly want to emphasize that women shouldn’t wait until they are in pain to seek help during this time. I encourage all women, even before conceiving, to be assessed by their chiropractor to make sure their body is functioning optimally and prepared for the changes that are about to occur.
Q: Tell me a little more about the Webster Technique.
A: The Webster Technique assesses sacral misalignment that can contribute to difficult labor in a few ways. First, the misalignment of the sacrum can interfere with nerve communication to the muscles of the uterus. These muscles contract in a coordinated fashion during labor to help push the baby down and out. Next, it can misalign the other pelvic bones, which form the “exit” for the baby to pass through during labor and delivery. Finally, sacral misalignment can tighten pelvic muscles and ligaments. Any of these effects on the pelvic bones or uterine position can interfere with a baby’s ability to assume the best position for birth – ideally head-down.
Q: What are the specific benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy?
A: Chiropractic care can help reduce Mom’s stress and discomfort, reducing the body’s time in “fight or flight mode.” While in this state, the body isn’t putting energy towards growth and development. Ideally our bodies are in “rest and digest mode,” promoting growth & development. By decreasing stress and discomfort, energy can be focused on important things, like growing a small human being.
Proper sacral and pelvic alignment may increase comfort during delivery, decreasing the need for pain medication, which can slow labor progress and can lead to interventions such as use of forceps or C-section. Proper alignment of the sacroiliac joints decreases the likelihood of back labor. Optimal pelvic balance allows greater room for the baby to develop in the womb, reducing potential restrictions on growing cranial bones, the spine and other structures.
Q: What are the specific benefits of chiropractic care after birth?
A: New moms often experience aches and pains due to the unfamiliar body positions when breastfeeding and holding a newborn. I remember contorting my body for long periods of time in any way necessary to feed and comfort my daughter, and I even know better! Fatigue from sleepless nights and parenthood’s new demands can be helped with regular adjustments. I recommend having the newborn checked soon after birth as well since the birth process can impact movement on the delicate joints of infant’s head and neck, possibly leading to latch issues during nursing, colic, reflux or poor sleep.
To make an appointment with Dr. Kugel, contact Eastside Chiropractic by calling 360-459-9000 or visit their website at www.eastsidechiro.org.