Scoliosis and pregnancy can be scary undertakings on their own, much less combined. However, it’s important to note, the baby is not at risk simply because the mother has scoliosis. It’s true that you may need to take certain precautions, but the health and well-being of your baby are in no way at risk solely due to scoliosis.
If you’re a first time mother simultaneously battling your Cobb angle, you probably have questions about scoliosis and pregnancy. We’re here to provide you with some answers. We put together a Q&A of some common questions and answers asked by expecting mothers with scoliosis.
A: Scoliosis is not hereditary, but it is familial. This means that there are genes that may be passed on that predispose someone to scoliosis, however there is no scoliosis gene. Scoliosis results from a varying combination of environment and genes. Just because you have certain genes doesn’t guarantee you’ll develop scoliosis, but it can make it more likely.
A: It’s rare, but possible, to see abnormalities in the spine through an ultrasound. However, most variations of scoliosis are virtually indiscernible due to the baby’s twisting and turning in the womb.
A: Not much is known about what causes scoliosis or what can be done to prevent it. Some research suggests that exposure to indoor swimming pools or excessive amounts of chlorine during pregnancy may result in the child developing scoliosis. There are also more preliminary theories that heavy metals and mercury are not good for the baby’s development.
A: OB/GYNs generally know very little about the intricacies of scoliosis. This is why it’s important to alert them of your situation as it may affect your pregnancy as well as your delivery. Doing so in advance can give them adequate time to develop a plan that’s right for you.
A: The baby is not at risk simply because the mother has scoliosis. In fact, most women with scoliosis don’t have any problem bearing children. However, be sure to let your OB/GYN and anesthesiologist know about your scoliosis ahead of time. Depending on the curve of the spine, an epidural may be difficult or even impossible for some women with scoliosis. There is also a higher risk of needing to induce labor or have a Cesarean section in women with scoliosis.
A: No, a Cesarean section is not necessary for most women with scoliosis. However, it’s important your OB/GYN and anesthesiologist are aware of your scoliosis in the event that you’d like an epidural. Depending on your curve, an epidural may be difficult to perform without advanced notice. Lumbar spine rotation, not spine curvature, is the primary reason epidurals fail in people with scoliosis.
A: During a Cesarean section, when the baby is pulled from the womb, it is possible for the ligaments in the baby’s neck to be destabilized or damaged. Birth trauma is one known cause for scoliosis, though it can be difficult to pinpoint this as the cause if the scoliosis is not diagnosed in infancy.
A: A spinal fusion rod may cause problems with an epidural. If the rod is low in the spine, an epidural will be difficult if not impossible. Many OB/GYNs refuse to provide epidurals to women with scoliosis fusions. Pregnancy with a rod is possible. However, the whole birthing team needs to be made aware of the rod, so that they may attempt to work around it.
A: In the third trimester, women with scoliosis should be especially careful with their backs. Because of the hormones released during pregnancy, the ligaments are naturally more relaxed. This may lead to an increase of the Cobb angle and the resulting back, hip or leg pain in some women. For those who have had spinal fusion surgery, long-term back pain and decreased satisfaction with the surgery are common after pregnancy.
A: Women with scoliosis may have more pronounced hip, leg and back pain during pregnancy. Depending on the measurement of the Cobb angle, you may have a harder time catching your breath. After the baby is born, the curve could worsen if the mother consistently holds the baby on one side of her body. A body carrier that will balance the weight of the infant is a great investment for women with scoliosis.
A: If you have already begun treatment, you can continue. The only alteration would be reducing the amount and intensity of exercises during the third trimester. If you decide to stop CLEAR treatment completely during your pregnancy, any damage done may be reversed once you begin treatment again afterward. Unfortunately, you cannot begin CLEAR treatment if you’re already pregnant. We require x-rays to assess the intricacies of your scoliosis, which aren’t safe to perform on pregnant women. But we’d be happy to discuss your options during pregnancy and begin CLEAR treatment after you’ve given birth.
Scoliosis and pregnancy don’t need to be scary. If you talk honestly with your OB/GYN and chiropractor about your situation, the whole process can go seamlessly. Most women with scoliosis don’t have any problem bearing children. However, it’s important to know the risks and what you can do to avoid them.
Do you have any other questions on scoliosis and pregnancy? Have you been through a pregnancy with scoliosis? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.