Relaxin - does it or doesn't it?

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Relaxin - does it or doesn't it?

Relaxin - does it or doesn't it?
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Hi, I have some queries about relaxin. I have always understood that it softens muscles, ligaments, tendons, sphincters somewhat indiscriminately, which is why SPD/PGP, increased indigestion & heartburn etc occur, and that it is one of the reasons it is important not to overstretch during pregnancy. I am aware of research that states that there is insufficient clinical evidence that SPD/PGP is prolonged by elevated relaxin levels as a result of breastfeeding. However, I am not aware that relaxin is not still considered to possibly come into play in destabilising joints in pregnancy, especially teh symphisis pubis, if care is not taken. This has come to the fore tonight as I have been reading this post on Facebook: PREGNANCY SCIENCE UPDATE: The hormone RELAXIN inhibits uterine contraction, increases the length of the interpubic ligament, and softens the cervix. IT DOES NOT increase the laxity of the joints nor affect the whole body, making pregnant women more susceptible to joint injury. About 30 years ago, it was hypothesized that pregnancy hormones created an all-over joint hypermobility, a notion widely spread in the 1980s. More recent research has shown that there is NO CORRELATION between pregnancy hormones and joint mobility. WE NEED TO STOP TEACHING THIS INFO IN PREGNANCY COURSES. What we do have is a widespread issue of women without enough strength to carry the rapidly-increasing load of pregnancy, then straining their ligaments, and getting injured. People also do not have enough information on how to align their body correctly to know when they're stretching a muscle or when they're stretching a ligament. It's time to teach them, don't you think? I'd be grateful for any thoughts you have or links to research I can read. Many thanks, Lx
Filed under: spd, relaxin, PGP
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Mon, Nov 12 2012 5:31 AM In reply to
marionsymes

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Dear Lucy

Thanks for this very valuable update on relaxin effects. I haven't managed to access the article but the content you cite does go against what I've always taught about relaxin effects. I do agree with what you say about women's bodies and the importance of teaching alignment in our classes. My understanding re digestive and some other changes in pregnancy has always been that these were due to progesterone produced initially by the fertilised ovum and then by the placenta. Progesterone relaxes all smooth muscle. Its benefits include preventing uterine contractions in pregnancy. Its level drops as part of the stimulus to labour onset. It acts on the respiratory centre to enhance carbon dioxide excretion from the fetus. Progesterone is also involved in the changes in the breasts in preparation for breast feeding. It's other effects include relaxation of the upper sphincter (opening) of the stomach predisposing to heartburn and indigestion,slowing gut motility-constipation, relaxing smooth muscle of blood vessels predisposing to varicose veins & piles. I would appreciate any other current knowledge that anyone can add to this valuable thread about relaxin.

Marion

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Mon, Nov 12 2012 5:56 AM In reply to
erylholt

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I totally agree with Marion's comments. Can you give us a link to this Facebook post? Eryl
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Mon, Nov 12 2012 7:08 AM In reply to
Jeff

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Re: Relaxin - does it or doesn't it?
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Dear all,

When I searched this site for "relaxin" I got 19 hits back. You may want to check them out. Here is a link to something Francoise wrote about it and others have also wrote important info regarding this topic right here on the forum.

http://birthlightforum.com/forums/p/896/2783.aspx#2783

Tips on searching this forum are in the HOW TO forum on this site :http://birthlightforum.com/forums/t/295.aspx

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Jeff
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Mon, Nov 12 2012 12:50 PM In reply to
lucyb

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Brilliant - thanks Jeff for the link, and thanks Marion & Eryl - I think in my reading of the post, I got fixated on relaxin, forgetting that other hormones are playing a part in softening etc. The post I mentioned was posted 7 November on the page below - it should still be there to read if you scroll down. https://www.facebook.com/AlignedandWellProgram
Filed under: spd, relaxin, PGP, progesterone
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Mon, Nov 12 2012 7:28 PM In reply to
francoisef

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Hi Lucy, Coming late on this interesting discussion and appreciating Marion's comments on the link with progesterone, I thought it would be helpful to do a quick Pubmed search to find out about recent research in the light of your post. First of all I could not identify any significant paper that might be the source of the tide turning view you quote. The world specialist in the field seems to be Kristiansson at the Karolinska Institute in Stokholm, where my friend Kirsteen Uvnas Moberg is the lead researcher on oxytocin. (I will email her and ask her for latest references about relaxin). Key studies were not carried out in the 1980s but in the late 1990s, simultaneous with an emerging focus on the connection between back pain and symphysis pubis diastasis in pregnancy (later to be unified under PGP). To me the most elegant study was a predictive comparison of women with IVF pregnancies (who had undergone ovarian stimulation) and women with spontaenous pregnancies. As anticipated, women with IVF pregnancy had more serum relaxin (up to twice as much) in both early and late pregnancies, showing a clear link between relaxin and PGP/back pain when all other confounding factors were eliminated (1998). I found a couple of recent articles (2011) but they were reviews of past research with similar findings. I wonder whether you could identify the source of the information quoted in the article you mention in your post. There may be new physiological research about how relaxin works in fibrous tissue (not just muscle or ligament but also connective tissue) in the light of recent research on connective tissue and I am very interested to find out more about this if possible. There is a complex orchestration of the hormones, as Marion points out, so that saying backache=relaxin (hormone cause spotted!)= go to X chiropractor or take X pill (most entries on the internet) is clearly misleading. Perhaps rather than starting with what relaxin does or does not, we need to look at 'the woman': how stressed is she at conception time? and in the job she does during pregnancy? We know that high levels of stress and anxiety cause hormonal changes and that pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. Over my years of teaching I have observed a trend that I am seeking to explain: first of all I see more pregnant women affected by lower back pain and pelvic pain other than stretch pains (the latter typically occurring between 18-22 weeks while the former seem to peak around 11-14 weeks) in early pregnancy and there seem to be a correlation with third trimester low back pain/PGP, just as the classic articles on relaxin describe. What puzzles me however is that the sufferers are either women who do not exercise regularly or intense exercisers who go to Yoga, Pilates or the gym a lot and who are very toned. The middle range exercisers seem to be less at risk between unfit and over-fit ladies. For this reason I am interested in a) understanding better what happens around the 2 progesterone peaks that relaxin cannot be dissociated from and b) in the light of this understanding, offering more specifically appropriate yoga practices for pregnant women in the first trimester. It may be damaging to push one's body through intense activities at sensitive times, when there are no deterrent pregnancy sickness messages or exhaustion. And you are right, Lucy, women in the computer age are less strong, and diet may be a risk factor too. In my quick search I have found nothing that challenges the correlation between low back pain/PGP in early pregnancy and similar symptoms in late pregnancy, whether this is imputed to relaxin or not. So perhaps this is what we need to focus on and not try too hard to identify the bad guy... back to yoga breathing in aligned supported positions, to assist the parasympathetic regulation of hormone production through gentle expanded exhalations... I would like to be able to explain in an articulate informed way what I know intuitively, that full yoga breathing without retention during pregnancy is the best tool we have to create optimal hormonal balance but right now I don't know enough neurophysiology, particularly around the functioning of the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenals). Working on it though, let's keep this thread going... thanks and best wishes Francoise.