Chiropractic care in pregnancy is an essential ingredient to your pre-natal care choices. A large percentage of all pregnant women experience back discomfort/ pain during pregnancy. This is due to the rapid growth of the baby and an interference to your body’s normal structural adaptations to that growth. Pre-existing, unnoticed imbalances in your spine and pelvis become overtaxed during these times. The added stresses lead to discomfort and difficulty while performing routine, daily activities. Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy can relieve and even prevent the common discomforts experienced in pregnancy. Specific adjustments eliminate these stresses in your spine, restore balance to your pelvis and result in greater comfort and lifestyle improvements.
Comfort for your baby, too.
As your baby develops, your uterus enlarges to accommodate the rapid growth. So long as the pelvis is in a balanced state, the ligaments connected to the uterus maintain an equalized, supportive suspension for the uterus. If your pelvis is out of balance in any way, these ligaments become torqued and twisted, causing a condition known as constraint to your uterus.
This constraint limits the space of the developing baby. Any compromised position for the baby throughout pregnancy will affect his or her optimal development. Conditions such as torticollis can occur because a baby’s space was cramped in-utero. If the woman’s uterus is constrained as birth approaches, the baby is prevented from getting into the best possible position for birth. Even if the baby is in the desirable head down position, oftentimes constraint to the uterus affects the baby’s head from moving into the ideal presentation for delivery. The head may be slightly tilted off to one side or even more traumatically, present in the posterior position.
Any baby position even slightly off during birth will slow down labor, and add pain to both the mother and baby. Many women have been told that their babies were too big, or labor “just slowed down” when it was really the baby’s presentation interfering with the normal process and progression. Avoidable interventions are implemented turning a natural process into an operative one. Doctors of Chiropractic work specifically with your pelvis throughout pregnancy, restoring a state of balance and creating an environment for an easier, safer delivery.
Preparing for a Safer Birth
Dystocia is defined as difficult labor and is something every woman wants to avoid. In addition to the pain and exhaustion caused by long, difficult labors, dystocia leads to multiple, medical interventions which may be physically and emotionally traumatic to both you and your baby.
Some of these interventions are the administering of pitocin, the use of epidurals, painful episiotomies, forceful pulling on the baby’s fragile spine, vacuum extraction, forceps and perhaps even c-sections. Each of these procedures carries a high risk of injury to you, your baby or both! However, all of these procedures used to hasten the delivery process can be avoided if delivery goes more smoothly to begin with. When reviewing the obstetric texts, the reported reasons for dystocia are caused by pelvic imbalance and its resulting effects on your uterus and your baby’s position.
Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy restores balance to your pelvic muscles and ligaments and therefore leads to safer and easier deliveries for you and your baby. Additionally, the chiropractic adjustment removes interference to the nervous system allowing your uterus to function at its maximum potential. Published studies have indicated that chiropractic care does in fact reduce labor time. In our office, we offer specific analysis and adjustments for your special needs in pregnancy. You and your baby’s continued safety and comfort is primary in our care.
This pregnancy, offer yourself the best! Include the many benefits chiropractic offers in your prenatal care choices. Call for your individual consultation. Give you and your baby the opportunity for a more comfortable pregnancy and a safer, easier birth!
During pregnancy, weight-bearing changes occurs. This can cause an added stress to the spine. Chiropractic care during pregnancy not only can help you to stay more comfortable, but can also help to facilitate your birth.
Chiropractic care during pregnancy has been shown to significantly reduce the length of time a woman labors. First time moms averaged a 24 percent shorter labor, while mothers who have already given birth experienced a 39 reduction reduction in the average labor length, compared to controls (Fallon, 1991). Chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy can also reduce the likelihood of experiencing back labor (Diakow, 1991). Regular chiropractic adjustments can safely continue up until the time of birth (Penna, 1989).
“As your baby descends into your pelvic cavity, you may feel sharp, stabbing pains at the base of your spine or in the middle of your pelvic bone, making uncomfortable twinges of pins and needles in the cervix itself. Pain may radiate down your back or thighs. The increased pelvic pains are likely due to the relaxation and stretching of your pelvic ligaments in preparation for labor. You can ease these discomforts by changing positions. Exercise gently every day. If you cannot exercise without pain, consult your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend a chiropractor experienced in working on pregnant bodies, who may be able to give you some gentle pelvic adjustments to get your hips back in balance. It is our personal theory that chiropractic care in pregnancy can help to avoid or relieve back pain and also prepare your back and pelvic structures the stresses of labor and birth.” (Sears & Sears, 1997)
Pregnancy and Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is health maintenance of the spinal column, discs, related nerves and bone geometry without drugs or surgery. It involves the art and science of adjusting misaligned joints of the body, especially of the spine, which reduces spinal nerve stress and therefore promotes health throughout the body.
Is chiropractic care safe during pregnancy?
There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. All chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant. Investing in the fertility and pregnancy wellness of women who are pregnant or trying to conceive is a routine care for most chiropractors.
Some chiropractors take a specific interest in prenatal and postnatal care and seek additional training. Below represents designations of chiropractors who have taken advanced steps in working with infertility and pregnancy wellness.
- DACCP – Diplomate with ICPA reflecting highest level of advanced training
- CACCP – Certified with the ICPA reflecting advanced training
- Member of ICPA reflecting special interest
- Webster Certified – trained to work specifically with pelvic balance in pregnancy
- Find a Chiropractor in your area
Chiropractors that have been trained to work with pregnant women may use tables that adjust for a pregnant woman’s body, and they will use techniques that avoid unneeded pressure on the abdomen.
A chiropractor who is trained in the needs of women who are pregnant will also provide you with exercises and stretches that are safe to use during pregnancy.
Why should I have chiropractic care during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, there are several physiological and endocrinological changes that occur in preparation for creating the environment for the developing baby. The following changes could result in a misaligned spine or joints:
- Protruding abdomen and increased back curve
- Pelvic changes
- Postural adaptations
Establishing pelvic balance and alignment is another reason to obtain chiropractic care during pregnancy. When the pelvis is misaligned it may reduce the amount of room available for the developing baby. This restriction is called intrauterine constraint. A misaligned pelvis may also make it difficult for the baby to get into the best possible position for delivery. This can affect the mother’s ability to have a natural, non-invasive birth. Breech and posterior positions can interfere with the natural ease of labor and lead to interventions such as c-sections.
The nervous system is the master communication system to all the body systems including the reproductive system. Keeping the spine aligned helps the entire body work more effectively.
What are the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy?
Chiropractic care during pregnancy can provide benefits for women who are pregnant. Potential benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy include:
- Maintaining a healthier pregnancy
- Controlling symptoms of nausea
- Reducing the time of labor and delivery
- Relieving back, neck or joint pain
- Prevent a potential cesarean delivery
What about chiropractic care and breech deliveries?
The late Larry Webster, D.C., Founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association(ICPA), developed a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment which enables chiropractors to establish balance in the pregnant woman’s pelvis and reduce undue stress to her uterus and supporting ligaments. This balanced state in the pelvis has been clinically shown to allow for optimal fetal positioning. The technique is known as the Webster Technique.
It is considered normal by some for a baby to present breech until the third trimester. Most birth practitioners are not concerned with breech presentations until a patient is 37 weeks along. Approximately 4% of all pregnancies result in a breech presentation.
The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported in the July/August 2002 issue an 82% success rate of babies turning vertex when doctors of chiropractic used the Webster Technique. Further, the results from the study suggest that it may be beneficial to perform the Webster Technique as soon as the 8th month of pregnancy when a woman has a breech presentation.
Currently, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) recommends that women receive chiropractic care throughout pregnancy to establish pelvic balance and optimize the room a baby has for development throughout pregnancy. With a balanced pelvis, babies have a greater chance of moving into the correct position for birth, and the crisis and worry associated with breech and posterior presentations may be avoided altogether. Optimal baby positioning at the time of birth also eliminates the potential for dystocia (difficult labor) and therefore results in easier and safer deliveries for both the mother and baby.
Talk to Your Health Care Provider:
As more women are seeking the benefits of chiropractic care throughout pregnancy, more health care providers are seeking trained doctors of chiropractic in their communities to refer their pregnant patients to. Discuss these options with your health care provider. If they are not yet familiar with chiropractic care in pregnancy, ask them to find out more about its many benefits. Most importantly, seek options that support your body’s natural abilities to function and find a team of providers who are respectful of your choices.
A native of New Jersey, Dr. Howard decided to become a chiropractor at the age of 15, when she experienced a complete metamorphosis in her health after seeking chiropractic care for an injury. She completed her undergraduate work at Pepperdine University in California, and her doctorate at Life Chiropractic College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1991. She has done extensive postgraduate work in the fields of peri-natal and pediatric chiropractic care. In addition to caring for those populations and her community at large, she loves lecturing on living a healthy life in a toxic world. Chiropractic has helped her to stay fit and healthy enough to become a triathlete and half-marathoner at the age of 40! Dr. Howard lives in Annapolis with her husband Braden, their two daughters Francesca and Julia, and Golden Retrievers Zach and Finn. You can find her and her fantastic team at Broadneck Family Chiropractic.