Pregnancy and Chiropractic: Happier Mom, Healthier Baby!
Celeste was expecting. She felt great and welcomed each miraculous change. The baby moved easily into the head-down position. She walked comfortably with a steady confidence throughout her last trimester. The birth went smoothly and as desired. Her midwife commented on the joy of assisting in such a wonderful delivery experience. Her recovery quickly unfolded.
How close is your vision of a “normal” pregnancy and delivery to the above? First of all, IT IS POSSIBLE! With the right game plan, the odds of a “perfect” pregnancy and delivery can be greatly improved. The purpose of this article is to introduce the many, but often little-known, benefits of chiropractic care for the expecting mother and developing fetus.
Chiropractic focuses on detecting and correcting common misalignments and fixations (loss of normal joint movement) in the mother's spine and pelvis that affect the structure and function of her body. The bones in the spinal column house and protect a key component of the nervous system that extends from the brain to the lower back and is known as the spinal cord. At the end of the spinal cord, the remaining nerves (known as the cauda equine or horse’s tail) continue through the lower back and tailbone. If a bone in the pelvis, back or neck loses its normal position and flexibility from the wear and tear of life, it can damage and alter the function of your delicate nervous system and alter the health of the body part being innervated (such as an organ, gland or blood vessel).
Due to the loosening effects of the connective tissue that results from the release of the hormone Relaxin during pregnancy, and the biomechanical changes and demands of the enlarging uterus and forward shifting abdominal weight, expectant mothers are more prone to spinal and pelvic issues. Problems in the back and pelvis may produce many negative consequences that can cause you to have sleepless nights, long before your baby arrives. Due to the dependence of the developing fetus on the health of the mother’s system for support, other potential consequences raise concern.
Please keep reading and learn how chiropractic care can be a welcoming gift to your new family!
Back pain relief during all stages of pregnancy!
Just because 50-80 percent of pregnant women experience back and/or pelvic pain, should it be considered normal?
Most would agree that drugs are not an option while baby is on board. Fortunately for both mother and child, chiropractic offers natural relief! New research from the University of Zurich found that 52 percent of pregnant patients with back or pelvic pain improved at one week with chiropractic care. This number increased to 70 percent at one month and 85 percent at three months. (1)
Pelvic alignment and balance for healthy fetal development
Due to the supportive relationship of the pelvic bones to the uterus, any misalignment may change the shape and tensions of the uterus. The resulting alteration of shape and symmetry (known as intrauterine constraint) hinders the ability of the uterus to grow and expand normally. According to the journal Neurosurgery, intrauterine constraint may cause developmental problems in the bones of the baby's face, skull and body. This includes hip dislocation, facial irregularities and crooked feet. (2) Maintaining proper spinal and pelvic alignment is important throughout all stages of pregnancy and is the central focus of chiropractic prenatal care.
Pelvic alignment and ease of delivery
Imagine the baby’s view of the pelvis. When the mother's bones are in proper alignment, and the muscles and ligaments have normal tone, the opening is optimized and widened for his/her descent. Common during pregnancy are abnormal shifts in the mother's spine, sacrum (tailbone), coccyx (tip of the tailbone) or hipbones that may alter and decrease the opening of the bony passageway. As stated in Williams Obstetrics, "Any contraction of the pelvic diameters that diminish the capacity of the pelvis can create dystocia (a slow or difficult labor or delivery).” The text further explains how the opening of the woman's pelvis is decreased when the tailbone is displaced. (3) Gentle chiropractic adjustments can help realign the spine and pelvic bones allowing the pelvic opening to increase.
The Webster Technique: One of chiropractic's greatest contributions
Chiropractic can utilize the Webster Technique to help a baby move from a breech or transverse position into an optimal position for birth. This technique, discovered by Dr. Larry Webster, founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), carefully addresses specific sacral misalignments and soft tissue tensions that may contribute to a breech or transverse position of the baby. When utilized, it is reported that in nearly 82 percent of cases, the child moves into the normal vertex position, eliminating the need for a Cesarean Section. This is not an obstetric “breech turning” technique, but a chiropractic method that primarily makes a gentle adjustment to the tailbone. (4) Since my studies with Dr. Webster and applying his methods, I have observed similar results over the past 21 years.
Proper spinal and pelvic biomechanics, nerve function, uterine position, flexibility and comfort during pregnancy help with normal fetal development and an easier birth for mother and child. Chiropractic care during each trimester is comfortable, safe and drug-free. Such effective care is welcomed by thousands of women each day. Adding chiropractic care to your game plan can help make your pregnancy and delivery more celestial for you and your new family star!
- Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2014 (Apr 1); 22 (1): 15
- Neurosurgery. 1980 Jan;6(1):39-44.
- Cunningham FG et al, "Dystocia Due to Pelvic Contraction", Williams Obstetrics, Nineteenth Ed 1989
- The Webster Technique: A chiropractic technique with obstetric implications. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Volume 25, Issue 6, July 2002, Pages E1-E9