Some women choose to give birth at home, and chiropractic care can be a part of making a comfortable pregnancy and homebirth delivery.
What is Homebirth?
Homebirth means that childbirth is done in a residential setting, and it can be attended by a professional (i.e., midwife) or unattended. Natural childbirth is the typical homebirth method used. Sometimes obstetricians and nurses perform homebirths. Doulas (non-medical birth companions) may also attend. Until modern medicine, homebirth was the only option, but there are still many families today who choose homebirth regardless of medical options. While a prior Cesarean delivery can increase risks, homebirth has been found, in studies, to be as safe as hospital birth. When a professional care provider does not attend the birth, the homebirth is referred to as “unassisted”, or “freebirth”. Women who choose homebirth may be doing so for the familiar surroundings, a dislike or distrust of the medical environment, a desire to avoid exposing the infant to hospital germs, and because homebirth is believed to be “more natural and less stressful”. The delivering mother may not wish to have potentially unneeded medical interventions (i.e., forceps, medications, episiotomy), which can be more common in hospital childbirths. Often, a prior negative hospital experience is cited as a reason for choosing homebirth, while many others prefer the control and comfort of a home environment. In terms of satisfaction, one study found that mothers “experience pain…less negatively, in a home setting”.1
Assisted homebirth is another option. Some states require the professional to be a doctor or nurse, but midwives are legal in several states as registered (or “lay”) midwives (RMs), certified midwives (CMs), certified professional midwives (CPMs), or certified nurse-midwives (CNMs). Midwives provide childbirth assistance, and many can perform a range of women’s pre-natal and post-natal healthcare services. Some even perform annual gynecological exams, treat for STDs, and give menopause care.2 Midwives who are trained, registered, or certified often have oxygen on hand, to help if there is problem during homebirth. Many can also engage in other emergency interventions, such as using oxytocin, medications, and providing resuscitation, if necessary. Midwives often have relationships with doctors, should an emergency intervention occur during pregnancy or childbirth. Each state and country has different laws regarding homebirth legality and midwife training and certification standards.3
Midwives, other obstetric professionals, and expectant mothers may recommend chiropractic care during the pregnancy, in order to make the pregnancy and birth experience more comfortable. Because pregnancy puts strain on the muscles and joints (due to the excess weight and hormonal causes of musculoskeletal relaxation), chiropractors can be partners in keeping the pelvis aligned. Some chiropractors may use Kinesio Taping to assist pregnant women. The latex-free, waterproof taping can provide relief from the pain in the muscles and joints.4 Chiropractors can also perform safe, gentle adjustments to treat pregnancy-related discomforts such as carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, back pain, and reflux. Post-partum, chiropractors can treat the mother and infant. For breech pregnancies, chiropractors might use the Webster Technique to “align the sacrum and loosen…torsion…in the attaching ligaments”. After this technique, the uterus can expand more optimally, giving the babies “more room to move” so that they might reposition.5
Learn more about how chiropractic can be used in pregnancy.