Pregnancy is a wondrous time of life. A woman’s body undergoes many changes. In addition to the increasing belly size, however, muscles and ligaments have hormonal influences that help to prepare the body for birth. This means that as a woman has more weight to carry over the months of pregnancy, the body is actually less structurally supportive in some ways—and chiropractic care can help a woman maintain alignment as her body changes. Chiropractors have to ensure that they do not put excessive pressure on the abdomen of their pregnant clients. They often use tables to assist in their adjustments. Pregnant women may find that they need to come in for adjustments because their backs are more curved due to compensating for their increased abdominal size. The posture changes, as does the pelvis.
Chiropractic Care to Manage Pregnancy Discomfort
Chiropractors can help the pregnant client with some of the typical pregnancy complaints, such as nausea, back pain, and joint pain. Some of these issues could be caused by misalignment, poor nutrition, or inactivity and may be cured by adjustments, dietary changes, and recommended exercises. Some chiropractors are certified in the field of nutrition, but any advice given by the doctor can be considered. As a result of the adjustments, the birth process may also be eased, reducing the risk of C-section or even a prolonged and painful delivery. Chiropractors can be a necessary part of the care team assisting the mother-to-be in her healthy pregnancy and birth.1 One condition that could cause complication of the pregnancy could be high blood pressure. The narrowed blood vessels decrease blood flow to the placenta. This blood is meant to help provide nutrients and oxygen to the fetus. People who already have high blood pressure prior to pregnancy need to monitor and control the condition over the course of their pregnancy, both for their own sake and for their child.2 While medication is one way to manage the blood pressure, there is a more natural, chiropractic alternative. The adjustment of the C-1, or Atlas, vertebrae has been shown to reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension. It would appear that injury or misalignment in these vertebrae affects the flow of blood in arteries at the base of the skull, causing them to contract. Patients who have received chiropractic adjustments report lowered blood pressure and some even do not need to take their medication anymore.3 This is one added bonus of seeking chiropractic care during pregnancy.
Chiropractic Care to Help Childbirth
Not only is chiropractic care beneficial for the pregnant client’s comfort, but it can also assist in making the birth process easier. A properly aligned pelvis can make for a larger area for the baby to pass through (instead of intrauterine constraint, caused by misalignment). It also helps the baby align into a proper position for birth. If the baby is improperly aligned, the duration of labor and risk for other complications is increased. This may also reduce the risk of breech births or C-sections. In fact, there is a method, the “Webster Technique”, created by the ICPA founder, the late Larry Webster, D.C., which “is a chiropractic technique designed to relieve the musculoskeletal causes of intrauterine constraint”. This is not to change the position of the fetus, which would be an obstetric technique; instead, it helps to create a balanced pelvis. The Webster Technique was found to have an 82% success rate in a 2002 study.4 Additionally, post-partum chiropractic care will help the body’s healing process and allow the new mother to regain and maintain her strength. The bodily changes that occur during pregnancy might have been made less negative due to chiropractic care, but continuation of treatment and compliance with at-home recommendations made by the chiropractor makes a difference. Newborns can also safely receive chiropractic adjustments just days out of the womb.
Finding the Right Chiropractor
According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are some chiropractors who specialize in pregnant clients, from prenatal to postnatal care. The certifications include the following: “DACCP – Diplomate with ICPA reflecting highest level of advanced training, CACCP – Certified with the ICPA reflecting advanced training, Member of ICPA reflecting special interest, and Webster Certified – trained to work specifically with pelvic balance in pregnancy”.5 The ICPA refers to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association whose “curriculum offers techniques and protocols of care for children and pregnant women”.6 It is important to try different styles of chiropractic care to find the best doctor for long-term care and benefits.
Bottom Line Recommendation
With an average weight gain of 25-35 pounds, sciatic complaints, lower back pain, loosening ligaments, and physical stress that pregnancy causes, the American Chiropractic Association suggests that chiropractic care can be beneficial for women during pregnancy and after childbirth.7