- Improved comfort and reduced pain
- Improved sleep
- Shorter labor and safer delivery
- Reduced risk of a breech presentation
- Improved ability to exercise
As all mothers know, the physical toll of pregnancy can be more than just mild discomfort. The average weight gain of 25 to 40 pounds, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the baby, may result in severe discomfort. Studies have found that about 50% of all expectant mothers will develop low-back pain at some point during their pregnancies.1-3 Often this becomes more apparent during late pregnancy, when the baby places pressure on a woman's back, legs, and buttocks, causing her sciatic nerves to become irritated. And for those who already have problems in their spine, the problems can become even worse.
As the pregnancy progresses, a woman's center of gravity begins to shift forward more and more. As the baby grows in size, the woman's weight is projected even farther forward, and the curvature of her lower back is increased, placing extra stress on the spinal discs. To complicate things, the normal curvature of the upper spine (between the neck and shoulder blades) increases as well. This leads to extra stress in the neck and upper back areas as well. (5)
The best strategy a woman can implement is to start seeing a doctor of chiropractic before she becomes pregnant. Your chiropractor can detect any imbalances in the pelvis or elsewhere in your body that could contribute to pregnancy discomfort or possible nerve/musculoskeletal problems.
Many pregnant women have found that chiropractic adjustments provide relief from the increased low-back pain brought on by pregnancy. Chiropractic adjustments are safe for the pregnant woman and her baby and can be especially appealing to those who are want to avoid medications (and the drug exposure to their unborn baby) in treating their back pain.
Doctors of chiropractic can also offer nutrition, ergonomic, and exercise advice to help a woman enjoy a healthy pregnancy.
Chiropractic care can also help after childbirth. In the eight weeks following labor and delivery, the ligaments that loosened during pregnancy begin to tighten up again. This is one of the most important times for a woman to get her spine corrected, so her body can return to its pre-pregnancy state in the proper way. Many women experience ongoing low back pain, neck pain, middle pack pain, or rib pain if the muscles, ligaments, and vertebra don’t return to their ideal position. The post-partum period can be riddled with challenges from lack of sleep to difficult postures and strains from holding the infant. These physical challenges can be alleviated if the spine and neuromusculoskeletal system is cared for properly.
What about chiropractic care for breech presentations?
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.
The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported in the July/August 2002 issue an 82% success rate of babies turning vertex (head down) when doctors of chiropractic used the Webster Technique. Further, the results from the study suggest it may be beneficial to perform the Webster Technique as soon as it is discovered that a woman has a breech presentation.
Currently, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) recommends 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. (4)
- Östgaard HC, et al. Prevalence of Back Pain in Pregnancy. Spine 1991;16:549-52.
- Berg G, et al. Low back pain during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 1988;71:71-5.
- Mantle MJ, et al. Backache in pregnancy. Rheumatology Rehabilitation 1977;16:95-101.
About the Author:
Dr. Devon Coughlin is a family wellness chiropractor in the South Jersey/Greater Philadelphia area. He specializes in preventive health care and is certified through the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association (www.icpa4kids.org) in pediatric, prenatal, and postnatal care. You can connect with him by visiting www.revolutionchiropracticnj.com