The Value of Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy
If you have never ventured into chiropractic care, pregnancy is a good time to consider it.
Guest Blog By Sarah Geo Walton, Birth and Postpartum Doula
Not only does pregnancy open up a whole new world of aches and pains, but due to the hormone Relaxin, the ligaments in your body, especially in the pelvis, loosen and spread in preparation for birth. While this is an important step in the labor process, it can increase your chances of pelvic imbalance which can lead to experiencing uncomfortable things such as lower back pain, sciatica and Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) or as some call it “lightning crotch”.
It has been reported that approximately 50 percent of all pregnant people experience back pain during their pregnancy and 50 to 75 percent of people experience back pain during labor. Reports show that 75 percent of pregnant patients who received chiropractic care during their pregnancies found relief from pain. Findings indicated relief from back pain during the pregnancy in 84 percent of the cases who sought chiropractic care. Chiropractic care may significantly decrease the incidence of “back labor”. The relative risk of experiencing back labor was almost three times greater if back pain was experienced during the pregnancy. (1)
While it is not always something that can be avoided, a misaligned pelvis may also make it more difficult for the baby to get into the best possible position for delivery. A baby who is not in the optimal position can lead to a longer, more uncomfortable labor and can increase the chances of intervention being necessary during pregnancy, labor and delivery.
One study showed that people who sought chiropractic treatment in pregnancy had labors that were 25 percent shorter than those who didn’t if it was their first baby and 31 percent shorter than those who didn’t if they had had a baby before. (2)
Some clinical experience reported by chiropractors and published research shows success in turning breech babies with chiropractic treatments. In an area where very few OBGYN practitioners are trained in delivering breech babies vaginally, this can help avoid cesarean sections.
Long story short, a chiropractor can help re-align your changing body, decreasing painful symptoms and stacking the odds in your favor for a more comfortable pregnancy and birth.
Why Chiropractic Care After Birth is Important
For the Postpartum Mom –
The postpartum woman may face challenges as the body begins to return to pre-pregnancy status.
Depending on how birth unfolded, there is a possibility that the sacrum, hips and pelvis shifted into less than optimal positions causing discomfort and slowing over-all healing.
Breastfeeding can cause strains in the upper back and shoulders; weight starts to shift and those healing from a cesarean or those choosing to bed share may be sleeping in uncomfortable positions.
The postpartum body may greatly benefit from chiropractic care, especially in the first six weeks, as the Relaxin hormone lowers. This is not a time to ignore your own self-care.
The normal birthing process is a potential source of trauma to the newborn baby’s spine, this can be aggravated by a very fast labor, a very long labor, the need for vacuum or forceps assisted delivery or cesarean section. This can affect the baby’s own level of comfort and also how they eat and sleep.
A recent study by Viola Frymann demonstrated that 90 percent of newborns suffered the effects of birth trauma: associated strain through the neck and cranial areas following birth.
A Harvard University pathologist, Dr. Abraham Towbin, found evidence of spinal injury common as a result of the birthing process. He also found evidence of spinal injury in many cases of SIDS and infant respiratory conditions.
What can this this trauma look like in a baby?
- Difficulty nursing (impaired latch/sucking/swallowing or head positioning)
- Reflux/frequent spitting up
- Sleeping difficulty
- Trouble breathing
In a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) in 2009, Miller et al. reported on a clinical case of infants with “sub-optimal infant breast-feeding” at ages 12 weeks and younger. Of the babies in the case series, 78 percent were exclusively breast-fed after four chiropractic treatments.
Baby and in result, the rest of the family, may have a smoother entry into postpartum life with the help of a skilled chiropractic provider.
Is Chiropractic Care Safe for pregnant people and babies?
Many people are hesitant or nervous to see a chiropractor. New things can be scary. The good news is, there are very little contraindications to chiropractic care throughout a healthy, low-risk, normal pregnancy. (3)
We always recommend seeing someone like Dr. Nelson at Northern Nevada Chiropractic who is not just comfortable treating pregnant bodies and babies, but is also trained, certified and excited to do so.
About the Author:
Sarah Geo Walton is a Birth and Postpartum Doula, GentleBirth Childbirth Educator, Placenta Encapsulation Specialist and the owner of Bright Heart Birth Services and co-owner of Biggest Little Baby.
Sarah is experienced in unmedicated, natural home birth, natural hospital birth, hospital birth with epidural, high risk birth, cesarean birth and everything in between. She knows that there is no “right” way to have a baby and that every person and every birth is different. She believes in fully supporting parents in the birth choices that only they know is best for them.
(2) Fallon J.M. Chiropractic and pregnancy: a partnership for the future. ICA Int Rev Chiropr. 1990;46(6):39–42.)