Pregnancy is generally a time of excitement and anticipation. However, there are times when it’s also a time of discomfort and pain. During gestation, the mother’s center of mass shifts forward as the baby grows. While this allows more room for continued development, it also increases the natural curve of the woman’s spine. This increased lumbar lordosis often results in low back and/or pelvic girdle pain.
In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada, as many as 76% or more of pregnant women report experiencing pregnancy-related back pain. It is common for the woman to want to avoid taking pain relievers, even over the counter medications, due to the possible effects they could have on their unborn child. Chiropractic care offers pregnant women a safe and effective non-pharmaceutical option to treating pain.
Safe for Mom and Baby
Before undergoing any type of treatment or taking any medication, a pregnant woman’s first question will be “Is it safe for my baby?” A study was presented at the 2019 Association Of Chiropractic Colleges – Research Agenda Conference, titled “Fetal Heart Rate Testing Of Pregnant Women Under Concurrent Chiropractic And Midwifery Care.” According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), it is important to monitor the fetus throughout pregnancy to detect any potential complications, and one of the more widely used methods of monitoring is electronic fetal heart rate monitoring or testing.
The aforementioned study involved a retrospective analysis of patient files focused on pregnant women who had fetal heart rate monitoring and were under chiropractic care during pregnancy. All of the fetal heart rate findings were in the normal ranges for gestational age, reflecting that chiropractic care had not resulted in any complications evidenced by heart rate.
What if the baby is breech?
While babies have a tendency to move around in the womb, as many moms can attest, they generally settle down towards the end of the pregnancy and get into the head down position for birth. However, some babies (approx. 4% of all pregnancies according to the American Pregnancy Association) remain bottom down, known as the breech position. Due to the potential complications of a vaginal birth in these instances, this results in an increased risk of caesarean section birth.
The late Larry Webster, DC developed a chiropractic technique to balance the mother’s pelvis and reduce stress on the uterus and supporting ligaments. A survey of over 1000 chiropractors in the US and Canada who utilize the “Webster technique” was conducted in 2002. It revealed an astounding 82% success rate. In contrast, a recent study involving the External Cephalic Version technique often used in obstetrics, reported a success rate just under 65%.
Natural Health Care
Due to research such as this showing the natural health care benefits of chiropractic, the APA includes a page on their website dedicated to educating women about Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy. They advocate women “seek options that support your body’s natural abilities to function,” which is a prime description of chiropractic care. Further, as the APA points out, all chiropractors are trained to provide care for pregnant women. They are taught techniques that accommodate the physical changes in a woman’s body, and help their body move and function properly to promote good health for both mom and baby. Some chiropractors have focused their practice in this area and may have special certifications related to prenatal and postnatal care.
Once a woman knows a treatment is safe, the next question is often regarding efficacy. Not only is chiropractic safe for the developing baby, and potentially helpful in getting the baby into correct birthing position, it is also a valuable treatment for pain during and after pregnancy. By using gentle, manual techniques, the chiropractor can locate and correct the source of misalignment and strain to provide relief.
A 2014 study reported just over half (52%) of the pregnant patients surveyed experienced an improvement in pain in just 1 week. After a month of care, that number had reached 70%. The study reported “significant reductions” in the women’s pain scale ratings as well as their secondary measures. Researchers concluded: “Most pregnant patients undergoing chiropractic treatment reported clinically relevant improvement at all time points.”
If you or someone you know is expecting, consider chiropractic. Talk to your chiropractor about how this gentle therapy can relieve the discomfort and pain you may experience during pregnancy, without the risks associated with over-the-counter drugs or pharmaceuticals. Additionally, your chiropractor can offer stretches and exercises to help prevent discomfort.
Pregnancy is a joyous and exciting time in a woman’s life. Supported by chiropractic care, you can weather the changes your body will experience, naturally. If you don’t already have a chiropractor, you can find a TCA member doctor near you at www.tnchiro.com/find-a-doctor.
Weis CA, Barrett J, Tavares P, Draper C, Ngo K, Leung J, Huynh T, Landsman V. “Prevalence of Low Back Pain, Pelvic Girdle Pain, and Combination Pain in a Pregnant Ontario Population”. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2018 Aug;40(8):1038-1043. doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2017.10.032.
Union A, Edwards J, Alcantara J. “Fetal heart rate testing of pregnant women under concurrent chiropractic and midwifery care”. 2019 Association of Chiropractic Colleges – Research Agenda Conference presentation: Baltimore, MD. Mar 14-16, 2019.
“Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy,” American Pregnancy Association. Last updated November 8, 2017. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/chiropractic-care-during-pregnancy/
Pistolese RA. “The Webster Technique: a chiropractic technique with obstetric implications”. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2002 Jul-Aug;25(6):E1-9.
Isakov O, Reicher L, Lavie A, Yogev Y, Maslovitz S. “Prediction of Success in External Cephalic Version for Breech Presentation at Term.” Obstet Gynecol. 2019 May;133(5):857-866. doi: 10.1097.
Peterson CK, Mühlemann D, Humphreys BK. “Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, medium term and 1 year follow-up.” Chiropr Man Therap. 2014 Apr 1;22(1):15. doi: 10.1186/2045-709X-22-15.
This article is being shared as part of TCA’s “Realign Your Thinking” public-awareness campaign – helping Tennesseans understand what chiropractic care offers and the positive role it plays in the overall health care system.