Although I never sought chiropractic care during pregnancy, I have come across many pregnant women who have asked about whether seeing a chiropractor could help them through their journey.
**Disclaimer** Information in this post is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your physician to discuss your options and find out what care is best for you.
Maegan Istok D.C., is a practicing chiropractor at Palmer Family Chiropratic in Milford. She sees everyone from infants and pregnant mothers to people into their 90s. Here she offers answers to some frequently asked questions about chiropractic care during pregnancy.
Why would a pregnant woman seek out chiropractic care?
First off let me explain about the basis of what Chiropractors do and why it is important. It is somewhat of a misconception that Chiropractors only deal with neck and back pain. The truth is we are more so nerve doctors than bone doctors. Our goal is to ensure that the brain is in complete control of the entire body as well as all of its processes without any interruption in the communication of those messages. The way we do this is by adjusting the spine, pelvis and cranium, removing any subluxations ( mis-alignments) which may detract from the electrical signal from the brain traveling along the nerves to their final destinations i.e. organs, muscles, tissues etc. This is very important in a pregnant mother and a developing baby. If the mother has subluxations in her spine and her organs and bodily systems are not functioning at 100% chances are the mother and baby could suffer the consequences of that.
What type of consequences?
Consequences may take many forms: high blood pressure, gastric reflux, constipation, back pain, difficult labor (dystocia) etc. Everything in our body is controlled by our brain, so anything in our bodies could be affected to some degree. In our bodies, we have nerves that we can feel and many more nerves that we cannot feel. Just because we don’t have pain does not necessarily mean there are no issues, they may not have gotten significant enough for us to notice them and take action yet. It would make sense that with a pregnant patient there is constant feedback from the body to the brain so the brain can give signals for hormones to be made. Take the process of birth for example, the brain gives signals to release oxytocin to induce contractions, the brain then gets signals as to how everything is working. Isn’t it logical that if the brain is not being given all the correct information it will not be able to effectively govern the hormone release and thus a longer and more difficult labor could ensue.
Can chiropractors correct babies that have not yet turned close to the due date?
One big reason for cesarean sections and medical intervention in the United States is breech babies. There are ligaments attaching the uterus to the pelvis, when the pelvis is mis-aligned the ligaments get strained and thus the uterus is torqued. With torsion in the uterus the baby is typically not comfortable in the head- down position. In Chiropractic we have a specific technique aimed to re-align the pelvis and thus enable the baby to find a more comfortable position. The Webster technique is a specific chiropractic analysis and diversified adjustment. The goal of the adjustment is to reduce the effects of sacral subluxation/ SI joint dysfunction. In so doing neuro-biomechanical function in the pelvis is improved.- according to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association
What about labor pains?
It has been shown that getting regular adjustments throughout pregnancy help pregnant women avoid dystocia (difficult labor), and have a shorter and easier labor. Not to mention the alignment of the pelvis and lumbar spine has been shown to decrease the low back pain which commonly occurs throughout pregnancy and after delivery without the use of drugs or injections.
What are the risks of undergoing the Webster technique?
There are minimal to no risks with doing the Webster technique. The technique is for balancing the pelvis and restoring proper nerve flow to the muscles of the pelvis the uterus and the lower body. The body will do with this input what it will. The beneficial side-effects to balancing the pelvis and taking out the torsion in the uterus is that the baby may turn head- down now that he/she is in a more comfortable position suitable for vaginal birth. Some of the less desirable effects could be that there may be some discomfort with the adjustment because muscle spasms tend to form in areas of subluxated joints. The body has compensated to these mis-alignments and getting these taken care of may cause some mild tenderness. The other discomfort that may occur could be the baby shifting in the uterus, but that should not cause any more discomfort than the mother has experienced with previous movement of the child. All of this is strictly voluntary. If the pelvis is properly aligned but there is something prohibiting the baby from going head down, it won't. We are in no way doing anything to the baby -- only aligning the pelvis and then whatever happens after that is up to the mother and baby’s bodies.
What should women keep in mind when choosing a chiropractor?
When choosing a Chiropractor it is helpful to choose one who is certified in the Webster Technique/ Pediatrics. A great website to refer to in order to find a qualified Doctor of Chiropractic in your area is www.icpa4kids.org. This is also a great source for references and research regarding the vast variety of topics chiropractic can help with through pregnancy as well as while you’re child grows and develops outside the womb.
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