Pregnancy can be always a difficult time for mothers. Soon-to-be mothers must deal with drastic physiological and chemical changes that take place as their bodies prepare for birth. They may find themselves worried over potential complications. All of these factors can add up to an overwhelming experience. But the stresses of pregnancy, and the risks of problems during birth, can be greatly reduced with chiropractic care.
Chiropractic does not use drugs or surgery. Instead, it works with the body as it changes and helps the pregnancy take its natural course. Many chiropractors have received specialized training for prenatal care, and chiropractic has multiple benefits for pregnant women, including relief of pain, controlling nausea, quicker labor, and a lower chance of c-sections. When combined with exercise, a healthy diet, and plenty of sleep, chiropractic can go a long way in helping to encourage a healthy pregnancy.
Chemical changes and the nervous system
Pregnancy results in massive changes to the endocrinological system, which regulates the body’s hormones. Overall hormone levels increase dramatically during pregnancy, upsetting the balance that women are accustomed to. Pregnancy hormones put extra stress on the liver, forcing it to work harder and placing more stress on the body. This can result in common symptoms like morning sickness and acid reflux.
The nervous system may struggle to keep up with the changes. It is also common for physical changes to result in nerves being pinched or blocked, preventing signals from reaching some parts of the body. Chiropractic adjustments are effective for unblocking these signals in all situations but can be especially helpful for pregnant women because pregnancy interferes with the nervous system in so many more ways than normal.
Pelvic imbalance and intrauterine constraint
During pregnancy, the pelvis shifts forward to give the baby plenty of room to grow. This also brings the spine forward and increases the lower back curve. These changes are normal, but they can also be uncomfortable. At least half of pregnant women will experience back pain at some point. They will attempt to compensate by changing the way they sit, stand, walk, and sleep, but this can only do so much. Chiropractic care can provide more lasting relief for back pain.
But there is a more serious problem that can arise during this process – your musculoskeletal system may become misaligned. When this affects the pelvis, it is called pelvic imbalance. Postural adjustments may attempt to compensate for these misalignments, which often makes the problem worse. Misalignments need to be taken seriously because they can in result intrauterine constraint, or a lack of sufficient space for the baby. This is a problem because the body is supposed to create more space for the baby, not less.
Intrauterine constraint limits the baby’s ability to get into the ideal birthing position, which is head-first and head down, also known as the vertex position. Instead, it brings about an increased chance of the baby presenting in a feet-first or breech position. Breech births are associated with a higher risk of birth defects and make it more likely that invasive procedures like cesarean sections will be necessary. Thankfully, there is an effective chiropractic solution to intrauterine constraint.
The Webster technique
In the 1980s, Dr. Larry Webster was present when his daughter had a painful delivery with her baby in the breech position. He began thinking about ways to bring breech babies into the vertex position. Another method, the external cephalic version, was already known. However, this invasive procedure, which attempts to manually turn the baby in the womb, can be painful for the mother and traumatic for the baby. Believing that there could be a less invasive solution to intrauterine constraint, Webster developed what is now known as the Webster technique.
The Webster technique is performed by a chiropractor, usually around the 8th month. To determine whether a pregnant mother has a pelvic imbalance, the chiropractor will have her lie face down on a table or pillow, with a hole cut out in the middle for comfort. The chiropractor lifts the patient’s feet and bends them upward. If they don’t line up, the chiropractor will adjust the misaligned side using the table or an instrument to bring the pelvis back into alignment. The ligaments supporting the uterus may also be massaged and stretched. This process is typically repeated several times over the span of a few weeks to further minimize the risk of breech birth.
What makes the Webster technique special is the doctor does not force the baby but instead makes adjustments in order to create space in the body for the baby to move on their own. A 2002 report showed an 82% success rate for the Webster technique, as opposed to 65% for the external cephalic version. An increasing number of doctors are certified to perform the Webster technique.
Building a holistic plan for a healthy pregnancy
When it comes to chiropractic care for pregnancy, adjustments alone won’t always do the trick. Your chiropractor may provide exercises and stretches that you can do at home to relieve tension and decrease pain. Daily walks are always a good idea, but in pregnancy they have an additional benefit in that they encourage breech babies to move into the vertex position. Finally, a healthy diet is crucial for the health of both the mother and the baby, and proper nutrition can help with conditions like inflammation and joint pain.
Pregnancy can painful and stressful in the best of conditions, but chiropractic care can make a world of difference. It provides relief from everyday problems like back pain and morning sickness, as well as more serious conditions like breech presentation. Treatment becomes more effective with frequency, so pregnant women should see a chiropractor regularly to ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible. Contact us to help you build a plan for you and your baby.