Moms report positive labor and delivery experiences with massage therapy and chiropractic.
Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy are responsible for a number of emotional and physical changes, including mood and eating habits, according to Eric L. Mitz, DC, LAc, DAAPM, in Evansville, Indiana. In addition, he says chemical changes can be an underlying cause for soft tissue dysfunction, which could negatively impact labor and delivery.
Chiropractic during pregnancy
Research reports indicate that women who receive prenatal chiropractic care experience improved outcomes, from pregnancy through delivery.1
For the most part, contraindications for chiropractic are the same for those who are pregnant and those who are not. Mitz does not do spinal manipulation for his pregnant clients, however. “It could cause placental disruptions,” he says. “There are also some contraindications if a woman is having vascular issues, such as hypertension. You have to be careful in this case.”
Expectant mothers who present with problems unrelated to their pregnancy may also benefit from chiropractic. For instance, a patient with chronic headaches may opt for a more natural way to control symptoms. “We have a fair amount of patients with no problems with their abdomen or back, but who no longer want to take medications,” Mitz says.
Pregnancy problems improved
The majority of women with sacroiliac joint asymmetry report both pregnancy-related pain and postpartum complaints.1
Mitz notes that most pregnant women also develop mid- to low-back pain or pelvic pain, as well as pain in the hips and feet. “We pay particular attention to the pelvis and sacroiliac joint,” he says. “There’s an intimate relationship between the pelvic muscles, ligaments, uterus, and sacrum. If they are all working optimally, the woman will have a good delivery.”
Mitz uses the Webster Technique, which was created by Larry Webster, DC, as a safe way to restore proper pelvic balance and function. Based on a theoretical and clinical framework, this technique has also been successful in treating breech presentation, Mitz says.
“Pelvic biomechanics may not allow the baby to rotate in the womb,” he explains. “By changing the neuromechanical environment of the patient’s lower back and pelvis, you give the best opportunity for the baby to turn. [Webster’s] internal case study data shows an 85 to 90 percent success rate.”
Combination therapy for pregnancy
Some women are turning to therapy that combines massage and chiropractic to help prepare the body for childbirth.
Massage therapists work side-by-side with Mitz to address the overall health of their pregnant patients. “Virtually all our patients receive both massage therapy and chiropractic,” he says. “The patient sees the massage therapist in the clinic first for between 30 and 60 minutes before they see me. This helps me make adjustments.”
Chiropractic sessions for an uncomplicated case last approximately ten minutes. “If you add acupuncture or manipulation of soft tissue, it might take twenty or thirty minutes,” Mitz says.
Mitz cites massage as an integral part his practice. “I can’t imagine not having a licensed massage therapist by my side,” he says. “The experiential and clinical outcomes would be inferior if we didn’t work together.”
Interest in chiropractic during pregnancy
Mitz reports that the skepticism with which some medical practitioners viewed chiropractic is starting to change. “Most of our referrals come from obstetricians, midwives and doulas,” he says.
In helping women find increased comfort during pregnancy and delivery, the chiropractic-massage therapy combination can offer a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
As more people experience the benefits of this powerful, natural treatment firsthand, the professions have an opportunity to move from the periphery of prenatal care to a mainstream position.
1 Borggren CL. Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. J Chiropr Med. 2007;6(2):70–74.