Chiropractic and pregnancy is more than adjusting your equipment to the expectant mother, it’s getting the right equipment
Mary Helen Bowers, famous New York City ballet dancer and founder of Ballet Beautiful, is credited with once saying that she “found the entire process of being pregnant to be such a miraculous, beautiful time.”
While many women would agree with this statement, for some, pregnancy also comes with a few challenges, many of which are musculoskeletal in nature.
Musculoskeletal issues related to pregnancy
The American Pregnancy Association (APA) shares that, during pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a variety of structural changes that can cause misalignment in her spine or joints. Among these changes are increased back curve, pelvic imbalance or misalignment, and changes in posture.
The APA says these types of issues can potentially impact both the mother and unborn child. For instance, if the pelvis is misaligned, there may not be enough room for the fetus to grow, resulting in a condition called intrauterine constraint. Pelvis misalignment can also impact the baby’s position during delivery, making it more difficult for the expectant mother to have a natural childbirth while also increasing the risk of a breech birth and/or the need for a c-section.
Another common result of these misalignments is back pain as one retrospective study found that 42.5% of the women interviewed reported experiencing back pain during pregnancy and 44.7% had back pain during delivery.
Fortunately, chiropractic can help with these types of issues, and research confirms it.
Chiropractic and pregnancy back pain
As an example, in a 2016 case study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, a 35-year-old woman who was 32 weeks pregnant was experiencing lumbopelvic pain with moderate to severe intensity, making it difficult for her to both stand and sit. Yet, after six weeks of chiropractic care (13 visits in total) combined with soft tissue therapy, exercise, and ergonomic advice, the woman reported that her low-back pain went from a seven to a two on a pain scale of 1 to 10. This made it easier for her to walk and sit, as well as making it more comfortable for her to travel by car.
A retrospective case series published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health found similar results. After reviewing 17 cases involving pregnant women with back pain, the author revealed that, by the end of their chiropractic and pregnancy care protocol, the average pain score dropped from a 5.9 to a 1.5, with 16 of the cases showing “clinically important improvement.”
This case series further noted that the average patient experienced this level of relief within 4.5 days, and no adverse side effects were noted in any of the cases. Therefore, the author concluded that “chiropractic treatment was safe in these cases.”
The Webster Technique
Certain chiropractic techniques have proven helpful in reducing some of the issues faced by pregnant patients.
For instance, a survey of U.S. and Canadian members of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association found that 92% of the chiropractic professionals found success in using the Webster Technique during the eighth month of pregnancy to resolve breech presentation due to intrauterine constraint caused by musculoskeletal issues.
The Webster Technique involves the pregnant mother lying face down on a drop table with a pillow placed under her hips to reduce the pressure on her growing belly. The DC then checks for musculoskeletal imbalances that could potentially be causing intrauterine constraint. If these imbalances are located, a drop table is used to realign that region.
This technique also involves the patient lying on her back, putting her in the proper position to have pressure placed on the round ligament — the ligament that connects the front of the womb to the groin — with one hand while also placing the other hand on the upper belly (where the baby’s head would be in a breech situation) until the “knot” in the round ligament goes away, compelling the baby to turn.
Choosing the right chiropractic table for pregnant patients
Because the Webster Technique requires using a drop to gently nudge the expecting mother’s pelvic region into a position that helps her baby enter this world without complications, having this type of table at your practice is important to helping pregnant patients dealing with musculoskeletal issues that could impact the birthing process.
A hi-lo treatment table is also beneficial in these cases as they allow the mother-to-be to change positions more easily in her eighth month of pregnancy. Finally, having pillows, wedges, or similar devices on hand are also helpful for properly positioning the pregnant patient, enabling a more effective (and comfortable) adjustment.