Is chiropractic care during pregnancy safe? Absolutely! To date, there aren’t any known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. In fact, all chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant. Some chiropractors even take it a step farther and work exclusively in prenatal and postnatal care, which requires additional training. Chiropractors who have been properly trained to work with pregnant women may use specialized tables that adjust for a pregnant woman’s body, and will use techniques that avoid unwarranted pressure on the abdomen.
During pregnancy, there are several physiological and hormonal changes that occur in preparation for the proper development of the fetus. Specifically, released throughout the body is a hormone called relaxin. As the name suggests, it produces a relaxing effect on the ligaments associated with the musculoskeletal system, particularly the pelvis, to accommodate lengthening of the cervix. Unfortunately, this can result in joint restrictions and musculoskeletal imbalances, such as increased back curvature, postural adaptations, sciatica, and low back/pelvic discomfort, as higher levels of relaxin reduce structural stability.
When the pelvis becomes shifted/restricted, in addition to causing any pain/discomfort, it may reduce the amount of room available for the developing baby. This restriction is called intrauterine constraint. Moreover, it may also make it difficult for the baby to attain the best possible position for delivery, possibly resulting in what’s called a “Breech.” Breech and posterior positions can interfere with the natural ease of labor, often leading to interventions such as C-sections.
It’s considered normal, depending on whom you ask, for a baby to present breech until the third trimester. Most birth practitioners aren’t concerned with breech presentations until a patient is approximately 37 weeks along.
How can chiropractic help?
Through proper chiropractic examination and treatment, chiropractors can re-establish balance/proper movement throughout the pelvis, reducing undue stress on the uterus and supporting ligaments. This balanced state in the pelvis has been clinically shown to allow for optimal fetal positioning.
According to the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, an 82% success rate was reported of babies turning head first (vertex) when chiropractic care is utilized. Furthermore, the results from the study suggested that it might be beneficial to receive care as soon as the eighth month of pregnancy when a woman has a breech presentation. Currently, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) recommends women receive chiropractic care throughout pregnancy to establish pelvic balance and optimize the room a baby has for development throughout pregnancy.
With a balanced pelvis, babies have a greater chance of moving into the correct position for birth, and the crisis, as well as anxiety associated with breech/posterior presentations, may be avoided altogether. Optimal baby positioning at the time of birth also eliminates the potential for dystocia (difficult labor), resulting in easier/safer deliveries for both the mother and baby.
As more women are seeking the benefits of chiropractic care throughout their pregnancy, more health care providers are seeking trained doctors of chiropractic in their communities to refer to with confidence that they’re making the right choice. Discuss these options with your health care provider. If they’re unfamiliar with chiropractic care and pregnancy, ask them to find out more about its numerous benefits. Most important, seek options that support your body’s natural abilities to function and find a team of providers who are mindful of your choices/preferences.
Michael “Dr. Mike” Roney, D.C., is a musculoskeletal specialist who recently joined Pawling Family Chiropractic, located in the Atrium on Route 22. He can be reached at (845) 855-1475, FellaWellness.com online, or by email at DrMike@FellaWellness.com.