Can Chiropractic Care Help Pregnancy and Labor?

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By: Dr. Kandyce Mutter, BScKin, DC

ICPA Webster Certified

There’s no question that a woman goes through tremendous changes during the nine months of pregnancy.

The most obvious physical changes that are likely to affect the spine will begin to occur during the second trimester. As the uterus grows to accommodate the fetus, the lumbar curve of the spine will increase to account for the stomach protruding further forward.

The pelvis will also start to shift position as the normally tough pelvic ligaments soften in preparation for eventual delivery. In order to counterbalance for the abdomen protruding forward, many pregnant women end up leaning somewhat backward as they stand or walk. This can then place pressure on the pelvis, the sacroiliac joint and the ligaments, causing additional pain.

In fact, recent studies show that nearly 76% of women experience back pain during some portion of their pregnancy.

All of these changes are not isolated to the back and pelvis, but will also affect the knees, ankles and feet.  These shifts in the normal position of the back can also affect posture, which may lead to sciatica and edema (water retention in the ankles and knees).  This is due to the shifts in posture and the hormonal changes which occur as the weight gain continues.

Why Chiropractic care?

Chiropractic care benefits all aspects of the body’s ability to be healthy.  When segments in the spine and pelvis are misaligned, imbalance is created in the surrounding muscles and ligaments which can result in tension and nerve system stress.  This can affect the body’s ability to function optimally.

Doctors of Chiropractic are specially trained to work with the pregnant mother by performing chiropractic adjustments, a gentle and effective means of restoring proper pelvic balance and function.

The most obvious targets for chiropractic adjustments will be the lumbar spine and the sacroiliac joint, in order to shift the vertebrae back into alignment.  This will provide more comfort in the joints as well as to help relieve low back pain. Adjustments to these joints may also relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve and help patients sleep more soundly at night.

When working with pregnant women, the chiropractor will position the patient in a supportive and comfortable manner, with pillows and props, as the gentle adjustments are being performed.

How does Chiropractic care help with labor?

Women who have undergone chiropractic adjustments during their pregnancy report that their labors are easier and less stressful on their bodies. ­

– A study revealed that first time mothers under chiropractic care had 24% shorter labor times versus women who were not. Without chiropractic care, the first time mom labored approximately 14 hours and with chiropractic care labor was averaged at 8­-9 hours. ­

– Chiropractic patients who have had previous children enjoyed 39% shorter labor times. For moms having their second or more baby, they labored approximately 9-­10 hours and with chiropractic care during pregnancy, this was reduced to approximately 4­-5 hours of labor. ­

– Chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy can also reduce the likelihood of experiencing back labor. This is usually caused by position of the fetus with the baby’s back of their skull pressed against the sacrum instead of against the front of the pelvis. ­

Why is this?  

Any baby position even slightly off during birth can slow down labor, adding more pain to the mother. Many women have also been told that their babies were too big, or labor “just slowed down” when it was really the baby’s presentation interfering with the normal process and progression.

This is why it is recommended that a woman consult with a chiropractor shortly after she discovers she is pregnant.  That way, a comprehensive plan can be created to manage subluxations throughout the pregnancy which will support optimal birth outcomes.

Chiropractic care is being sought out by more and more mothers as it has been proven effective in creating a more comfortable pregnancy while optimizing overall health.

Stay Tuned!

Be sure to watch Liz Akincilar and Kandyce Mutter as they discuss the benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy and chiropractic care for people suffering from pelvic floor disorders. Tune in next week to PHRC’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and Instagram TV to see the interview!  

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