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Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy for Safer, Easier Births

Written by Jeanne Ohm, D.C.   
Wednesday, 26 June 2002 11:37

Chiropractic care is essential for the pregnant mother. Her systems and organs are now providing for two and their optimal function is critical for the a healthy pregnancy and birth. The mother's spine and pelvis undergoes many changes and adaptations to compensate for the growing baby and the risk of interference to her nervous system is increased. Specific chiropractic care throughout pregnancy works with enhancing nervous system function which in turn affects many systems of the body. 

Another important reason for care throughout pregnancy is to help establish balance in the mother's pelvis. Because of a lifetime of stress and trauma to her spine and pelvis, her pelvic opening may be compromised. Williams Obstetrics Text tells us that, "Any contraction of the pelvic diameters that diminish the capacity of the pelvis can create dystocia (difficulty) during labor." They further state that the diameter of the woman's pelvis is decreased when the sacrum is displaced. Dr. Abraham Towbin, medical researcher on birth tells us that the bony pelvis may become "deformed" this way by trauma. Chiropractors define this displacement/ deformation as spinal misalignment or subluxation primarily caused by the stress of trauma.

Additionally, these compensations to her spine and pelvis during pregnancy are likely to cause an imbalance to her pelvic muscles and ligaments. The woman's pelvis supports her growing uterus with specific ligaments. If the bones of the pelvis are out of alignment or subluxated, this will directly affect the way the uterus will be supported. Unequal ligament support of the uterus may create undue tension in the uterus and subsequently compromise the optimal room for baby development. 

In some cases, this decreased room restricts the baby's positions during pregnancy adversely affecting his/her developing spine and cranium. Additionally, these limitations on the baby's movement during pregnancy may prevent him/her from getting into the best possible position for birth. Any birth position other than the ideal vertex, occiput anterior position of the baby may create a more difficult labor and delivery leading to longer more painful labors with increased medical interventions in birth. Often c-sections are resorted to and both the mother and baby miss the many benefits of a natural vaginal birth.

The Webster Technique, discovered by Dr. Larry Webster, founder of the ICPA, is a specific chiropractic adjustment to correct sacral subluxation. Used most often on pregnant women, this adjustment balances muscles and ligaments in the woman's pelvis, and may remove undue tension to the uterus. Since this tension in the uterus may affect baby positioning, it is hypothesized that this adjustment may contribute to optimal positioning, a must for a safer and easier delivery. The ICPA is collecting clinical data from doctors who use this adjustment for pelvic balance. Preliminary results are showing a relationship between pelvic balance achieved by this adjustment and restoration of optimal baby positioning. More research is underway. In the meantime, mothers are seeking Doctors of Chiropractic trained in this adjustment because of the many benefits chiropractic care offers in pregnancy. 

Growing awareness of this technique by pregnant mothers and birth care providers is demonstrating the increased demand for trained Doctors. Daily, the ICPA receives many requests for referrals and we send them to our provider directory. 

We greatly appreciate your vision and commitment in offering pregnant women in your community the best possible care available. Together we are providing significant contributions to the important goal of safer, easier deliveries. 

References:

  1. Cunningham FG et al, "Dystocia Due to Pelvic Contraction", Williams Obstetrics, Nineteenth Ed 1989

  2. Towbin A, "Dystocia", Brain Damage in the Newborn and its Neurologic Sequelle, 1998

  3. Netter F. "Pelvic Viscera and Perineum" Atlas of Human Anatomy ; 1994

  4. Hellstrom B, Sallmander  U "Prevention of Spinal Cord Injury in Hyperextension of the Fetal Head" JAMA 1968; 204(12): 1041-4