4 Reasons why you should be seeing a Chiropractor during your Pregnancy

Dr Ros Drake
Written by Dr Ros Drake

Chiropractic is a safe and natural treatment method of restoring normal function to the joints of the body, primarily those of the spine, and correcting any misalignments particularly of the pelvis. This in turn will allow the central nervous system (CNS) to work at its optimal due to the close proximity of the spinal joints to the nerves of the CNS as the CNS controls the nerves that help you move your body. The CNS is connected to the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which is the nervous system for the organs and therefore not only can chiropractic help with musculoskeletal issues, it can also help to increase the performance of and reduce the stress on your organs. The typical treatment techniques used are gentle, low force adjustments made to the joints whether done by the hands or accessory tools.

So, why should you be seeing a Chiropractor during your Pregnancy?

Regular chiropractic care is an integral part of the pre and postnatal stages of pregnancy. Prior to pregnancy, it helps to achieve a viable pregnancy and then, during the 3 trimesters, keeps mum feeling good during the physical and emotional changes that occur. The joy of preparing for a new baby is diminished for many women by persistent back pain during pregnancy, causing much stress and frustration due to the lack of relief available. Many pain-relieving drugs have unwanted side effects that may endanger both mother and child. For this reason, it is important to know as much as possible about why you may be experiencing back pain as well as effective alternatives to taking medication. Many problems suffered during pregnancy may be directly related to the health of your spine. These may include backache, headaches, aching legs, sciatica, breathlessness, nausea and fatigue. 96% of women have been shown to experience back pain during pregnancy.

The 4 main benefits to seeing a Chiropractor during your pregnancy

1) Increased Maternal Wellbeing

Pregnancy causes the biggest change to the adult body, predominantly that of the accentuation of all the spinal curves and the pushing forward of the centre of gravity. With that comes a host of musculoskeletal symptoms so commonly associated with pregnancy such as:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn
  • Low back pain
  • Pelvic girdle pain
  • Symphysis pubis dysfunction
  • Sciatica
  • Weakening of the pelvic floor

Chiropractic care has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of those ailments allowing the mum to enjoy her pregnancy more, remain mobile and therefore be in a much better physical and emotional state for the birth and the post-partum period.

2) Increased Intra-Uterine Space

If there is pelvic misalignment, not only can this cause low back pain, sacro-iliac pain, sciatica, pelvic girdle pain and symphysis pubis dysfunction, it also will affect the length and tension of the associated pelvic and abdominal muscles and ligaments and can impact the amount of space baby can freely move in. When the pelvis is misaligned instead of the pelvic outlet (the hole baby comes out of) being a nice smooth circle it can become more of a figure 8 shape. This could then impact the ability for the baby to go head down. A breech presentation is when a baby remains in the head up position after week 32 and remaining in the breech position not only can have a negative impact on the baby’s hips (there is an increased association of hip dysplasia with breech presentations) but it also has a major impact on the style of birth you can have. In some countries the protocol for breech presentation is a c-section with possibly being offered the external cephalic version (ECV) procedure prior to that. Chiropractic treatment, which includes the Webster Technique, has been shown to have a huge success rate of treating breech presentations. At my clinic in Dublin the Webster Technique is utilised along with other chiropractic treatment techniques when a patient presents with a breech baby and I have a success rate of over 70%.

 3) Easier and Faster Labour

Receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy has been shown to reduce labour time by 24% on the first baby and up to 39% in subsequent babies. It has also been shown to reduce the use of pain killers by 50%. This is because any misalignments have been removed creating a more unobstructed pathway for the baby to journey through, the mum has hopefully been able to enjoy a pain free and mobile pregnancy, the fact that chiropractic treatments have been shown to increase the release of endorphins (your happy hormones) and reduce the release of norepinephrin (your stress hormones), and correct biomechanics of the spine and pelvis during birth allows your baby to apply even pressure onto your cervix with the head, which enables your body to dilate effectively, resulting in shorter labour time.

4) Postpartum Recovery

Chiropractic in the postnatal phase is as important as during pregnancy whether you’ve had a natural vaginal birth, an intervention led birth or a caesarean birth. If you have had chiropractic care during the pregnancy, then hopefully it will aid you to have a natural birth and your recovery will be quicker as there will be less musculoskeletal trauma and less emotional trauma. However, motherhood brings with it different musculoskeletal stresses such as feeding your baby, carrying your baby, the sleep deprivation, and the continued release of the hormone relaxin if you are breastfeeding. Therefore, postnatal chiropractic treatment sessions are recommended to help you on your postnatal recovery.

All in all, the benefits of chiropractic adjustments are lengthy and should not need to be avoided due to pregnancy. In my experience expectant Mums need it more than ever. Special pillows and after care should be provided by an experienced therapist to support their comfort and reduce any anxiety.

If you are considering going to a chiropractor please make sure that they are a registered member of the registered Chiropractic Association in your country as they will be fully insured and completing annual CPD points and don’t forget to check your private medical insurance as most include chiropractic care as part of their plans.