Chiropractic Care – should it be part of your pregnancy plan?

Pregnancy is a time of massive change – mentally, emotionally, hormonally, and biomechanically.


It is also a time when many women look for other options to manage various health challenges during their pregnancy. Chiropractic care rates among the many that women choose during this time. The great thing about chiropractic care is that it is safe, gentle, and drug-free – things we all want in any intervention while pregnant.

As a chiropractor, it is both a responsibility and a privilege to care for increasing numbers of pregnant women as more and more of them seek out chiropractic care as part of their pregnancy plans.

This article explores some new research around the possible benefits of chiropractic care for pregnant women and offers a brief review of the broader picture of chiropractic care in this area.


Lower back pain

Lower back pain is common in pregnancy and pregnant women are known to seek chiropractic care for pregnancy-related lower back pain.

A survey of South Australian Women reported 35.5% of women experienced moderate to severe lower back pain during their pregnancy. A whopping two-thirds of this group reported persistence with that pain after their pregnancy.1

In one report, 75% of pregnant patients who received chiropractic care reported that they experienced relief2 and in another review, there was a rate of relief from back pain of 84%3.

A study that measured pelvic floor function found that there was relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. We know that the pelvic floor and co-activation of transverse abdominus muscle are important in lower back pain.4

Photo credit: iStock.com / Martinan

Reduction in labour pain and duration

I can hear you all shouting YES PLEASE!

Women who undergo spinal manipulation prior to labour reported less back pain or ‘back labour’ during delivery3. (Back labour is an acute, lower back pain felt during labour that can be treated with sterile water injections)

Women who seek chiropractic care during their first pregnancy have been reported to have an average reduction in labour times of 25%, while those on subsequent pregnancies have been reported to experience reductions averaging 31%.5,6


Other possible benefits

There are some areas that chiropractic care MAY help with. The research in these areas is still being developed.


Breech Presentation

Following a study published in the Lancet in the year 2000, Caesareans became the most popular medical intervention for a breech presentation. In fact, while the rate of caesarean delivery for breech presentations in the United States was 14% in 1970, it is currently 90-95% and in some institutions 100%7.

A case series was published in Journal Pediatric, Maternal and Family Health in 2019 that showed resolution of breech presentation babies in 5 women using the Webster Technique7.

The Webster Technique has long been associated with chiropractic care during pregnancy. Combining sacral analysis and diversified adjustment, the aim of this technique is to “reduce the effects of sacral subluxation / SI joint dysfunction,” and in doing so, to facilitate “neuro-biomechanical function in the pelvis.


Chiropractic techniques have been shown to be safe and effective and are modified for the pregnant patient.

If you aren’t sure if chiropractic is right for you during your pregnancy, then call or drop into your local chiro for a chat to see if they may be the right fit for you. 

Many chiropractors have had extra training in pregnancy care and finding one of these is invaluable. Talk to other mums and health care providers about who they recommend or contact us @ Caring Hands Chiropractic and we can give you a referral to someone in your area.

If you would like any more information, please contact me @ Caring Hands Chiropractic (02) 4861 7718 or check out the website caringhandschiropractic.com.au


A little bit about us

My name is Sarah Worthington and have been a chiropractor and director of Caring Hands Chiropractic in Bowral since 2011. I discovered chiropractic at a young age and saw first-hand the health benefits it had for my family, which is what drove me to pursue chiropractic as a career path. I now have a family of my own, including my husband, our 1-year-old son, and our fur daughter. 

In addition to my degrees, I have completed my certification in SOT and am currently completing my certification in Webster Technique. I also participate in table educating for SOT seminars when time allows. I have done studies in the areas of applied kinesiology, nutrition, pediatrics, pregnancy, and women’s health and retained primitive reflexes.


References:

[1] Stapleton DB, MacLennan AH, Kristiansson P. The prevalence of recalled low back pain during and after pregnancy: a South Australian population survey. The Australian & New Zealand journal of obstetrics & gynaecology. 2002 Nov;42(5):482-5. PubMed PMID: 12495090. Epub 2002/12/24. eng.

[2] Shaw G. When to adjust: chiropractic and pregnancy. J Am Chiropr Assoc. 2003;40(11):8-16.

[3] Diakow PR, Gadsby TA, Gadsby JB, Gleddie JG, Leprich DJ, Scales AM. Back pain during pregnancy and labor. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1991 Feb;14(2):116-8. PubMed PMID: 1826921. Epub 1991/02/01. eng.

[4] Haavik H, Murphy BA, Kruger J. Effect of Spinal Manipulation on Pelvic Floor Functional Changes in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women: A Preliminary Study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2016 2016/06/01/;39(5):339-47.

[5] Borggren CL. Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. 2007 6//;6(2):70-4.

[6] Fallon JM. Textbook on chiropractic & pregnancy: International Chiropractors Association; 1994.

[7] Muclahy R, Mayo E (2019), “Resolution of Breech Presentations Confirmed by Ultrasound Following Chiropractic Care using Webster Technique in Five Women: A Case Series,” Journal Pediatric, Maternal and Family Health, pp. 19-27