Posted by: Dr. Paul Zemella - Santa Barbara Chiropractor | August 8, 2011

Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

Proper chiropractic care during pregnancy is an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of prenatal care. The rapid growth of the uterus during pregnancy results in stress on the pelvis and spine as a woman’s center of gravity changes. As a result, many pregnant women experience back pain, pelvic pain, and sciatica due to the compromised musculoskeletal system and nervous system. Additionally, when the pelvis and spine become misaligned due to the stresses placed on them the position of the baby is less than optimal. Chiropractic adjustments restore alignment and proper nerve function resulting in decreased pain and better position of the baby which in turn can result in easier, faster, and safer births.

The uterus is supported in the pelvis by three sets of ligaments: the broad ligament, the round ligaments, and the uterosacral ligaments. These ligaments are attached to the bones of the pelvis. When the pelvis is unbalanced or misaligned (or subluxated as chiropractors call it) the ligaments will become unbalanced as well. As a result these ligaments pull unevenly on the uterus. This torsion of the uterus results in intrauterine constraint for the baby which can result in breech presentations (baby is head up instead of head down), transverse presentations (baby is sideways), or extension and/or rotation of the baby’s neck. Any of these deviations from the ideal head-down, chin-tucked position will increase the likelihood of a longer and more difficult labor as well as increased interventions in labor such as epidurals, episiotomies, forceps, and Cesarean sections.

Subluxations of the low back and pelvis also affect the functioning of the nerves that supply the uterus. During labor these nerves cause dilation of the cervix and the contractions of the uterine muscles. If the nerves are not functioning at their most optimal level due to a subluxation then labor may be longer or more difficult.

Chiropractors who treat pregnant patients often use the Webster technique to balance the pelvis and influence the nerves of the low back and pelvis. The Webster technique is a very specific chiropractic adjustment that reduces interference to the nervous system and promotes balance in the bones, muscles, and ligaments of the pelvis. When using the Webster technique the chiropractor will check for the presence of a sacral subluxation (misalignment of the sacrum). A gentle and specific adjustment of the sacrum will restore alignment of the sacrum in the pelvis. Typically a specific table will be used to accommodate the pregnant belly or the chiropractor may use pregnancy pillows made specifically for adjustments during pregnancy. Next, the chiropractor will analyze the round ligaments of the uterus to check for areas of tension. Gentle pressure is used to relieve any areas of tension in these ligaments.

A Chiropractor properly trained in prenatal care can provide gentle, safe, and effective assistance throughout the 9 months of pregnancy. Chiropractic care should be included in every pregnant woman’s prenatal care, whether she is experiencing pain or not. Restoring alignment to the low back and pelvis helps to not only decrease pain during pregnancy, but also allows the baby to be in the best position for birth and allows for the best possible functioning of the nerves that facilitate birth. These factors all promote a faster, easier, and safer delivery for both mother and baby.

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