Chiropractic Care For Pregnant Women
Birth workers who pay attention have long realized that chiropractic care for pregnant women can make an incredible positive difference in the birth experience. This guest post from our resident chiropractic expert, Dr Kristin Hosaka, explains not just the benefit of chiropractic care for pregnant women, but exactly how it works on a physiological level. Discover the difference chiropractic can make, not just in back pain, but in fertility, and the entire experience of birth.
Its 4am. I’ve had 2 hours sleep tonight. Once again I’m waiting for that incredible new life to be born. I watch as a strong mom endures a very painful back labor caused by a posteriorly positioned baby. I wish that she had been under good chiropractic care during pregnancy so as not to have to struggle so much. I think back to the birth of my son. I remember the pain of back labor as his head pushed against my sacrum.
I desperately wanted an adjustment to allow my sacrum and pelvis to spread open to allow my son to come through. Eventually he did present in a military position (crowning with the top instead of with his head tucked). If only I knew then what I know now. If I had known the incredible benefits of a properly aligned spine and pelvis, the benefits of the nervous system working as it is designed, and the benefits of positional work I could have had a much easier pregnancy and labor.
You see I was under chiropractic care, well… sort of. I had found a chiropractor for pregnancy, and I got adjusted from time to time. Nothing very regular. I felt great, but looking back I can recognize that my body wasn’t working properly. My periods were coming about once every 6 months with hormone fluctuations I’ll not go into. I’m surprised I got pregnant at all but a month after having a uterine lift I found myself looking at a plus sign.
The miracle of life. Two tiny cells came together to form a new life dividing and growing making the nervous system first then the circulatory system etc. I am in awe every time I think of the amazing way we are formed. How do those two cells know how to form us? Chiropractors call it Innate Intelligence : the intelligence that we all have within us that forms, regulates, and maintains each one of us, and which I believe was designed by God.
You might be asking yourself, “So what does Chiropractic ‘back popping’ have to do with anything pregnancy related?” My answer: EVERYTHING!
Chiropractic works to remove the interference in the nervous system by removing the stress on the spinal nerves thus restoring the communication lines between the brain and the body allowing the body to work as it was designed to work, allowing the Innate Intelligence of our bodies to flow unhindered. In other words, a misaligned bone causes a stressed out nerve and acts like a phone with bad cell coverage. The messages just aren’t getting through right.
Whenever a bone is out of place and interfering with the proper nerve flow, Chiropractors call it a subluxation. On a personal level, these are the places that can be painful (too much nerve flow), numb (not enough nerve flow), stuck, not moving properly, or anything in between.
When Chiropractors adjust the body, they correct these subluxations to remove the nerve interference.
I don’t know about you, but I want my body sending and receiving all of those signals, working the way it’s designed to work and at an optimal level, especially during pregnancy.
So how does a subluxation affect pregnancy? In order to regulate everything in the body, every cell in our body has 3-4 attachments to the nervous system. When our bodies become misaligned, the communication lines are disrupted to some degree or another. When subluxations in the low back and pelvis are removed, many couples struggling with infertility are finally able to conceive.
This tells me that the subluxations may have been interfering with several things “down there” such as hormone balance, physical structures such as the uterus and ovaries, as well as the overall stress levels of the system, each of which can affect the overall health and well being of the mother in all of the related areas that are vital in pregnancy.
On a structural level, the alignment of the pelvis directly affects the position of the baby.
Think of the uterus as a balloon being tethered down by 8 ligaments : four of which can greatly affect the position of the uterus because they attach to the pelvis, including the two Round Ligaments in front on each side of the uterus and the two Uterosacral Ligaments posterior to the uterus. When the pelvis and sacrum become misaligned or rotated, the ligaments are stretched or become lax depending on the pelvic rotation and can act to twist the bottom of the uterus.
This twisting is called intrauterine constraint and can cause positional issues with the baby including breech, transverse, asynclitic head position (neck is flexed to side which can cause longer labors) and posterior babies (back labor).
The ilio-psoas (pronounced so-as or as some of my patients call it, the sore-ass muscle) attaches to the front of the lumbar (low-back) spine and the inside of the hip and pelvic bones. (Awesome body images and psoas diagram here.) This very important core muscle acts as a sling behind the uterus and if tight or spasming on one side due to pelvic misalignment, it can shift the baby out of optimal alignment. So keeping the pelvis aligned can help give a breech or transverse baby room to turn, help baby lay on the left side, and can help shorten labors by an average of 30%.
Now that I’ve explained the basics, on to my favorite work- baby positioning. Position can be sooooo important during labor. It can make for a quick easy labor or, with an amazingly persevering mom, a 70+ hour labor, as with one of my babies whose shoulders got stuck. I have worked with women whose labors start and stop for several days so they come to get adjusted.
These babies are usually sitting on the right side, have an asynclitic head position or have a head stuck on the pubic bone, and once we work to reposition them using pelvic adjustments, ligament and muscle releases, and Spinning Babies techniques (thank you Gail Tully), these women will often go into labor within several hours if not on their way out of the office.
I had one patient who showed up with contractions 10-12 minutes apart whose water had broken 14 hours before. I released her sacrum and pelvis and used one rotational technique. Within 10 minutes, her contractions were two minutes apart and the baby was born less than two hours later. So often have I seen this that the midwives I work with in Cleburne made me change my day to work out of their office to Tuesday instead of Friday because they were tired of all of their weekends being taken up by the births.
Why does the right lying baby have this issue, you might ask? Because babies almost always turn in a clockwise direction from right to left. This means they have to turn 270 degrees to get out from the right but only 90 degrees from the left. While they are trying to turn, labor can start and stop as the baby’s head puts pressure on the cervix differently. And until the head is fully applied to the cervix, labor will often times come and go.
So looking back on the birth of my own son, he started on the right, went posterior and finally swung to the left but never tucked his chin. And had I known of the pelvic releases and Spinning Babies techniques, I know my labor would have been so much easier because I would have had the tools to help him work his way through my pelvis.
Better yet, if I’d been getting proper Chiropractic care, he probably would have started in a better position (unless my placenta was anterior). That’s why I get up at 4am to help so many women get their babies in optimal positions during their labors. I’ve been there and hope you don’t have to be.
Dr. Kristen is a chiropractor in Burleson, TX specializing in pregnancy chiropractic Please, feel free to share your experiences with chiropractic care during your pregnancy and labor in the comments!