In the last several decades, mounting interest in non-invasive, natural medical treatment and prevention of disease has increased significantly. With the overuse of pharmaceutical medications, especially dangerous opioid painkillers, many women are looking for alternative methods of handling pain associated with pregnancy. On the spectrum of options that are available to pregnant women, chiropractic treatment offers an often-safer alternative to traditional medical therapies.

Women have been receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy since the early 20th century, but it’s only just recently that comprehensive studies have been done to evaluate its safety and efficacy. Though quite common for general practitioners and obstetricians to be skeptical of chiropractic care, there is mounting evidence that it is both safe and effective at alleviating pain related to pregnancy.

More and more women are turning to chiropractors for less invasive alternatives to alleviate pain during pregnancy, and for good reason. Pain is often an unfortunate attendant to pregnancy for many women, due to the body’s natural changes to prepare for birth, but chiropractic treatment shows many benefits to mitigate this issue. In a study from 2003, 75% of pregnant women who receive chiropractic care experienced pain relief with as little as 2 visits to a chiropractor.

Chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy have been shown to:

  • Reduce back, neck, and sacroiliac pain.
  • Reduce the occurrence of headaches or migraines.
  • Control nausea.
  • Decrease the likelihood of preterm labor.
  • Lessen the chance of the use of forceps during delivery.
  • Reduce the likelihood of cesarean section.

According to another study in 2007, Chiropractic treatment was a significant factor in pain reduction – some 84% of women finding relief due to treatment. Aside from pain, shorter labor time is cited, affecting 31% of women on average, provided they have been seeing a chiropractor through the totality of their pregnancy.

Chiropractic care is also used to help balance the pelvis.

Chiropractic care is also used to help balance the pelvis allowing the baby to get into a better position for delivery. The Webster technique, which is used to flip a baby in the breech position, has a 90% success rate according to Larry Webster, the technique’s founder. Breech presentation occurs in around 4% of all pregnancies and can often lead to delivery via cesarean section. The Webster technique offers an alternative to the more invasive and painful external cephalic version that is often performed to correct a breech presentation.

All chiropractors have received training in adjusting pregnant women, but it’s best to go to a practitioner that specializes in treating pregnancy-related pain. Often adjustments of pregnant women take a little longer, and you want someone who is well versed in certain techniques.

When you first visit a chiropractor you will out a health questionnaire. This helps the practitioner assess how best to treat you. Special pillows and tables will be used to ensure your comfort during your adjustment. Since your joints and ligaments will already be loose, thanks to the hormone “relaxin,” the practitioner will use a lighter touch when realigning your joints and spine. The chiropractor might also give you some exercises and stretches to do at home.

In most circumstances, your chiropractor might have you use some machines to lubricate the joints. He or she may also conduct some short, light massage to help relax tissues to prepare the body for manipulation. Frequently, a physician might use conjunctive therapies, such as nutrition, ultrasound, or cold laser. If more extensive medical intervention is necessary, chiropractors have no issues working with other physicians to assist in pain management. Following the birth of your baby, continued care with your chiropractor will help assure avoiding pain associated with recovery, as well as help with shoulder and neck pain, common to new parents stemming from the demands of holding a child long term—headaches and shoulder discomfort being most common.

Exercise during & after pregnancy significantly improves recovery time.

After the birth of your child, ask your chiropractor about recommended exercises for recovery. Women who exercise through pregnancy and maintain exercise postpartum have significantly improved recovery times, and much better outcomes with weight gain. Such women can also avoid other costlier and more painful medical interventions to which generally more sedentary women are subject. With proper medical direction from a competent Chiropractor, you can also avoid injury by being made aware of the mechanics of your body after such a significant health event.

If costs of care are a concern for you, you’ll be relieved to know that most insurance providers cover chiropractic treatment. Be certain to look for a physician that is in network under your insurance plan to keep your health care costs low.

There are a few contraindications that would preclude you from receiving chiropractic care. They include cramping, premature labor, vaginal bleeding, toxemia, placenta previa/abruption, and ruptured membranes. As with any changes you make to your care, talk to your primary physician before visiting a chiropractor. Not all medical doctors are familiar with chiropractic care during pregnancy. Ultimately, it is your choice and decision. The first step is finding medical providers that respect and support your health care choices.

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