Nine Months and Counting: Chiropractic and Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting times in a woman's life, but during what is often a period of blissful anticipation, moms-to-be can also experience discomfort and other sometimes serious difficulties related to pregnancy. The world of chiropractic has consistently supported and assisted pregnant women to address these issues for more than three decades using the Webster Technique.
Conditions that result from pregnancy can include pain and loss of sleep, as well as anxiety and stress leading up to, and during, labor and delivery. Other conditions that can also arise include 'malposition', where a baby is in the breech, transverse or posterior position prior to delivery. None of these are advantageous for a safe delivery, and if not addressed, can cause a baby to get stuck in the birth canal. This can result in the need for further interventions, and even surgery.
ICPA and the Webster Technique
The Webster Technique was developed in 1986 by Larry Webster, D.C., the founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). According to its website, ICPA was created to 'promote and defend the chiropractic care of children, pregnant women and general family wellness care through patient advocacy, post-graduate education, and research'. ICPA is the oldest free-standing organization in the chiropractic profession to teach and certify chiropractors on the Webster Technique.
Webster Technique-certified chiropractors analyze and provide targeted adjustments to areas of the pregnant woman's body that help to create optimal conditions for pain reduction and a more successful pregnancy and delivery. A chiropractor targets the sacrum (triangle shaped vertebrae at the end of the spine), and ligaments that may be twisting, pulling, or weighing down the uterus. The goal is to improve pelvic balance and function which can also lessen or eliminate pain, encourage the baby to get into the optimal birthing position, and promote an easier labor and delivery.
Malposition: Breech, Transverse or Posterior
The Webster Technique helps 'open up' a mother's pelvic area through a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment of the pelvic region, providing the space necessary for a baby to move into the 'head-down' position - which is considered safest for a delivery. In addition, when the pelvis and ligaments are balanced through the Webster technique, the baby has the proper space to grow and develop in utero. Studies have shown that the earlier a pregnant woman receives this type of care, the more likely the baby will settle into an optimal position for birth. This in turn lowers the likelihood that the mother will need a cesarean section, a surgical procedure where a baby is removed through her abdomen. As with any surgery, this can invite a host of other medical threats to mothers and babies, both during and after delivery.
Addressing Pain During Pregnancy
Aches and pains are common during pregnancy due to the many changes a pregnant woman's body undergoes in the nine-months leading up to delivery. Hormones fluctuate and weight normally increases, which affects her posture and center of gravity. These changes oftentimes contribute to pain in the lower back, pelvis, knees, legs, hips and upper back, in addition to headaches. Since pregnant women oftentimes prefer not to take pain relief medications due to associated risks, chiropractic care offers a natural way to alleviate pain. Chiropractors that are trained to work with women who are pregnant can help to lessen stress and resulting pains throughout the entire body by providing adjustments to the spinal column and pelvis.
Shorter Labor and Delivery
The alignment and balance of the pelvis and sacrum affect the size and shape of the pelvic outlet where a baby emerges during delivery. The Webster Technique is utilized to restore proper alignment and balance in the sacrum and pelvis so that optimal space within the pelvic outlet can be attained. Studies have shown a 24% reduction in labor times for first-time mothers who received chiropractic care. A 39-percent reduction in labor time was also found for women who were delivering for a second time, when they had received chiropractic care.
Is Chiropractic Care Safe During Pregnancy?
Chiropractic care is safe for both moms-to-be, and for babies throughout pregnancy; no studies or evidence have shown otherwise. Doctors of Chiropractic who use the Webster Technique carefully position the mother to ensure her comfort and safety during the adjustment.
"Treating pregnant women, and even children, is an extremely important focus of our practice," said Dr. Katie Sleigh, a Webster Technique-certified chiropractor. "Through my training on the Webster Technique, I have been honored to provide pregnant women with relief during what should be an exciting and memorable time of their lives."
In summary, over the last three decades, the Webster Technique has proven to be a viable and successful option for pregnant women who are challenged with a variety of conditions during the nine months leading up to delivery. It also provides a non-medical, and non-medication treatment option that can improve conditions experienced by a pregnant woman. Whether it's a headache, body ache or pain, or the position of the baby prior to their birth, chiropractic care continues to build the case that it is an effective, natural and holistic option to address issues encountered by moms-to-be -- before, and as they bring new lives into the world.
ABOUT DR. KATIE SLEIGH
Dr. Katie Sleigh is a Webster-certified chiropractor with a special focus on working with pregnant women, infants and children. She and her husband, Dr. Quintin Sleigh, own and operate Sleigh Family Chiropractic, a family wellness clinic located at 3285 N. Arlington Heights Road in Arlington Heights. For information, call 847-788-0880 or visit SleighFamilyChiropractic.com.
Studies/Reference Information: WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/baby/risks-of-a-c-section, International Chiropractor Pediatric Association: https://icpa4kids.com/, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics: https://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(02)00015-5/fulltext, Pathways for Family Wellness: https://pathwaystofamilywellness.org, Healthline: https://www.healthline.com, US National Libraries of Medicine; National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647084.