Did you know that Moms, fetuses and babies all have spines? Chiropractic physicians know it, and have been adjusting pregnant mothers and treating pregnant and infant spines for over 100 years.
At Integrity Chiropractic, we have been treating pregnant moms and babies for over 16 years with the consent and encouragement of their midwives and OB/GYN’s. In fact, OB/GYN’s count for the largest amount of medical referrals to the Integrity Chiropractic office. Even now, this care is sometimes scrutinized and criticized by some medical personnel who are not familiar with the benefits. Interestingly enough, published research as far back as 1911, 1918, 1946 and 1952 in the osteopathic profession has shown the benefits of spinal manipulation in pregnancy. (1,2,3,4)
Growing research has shown chiropractic care to be a safe and effective treatment for pregnant mothers. Studies have reported that 50% of all women complain of lower back pain during pregnancy, and 75% experience back labor. (5,6,7,8) Dr. Leatherman and Dr. Bak’s wives were both adjusted throughout their pregnancies, and even in the delivery room.
As the baby grows, the additional weight increases stress on the back, postural shifts rapidly occur, and hormonal changes begin to relax the supporting ligament tissues of the spine and pelvis. This often leads to increasing aches and pains among other problems.
“Through compensation, the sagittal curvature of the remainder of the spinal column increases as well. The lumbar lordosis, designed to absorb some of the axial forces, loses integrity as a static support and may be a source of disc injury. In addition, the increase in circulating progesterone, estrogen, and relaxin throughout gestation, especially in the third trimester, brings about pelvic hypermobility and creates a decrease in spinal stabilization.” (10)
Incredibly, the ligamentous laxity brought on by pregnancy often makes spinal adjusting comparatively easy for Dr. Leatherman and Dr. Bak, allowing them to utilize the gentlest of movements. (11)
Chiropractic care has also been shown to significantly reduce labor time for women who had care throughout their pregnancy. A hospital study that looked at chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy, found a 50% decrease in the need for painkillers during delivery, due to adjustments during pregnancy. Dr. Joan Fallon published that first time moms averaged 24% shorter labor, while experienced mothers had a 39% reduction in the average labor time. (9,12)
Chiropractic treatment of the mid-back can help alleviate mid-back pain, shortness of breath, and heartburn. Treatment of the mid to lower back can help with other unnecessary problems such as constipation, frequent urination, leg pain, lower back pain, and pelvic pain.
What about the fetus and newborn?
Chiropractic treatment is not just beneficial for the mother. The developing baby can benefit from chiropractic treatment as well. Adjusting the mother helps reduce limitations to proper growth and development of the baby, as well as allowing the mother to avoid medications that may be harmful to the baby’s health.
The normal birthing process is a potential source of trauma to the infant’s spine. Some chiropractors extend their understanding of spinal segmental dysfunction, or subluxation in chiropractic terminology, to apply to newborn spinal function, with the resultant concern for the health of the infant. The induced vector of force that may cause trauma to the newborn includes traction of the cervical spine coupled with hyperextension and rotation during the birth process. (13)
Moreover, the birth process can be complicated. Forceps, cesarean, and suction or vacuum extraction can also cause trauma to the newborn’s cervical spine, thoracic spine and spinal cord (11) and may warrant chiropractic evaluation. Nerves between the neck and the armpit such as the Brachial plexus and cervico-thoracic nerve roots can be damaged, such as Klumpke’s paralysis and Erb’s palsy. These injuries are a potential result of applying common birthing methods. (14)
Dr. Leatherman’s boys were both adjusted in the hospital the same day after birth. Both births were complicated: one birth needed vacuum extraction after a prolonged labor and the other was a full breech presentation where forceps were utilized towards the end of the delivery. Additionally, Dr. Bak’s son was also adjusted shortly after a long but uncomplicated labor at a birth center. All three children have continued their chiropractic care since birth. And yes, even pediatricians refer to chiropractors.
In a review of 1000 infants, Dr. Guttmann suggested that birth trauma frequently affected the atlanto-occipital joint, (joint between the head and the neck) causing blockage or vertebral subluxation. (14) Correction of such a presentation may be accomplished through a light, precise, biomechanical adjustment, using various gentle techniques. The chiropractic adjustment of the neonate and infant is very light in nature and often only requires mild sustained pressure. It is vastly different than the techniques utilized with adults. (14,15)
At Integrity Chiropractic, our care also includes essential nutrition, stability exercise, and lifestyle modifications that contribute to a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Dr. Leatherman and Dr. Bak appreciate that research suggests chiropractic care helps reduce symptoms in up to 85% of women experiencing significant lumbo-pelvic pain during pregnancy. (16) To further illustrate that point, a prospective, cohort, outcomes study in Switzerland found that 52% of 115 recruited patients ‘improved’ at 1 week, 70% at 1 month, 85% at 3 months, 90% at 6 months and 88% at 1 year. (17)
A combination of good advice from the doctors at Integrity chiropractic results in a less stressful pregnancy and a more comfortable delivery for both mom and baby. So if you’re having pregnancy related spine symptoms, Dr. Leatherman and Dr. Bak are ready to help in any way they can.
1. Whiting L.M. Can the length of labor be shortened by osteopathic treatment? J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1911;11:917–921. [Google Scholar] 2. Hart L.M. Obstetrical practice. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1918:609–614. [Google Scholar] 3. Dooley W. Osteopathy’s contribution to prenatal care. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1946;46:6–7. [Google Scholar] 4. Jones M. The value of routine manipulation in pregnancy. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1952; 51:554–557. [PubMed] 5. Phillips C.J., Meyer J.J. Chiropractic care, including craniosacral therapy, during pregnancy: a static-group comparison of obstetric interventions during labor and delivery. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995;18(8):525–529. [PubMed] 6. Diakow P.R.P., Gadsby T.A., Gadsby J.B., Gleddie J.G., Leprich D.J., Scales A.M. Back pain during pregnancy and labor. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1991;14(2):116–118. [PubMed] 7. Berg G., Hammer M., Moller-Nielsen J., Linden U., Thorblad J. Low back pain in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 1988;71:71–75. [PubMed] 8. Borggren CL. Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. J Chiropr Med. 2007 Jun;6(2):70-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jcme.2007.04.004. PMID: 19674697; PMCID: PMC2647084.
Reduced labor times
9. J.M. Fallon. Textbook on chiropractic & pregnancy. Arlington, VA: International Chiropractic Association; 1994: 52, 109.
10. DiMarco D.B. The female patient: enhancing and broadening the chiropractic encounter with pregnant and postpartum patients. J Am Chiropr Assoc. 2003;40(11):18–24.
11. Shaw G. When to adjust: chiropractic and pregnancy. J Am Chiropr Assoc. 2003;40(11):8–16.
12. Fallon J.M. Chiropractic and pregnancy: a partnership for the future. ICA Int Rev Chiropr. 1990;46(6):39–42.
Birth trauma and adjusting newborns
13. Esch S., Zachman Z. Adjustive procedures for the pregnant chiropractic patient. Chiropr Tech. 1991;3(2):66–71.
14. Howe C.A. Scientific ramification for producing pre-natal and neonate chiropractic care. Am Chiropr. 1993;15(3):20–23.
15. Peet J.B. Chiropractic pediatric reference manual. Rose Publications; Shelburne, (Vt): 1991. p. 25.
16. Borggren, CL. Pregnancy and chiropractic: A narrative review of the literature. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 6(2):70-4 · July 2007 DOI: 10.1016/j.jcme.2007.04.004. [PubMed] 17. Peterson CK, Mühlemann D, Humphreys BK. Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, medium term and 1 year follow-up. Chiropr Man Therap. 2014; 22(1):15. Published 2014 Apr 1. doi:10.1186/2045-709X-22-15.