Is It Safe to Visit a Chiropractor during Pregnancy?

We believe that it is extremely important, to both you and your baby, that you receive regular chiropractic care through your entire pregnancy. Most chiropractors have observed that pregnant women feel much better during their pregnancy with regular visits to a chiropractor. The ones who receive regular chiropractic care seem to have easier and quicker deliveries.  

To date, there are no known risk concerns to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. Basically, all doctors of chiropractic are formally educated to work with expectant women. However, it is up to the mother-to-be to choose chiropractors who are members of the American Chiropractic Association, who are bounded by a code of ethics. Wasilla chiropractors welcome pregnancy patients for care. 

According to a research, 50% of all expectant women suffer back pain during their pregnancy period. 50 to 75% of the women suffer back pain through labor as well as delivery. 21% of the women seek medical care regarding neck pain. These statistics may not be perfect, but they indicate the need for chiropractic during pregnancy.

Chiropractor Pregnancy Risks

Is chiropractic safe when pregnant? Yes, most definitely! Misconceptions do exist that chiropractic care is risky for pregnant women. However, chiropractors are trained how to use careful practice with pregnancy patients.

Technically, there is no real risk of chiropractic care during pregnancy. There are so many mothers that go along with other unsafe medical protocols, which have statistically caused a significant number of birth traumas.     

Chiropractic care has proven to be very effective at treating birth traumas and helping children with sensory disorders. Therefore, the same manipulative care can help the mother and the child avoid deliveries with birth traumas attached.

Chiropractor during Pregnancy 1st Trimester

There are a few things that are likely to happen in the first trimester: you are either going to feel very sick, very tired, or both. Many women may experience a deep fatigue, and sometimes from doing nothing. The best course of action would be to allow yourself that extra rest you desperately need. Consider chiropractic massage therapy to help you relax and allow your body to rest. 

You might have a very well-planned fitness schedule from your fitness trainer, but that may not be enough. Once you become pregnant, you may find that intense fatigue will hit you, and you may soon find out that it is not as simple for you to get out of bed in the morning as you used to. Instead, you may need to allow yourself more sleep time.

Some women may choose to cope with the aching, discomforts, and fatigue experienced in the first trimester. You do not need to do that if chiropractor care is within your reach. According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are no known reasons that suggest chiropractic is unsafe during pregnancy.

The Association suggests that regular manipulative care can provide safe as well as effective treatment for strained joints and muscles that are pulled by the developing fetus. Even though, some may advise consulting your regular doctor prior to visiting a chiropractor’s office if you have special considerations. There are a number of things that chiropractic can help with in the first trimester, and they include:

  • Prevent any possible interference to the mother’s nervous system, which is the control center for all body systems as well as functions.
  • To get rid of tension subjected on the ligaments supporting the uterus in order to prevent fixation and misalignment.
  • To create the necessary balance required in the pelvic muscles, bony structures and ligaments for a stress-free pregnancy.
  • To make the pregnancy safer and easier from the very beginning so as to avoid complication in the second and third trimesters.

Chiropractor While Pregnant 3rd Trimester

The third trimester usually brings its own set of challenges. Many women experience a lot of hip and back pain, which is due to the relaxin hormone. Hormonal factors can also increase pronation. The hormone relaxin increases the elasticity of connective tissues. As a result, the plantar fascia, the plantar capsular, and the plantar ligamentous fibers soften and elongate.

The softening and elongation leads to dropped arches of the foot. The pronated feet are more likely to occur during pregnancy along with an increase of weight distribution on the feet as well as the anterior shift of the weight bearing line. In light of these events, more women have been seeking chiropractic care.

There are specific manipulative procedures your doctor of chiropractic would focus on during the third trimester to get your body in good shape for labor and delivery. Strengthening your pelvic floor is one of the primary objectives. This minimizes the stress put on the pelvic muscles during pregnancy and increases circulation to your vaginal area.

This speeds healing after birth and helps your pelvic floor return to its pre-pregnancy state. You will need to continue with the chiropractic care after you give birth to continue to strengthen your pelvic muscles. You can also engage in fitness exercises, such as pelvic tilts to strengthen your core and ease back pain during pregnancy and labor.

Chiropractor Pregnancy Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain or pelvic instability involves the bones, muscles, and the nervous system of the pelvic as well as the lower back. Even though the pelvis appears to be a fixed circle of bone, it is made up of three separate bones that are joined together. The involved bones include: two hipbones, the backbone in the lower spine, and the tailbone.

The involved joints are: the public joint, which connects both hipbones on the front side; and the two joints in the lower back on either side of the sacrum, referred to as the sacroiliac joints. The bones form a ring that is held together with cartilage and ligaments, which relax and stretch in response to hormonal changes during pregnancy.

This leads to the lengthening as well as weakening of the ligaments of the pelvic joints, the surrounding muscles, and the connective fascia, which all provide stability to the pelvic ring. The abovementioned activities may cause the bones to shift and become misaligned, resulting in pain and interfering with the ability to move properly.  

The fact that the musculoskeletal system is interrelated means that the misalignment may affect the entire body. There are a number of simple movements that may be difficult and painful, including: reaching to put things away, getting out of bed in the morning, and moving from sitting to standing.

Who Experiences Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?

Pelvic pain due to unstable pelvis is a normal condition during pregnancy, which is considered a useful condition that facilitates delivery. Women who swam a lot during their youth may present more complaints than other people. Pelvic pain is also common with women who experienced low back pain before pregnancy.

Signs of Pelvic Pain

Most women who have pelvic problems complain of continuous pain. The pain may be sharp, burning, or sore. It usually focuses in and around the pelvic area. The associated areas are: the pelvic bone; the groin; the back or the sides of the thighs; the lower back, the stomach; and the tailbone.

The pain can radiate downward into the legs, upward into the back, and sometimes into the neck. One of the most annoying aspects of the pain is that it keeps on changing. It can be intense, and it can disappear suddenly. This makes a pregnant woman feel confused and unsure. Here are the major signs you should look out for:

  • Digestive problems
  • Pain while urinating or defecating
  • Bloating
  • Incontinence
  • Back pain

What a Chiropractor Can Do for Pelvic Pain and Other Related Issues during Pregnancy

Doctors of chiropractic see more than one cause of pelvic instability in pregnancy. The two main causes they see are: diastasis symphysis pubis (DSP) and symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). Chiropractic care is very effective for pelvic instability; not to mention that it is natural and safe. Chiropractors do not involve the use of medication during pregnancy.

A chiropractor will conduct a full body exam and take a detailed medical history prior to any chiropractic treatment plan. The chiropractic treatment may include:

  • Evaluation of the pelvic pain
  • Work on the affected muscles and ligaments
  • Diaphragmatic release
  • Active release techniques
  • Ultrasound and laser therapy
  • Application of ice
  • Webster’s technique
  • Activator techniques
  • Blocking techniques
  • Endorse the use of a sacroiliac stability belt
  • Exercise advice

Diaphragmatic Release

Proper Diaphragmatic Release will eliminate possible problems with motion sickness, breathing, oxygen levels, and blood flow to the mother and the baby. This chiropractic procedure helps to relax the broad ligament, giving the baby more room to take the labor position. This is a subtle technique that uses the lightest touch possible.

Active Release Techniques (ART)

This is a non-forceful approach used by chiropractors to relieve sacral pain and low back pain during pregnancy. It is a musculoskeletal approach that does not constitute of any vertebral adjustment. The manipulative doctor uses a combination of tissue motion and digital pressure to selectively stretch precise soft tissues parts that cause pain and discomfort.   

Webster’s Technique

This is a type of chiropractic care that focuses on reducing strain on ligaments supporting the uterus, as well as improving pelvic alignment, which may encourage baby to flip. It is the recommended technique to be used throughout pregnancy by a chiropractor.

The Webster’s Technique is well-defined as a definite chiropractic examination and adjustment that decreases interference to the nerve system as well as facilitates biomechanical balance in ligaments, muscles, and pelvic structures.

The technique leads to the removal of torsion (the tension on the muscles and ligaments which cause intra-uterine constraint and prevents the baby from comfortably assuming the best possible position in preparation for birth) to the uterus, reducing any constraint to the baby.  

Chiropractor Pregnancy Sciatica

Sciatica is severe pain, weakness, or numbness of the lower back, buttocks and thighs that radiates from the side of the thigh to the front of the lower leg. This pain is normally concentrated on one side of the body. Sciatica can be mild, but patients are usually very uncomfortable.

As pregnancy progresses, baby grows larger and eventually presses its head into the mother’s pelvis. As a result, the pelvic bone undergoes great pressure, despite the fact that the pelvis shifts to house the baby. The pelvic pressure may actually stretch the sciatic nerves, which are located in the back and buttocks.

Stretching or pressure on the sciatic nerve causes intense pain, weakness, and numbness. Sciatica is not an easy thing to live with, but chances are it will clear up before delivery if you seek the help of a chiropractor.

A sciatica treatment plan in pregnancy may include: ice/cold therapies, ultrasound, and spinal manipulation. Ice/cold therapies help to control sciatic pain by reducing inflammation. Ultrasound helps to increase circulation as well as reduce pain, muscles spasms, stiffness, swelling, and cramping.

Manipulation of the spine releases restricted spinal movements in order to restore misaligned vertebrae to their original position. Spinal manipulation may combine gentle pressure and minimal force. Many pregnant women have benefited from a chiropractic adjustment to relieve sciatica and lower back pain due to pregnancy.

Chiropractic adjustment is safe for a pregnant woman and her baby and can be especially useful to those who are trying to avoid unnecessary medication in treating sciatica and lower back pain. A number of good investigations offer increasing evidence that manipulative care is helpful to pregnant women and their unborn babies.

In Conclusion

During pregnancy, chiropractic care may assist to:

  • Reduce pelvic and spinal discomfort and tension
  • Reduce labor time and make delivery easy
  • Improve your body’s overall health and wellbeing
  • Improve your capacity to cope with stress
  • Increase your ability to exercise comfortably

In the event of a breech birth, some chiropractors are trained in the Webster’s Technique and may treat women to create the optimum environment for the baby to turn. This is one of the many things women can try.

Safety of chiropractic during pregnancy is a major concern for most people. However, the American Pregnancy Association views chiropractic care as a safe therapy for women during pregnancy. According to modern science, chiropractic is considered an effective and safe way of handling common musculoskeletal problems that affect pregnant women. Prepare yourself early to enjoy holding your new baby without hurting your back. 

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells - Anchorage ChiropractorDr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.