Want an Easier Birth? Research Says Chiropractic Care Can Help!

By: Jacinda Hover, DC

A recent study demonstrated that women who receive chiropractic adjustments throughout pregnancy report faster, easier deliveries. First time mothers under chiropractic care reported a 24% shorter labor time (8-9 hour average) than those not seeing a chiropractor (14 hours). Second time moms experienced a 39% shorter labor time on average.

Chiropractic adjustments also allow babies to get into the optimal birth position (head down, facing backwards). How does this happen? It’s all about pelvic misalignment!

When the mother’s sacrum is displaced, the diameter of the pelvis is reduced, preventing the baby from comfortably entering the best position for birth. Breech presentations include when the baby is lying in its side or in head up position and frequently require a caesarean section. When the baby is facing forward, delivery is more painful and may result in increased use of medication.

So, what causes sacral displacement?

-Previous trauma to the coccyx or tailbone such as falling and landing on one’s bottom.

-Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: this may or may not have been an issue prior to pregnancy. Pelvic stability lessens during pregnancy due to increased relaxin, the hormone responsible for increasing the laxity of ligaments, allowing for expansion of the pelvis so the baby has room to grow. (Fun fact: relaxin also increases during menstruation, contributing to low back pain.)

Another cause of dystocia, or failure of labor to progress, is insufficiently strong or coordinated uterine forces. The uterus is an organ primarily composed of muscle tissue. Muscles require proper nerve function to fire adequately. The nerves responsible for dilation of the cervix and involuntarily muscle contractions go through the foramina (holes) in the sacrum. Therefore, if stress is placed on the sacrum, the nerves may undergo tension, preventing optimal function of the uterus.

There are several case studies supporting chiropractic as a successful intervention during labor. Women who are experiencing failure to progress via a long, difficult labor, may benefit from an adjustment while they are laboring. The well-documented effect of chiropractic manipulation on inhibiting pain provides a safe, effective way of managing pain during labor in addition to increasing pelvic mobility.

In addition to experiencing a shorter labor, women with sciatica, low back, and hip pain can benefit from chiropractic care during pregnancy. Adjustments in conjunction with myofascial release and exercises to mobilize and stabilize the core, hips, and pelvic floor help set women up for a natural childbirth and a speedier postpartum recovery.

Look for a chiropractor that is at minimum Webster Technique (a specific technique addressing sacral dysfunction) certified. A physician who utilizes myofascial release and is fluent in the rehabilitation of underlying movement and postural dysfunctions will help send you on a path toward a more comfortable pregnancy, and easier delivery.

Dr. Jacinda Hover's office is located in Avalon Wellness Center.  She specializes in prenatal and postnatal chiropractic care.