For the past hundred years, chiropractic treatment has been used by pregnant patients to assure a comfortable pregnancy, and to assist with an uncomplicated labour and delivery. There is a growing collection of research studies that support the use of chiropractic care in pregnancy. The research appears in journals published by the chiropractic, osteopathic, midwifery, nursing and medical professions.
It has been reported that approximately 50% of all pregnant women experience back pain during their pregnancy (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology). However, only 21% of pregnant women with back pain seek consultation with their medical physicians (Spine).
Spinal alignment and movement patterns change during pregnancy due to the changing weight distribution within the spinal column and pelvis. These changes are recognised as being responsible for some of the back pain that occurs during pregnancy (Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics – “JMPT”). Additionally, traction, pressure and stretching of the tissues surrounding the body organs located inside the pelvis can cause referred pain and additional muscle spasm (JMPT).
Although the female pelvis has enough strength and stability to successfully carry a baby, the extra weight gain of 10-16 kgs greatly increases the stress on the joints of the spine and pelvis during pregnancy. As the foetus develops during the 40-week pregnancy, the increasing weight is projected forward and the lumbar lordosis (arch of the low back) is increased, placing extra stress on the discs and spinal muscles.
The level of several naturally occurring hormones increases throughout pregnancy. This leads to a weakening of the spinal ligaments which creates a level of instability in the pelvis and spinal column (Journal of American Chiropractic Association). All of these factors contribute to the back pain experienced by pregnant patients, which leads many pregnant patients to seek chiropractic care.
The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health published a study that examined the results of chiropractic treatment on pregnant women. In over 90% of the cases reviewed, the pregnant patient demonstrated a reduction of their pain and discomfort in only a handful of days. No adverse effects of treatment were reported by these patients. The study concluded that chiropractic treatment is effective in reducing the intensity of low back pain during pregnancy.
Further review of the published research provides evidence of shorter and easier labour and delivery for women who received spinal manipulation during their pregnancies (Journal of the American Osteopathic Association).
If you or anyone that you know is pregnant or considering a pregnancy in the future, it is recommended that you consult a chiropractor and explore the benefits of chiropractic care for expectant mothers.