It is very common for pregnant women to experience pain in their hips and lower back. At some point during pregnancy, about half of pregnant women will experience some form of back pain.
Chiropractic medicine has been in a battle with mainstream medicine for most of its existence. However, there is a growing body of research that points towards chiropractic techniques being useful towards conditions such as back pain.
If you are pregnant and suffering from back pain or a number of other issues, you might be wondering if it's safe to visit a chiropractor when pregnant.
Let's dive into everything you need to know so you can make an informed decision for you and your baby.
What Is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a healthcare professional that is licensed and trained to care for the neuromusculoskeletal system. This system includes the nerves, bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments.
Through the use of spinal adjustments, a chiropractor helps individuals maintain good alignment and manage a number of health conditions including back and neck pain.
A part of the practice of chiropractic is the ability of the body to heal itself. As a part of seeing a chiropractor, you might be advised with nutrition and exercise advice.
The belief behind chiropractic medicine is that realigning joints and making spinal adjustments can help improve systems throughout the entire body.
Can You See a Chiropractor When Pregnant?
It is thought that receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy is safe. However, there are some situations where it might not be a good idea to see a chiropractor during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, you will want to get the approval of your doctor before you visit a chiropractor. If you're experiencing the following, it is usually not recommended that you receive chiropractic care:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Vaginal bleeding
- Placenta previa or placenta abruption
- Moderate to severe toxemia
There are certain chiropractors that specialize in prenatal care. However, it's worth noting that all chiropractors receive training that is related to pregnancy. Consider getting a referral for your doctor or asking a prospective chiropractor if they specialize in prenatal care.
What Do Chiropractors Do When You're Pregnant?
Chiropractors will use adjusting tables in order to accommodate the needs of pregnant women and their growing bellies. They will use techniques that avoid putting pressure on the woman's abdomen.
They can also help pregnant women learn stretches they can use at home to ease discomfort and relieve tension.
What Are the Benefits of Seeing a Prenatal Chiropractor?
It is believed that receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy can help you find relief in the muscles and ligaments that change throughout the course of the pregnancy. This can help lead to a smoother delivery down the road. At this point, though, more studies need to be done to learn whether or not these claims are true.
People who are proponents of chiropractic care during pregnancy believe that it has a number of different benefits. Let's take a look at some of these.
It's not uncommon for pregnant women to experience morning sickness. This is particularly true during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, other women will deal with morning sickness for the entirety of their pregnancy.
Some people believe that visiting a chiropractor can help with morning sickness experienced during pregnancy. The idea is that aligning the spine properly allows your nervous system to optimally function. Studies have suggested that morning sickness can be lessened in frequency and severity with chiropractic care.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is a common complaint among pregnant women. This makes sense considering that pregnant women gain weight, have their center of gravity shift, and undergo hormonal changes.
A number of different studies have found that manual therapies, such as those used by chiropractors, can be effective for treating pain in the lower back.
When a baby is positioned with its bottom or feet first in the uterus, it is referred to as a breech. The ideal position for a baby for childbirth is with their head being delivered first. It is common for breech babies to turn to a position where their head will come out first by 36 weeks into the pregnancy.
It is common for C-sections to be recommended for breech babies but some of them can be born vaginally.
Chiropractic care is becoming a more and more common way that people address the issues that contribute to premature babies. One particular method used to help deal with this issue is known as the Webster technique.
The Webster method refers to a particular form of chiropractic care that is used while a woman is pregnant. The Webster technique focuses on the sacrum and the pelvis specifically. In addition, it focuses on the ligaments and muscles in this area.
The Webster technique was initially developed by chiropractor Dr. Larry Webster in the 1980s. Inspired by his daughter's difficult birth, he sought to find ways that labor and delivery could be made easier through chiropractic care.
Some women seek chiropractic care with this method if they have a history of breech babies, a breech baby, or other concerns with their pelvis or sacrum.
During pregnancy, women can experience something known as round ligament pain. This is a sharp jabbing or pain feeling that usually occurs in the groin area or in the lower belly. This can occur on one side or on both sides.
This is considered to be a normal part of being pregnant and it is one of the most common complaints of pregnant women. Frequently, this condition occurs during the second trimester.
A number of different movements or activities can trigger this type of pain. These include rapid movements, rolling over in bed, quick steps, or vigorous activity.
Some believe that chiropractic care can help to reduce the discomfort and pressure that you experience from round ligament pain through the use of soft tissue work.
Pelvis and Sacrum Pain
Pregnant women can experience pelvic girdle pain that stems from the three main joints of the pelvis. Additionally, it can arise from the ligaments, muscles, and nerves associated with these joints. Approximately 45% of women deal with this type of pain or pubic bone and SI joint pain during pregnancy.
Some people believe that chiropractic care can be a very effective treatment for pelvic pain.
Length of Labor
One study found that there might be a connection between a longer duration of the labor and delivery process and back pain. According to one retrospective review, women who seek chiropractic care during gestation have an average of 25% shorter labor time. Additionally, women who get chiropractic care during their pregnancy experience 31% shorter labor times on average.
How Often Should You Go to the Chiropractor While Pregnant?
There is no set-in-stone schedule that you should follow if you are pregnant and receiving chiropractic care. People who are believers in receiving this type of care while pregnant recommend visiting regularly. This might mean around once a month for the duration of your pregnancy.
It's possible it might make sense to go more often if you have a particular discomfort that you are trying to relieve.
It's important that you discuss going to the chiropractor with your doctor before doing so. This is particularly true if you are considered to have a high-risk pregnancy.
Another common experience for women during pregnancy is an increase in hormones that can result in acne. Check out our list of the top ten foods for preventing acne here.
Risks of Chiropractic's
When chiropractic adjustment is performed by someone that is licensed and trained to deliver this type of care, it is safe. Severe complications from chiropractic care are quite rare. However, it is important to understand the risks of chiropractors, however rare they might be.
One thing you might notice when you are researching chiropractic care during pregnancy is that there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this practice since it was first created. Over the years, this form of treatment has been in a battle with mainstream medicine, which often claimed that chiropractic was based on ideas that are pseudoscientific and antiscientific.
Over time, though, there has been a growing list of research reviews and studies that show that chiropractic care can be effective for certain conditions. For example, one study found that patients who visited a chiropractor as their initial provider for pain in the low back had a 90% decreased odds of opioid use.
Chiropractic care has also been found to be effective for headaches, neck pain, and for acute and chronic pain. That being said, it's important to know what the risks are before undergoing any type of treatment. Let's take a look at what you should know.
Compression of Nerves in the Lower Spinal Cord
Your spinal cord carries messages from your brain to your muscles and soft tissues and back again. If this bundle of nerves is compressed anywhere from your neck to your lower back, it can result in pain, numbness, and weakness.
A Herniated Disk or Worsening of an Existing Herniation
You might also hear herniated disks referred to as ruptured, slipped, or bulging disks. This is when one of the round cushions known as disks between your vertebrae leak or tear.
A Certain Type of Stroke After Neck Adjustment
One rare but very serious potential risk of chiropractic care is that of having a stroke. The energetic rotations and thrusts that are used at times in neck manipulation could possibly lead to a small tear in the neck's artery walls. This condition is known as cervical artery dissection.
If a blood clot forms at the site and later moves to block one of your brain's blood vessels, it could result in a stroke.
Whether or not this is a real risk is something of much dispute. That being said, it's worth knowing about the potential of this risk before making a prenatal chiropractor appointment.
Are Chiropractors Covered by Provincial Health Care Plans?
Third-party payers extensively cover chiropractic care in Canada. These include the federal public service, employee benefit plans, extended healthcare benefits, and worker's compensation boards. It also includes the RCMP, the automobile insurance industry, Veteran's Affairs Canada, and Canadian Forces.
You will need to look at your particular health care plan to find out if you are covered for chiropractic care.
Under the provincial health plans of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, chiropractic care is partially funded.
Final Thoughts on Chiropractors When Pregnant
Chiropractic care is considered generally safe when it is performed by a licensed, trained professional. Seeing a chiropractor when pregnant is also generally considered to be safe, but it's a good idea to talk to your doctor first. They will be able to further discuss with you the risks and potential benefits.
There are serious complications that are associated with chiropractic care. However, these are ultimately fairly rare. At the end of the day, you will want to talk to your doctor and do your own research to determine whether or not it's something that you want to pursue.
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