Benefits to Receiving Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

  • Regulating your hormone function
  • Increasing baby’s room in the womb to grow and develop
  • Optimizing baby’s position in the womb (less likely to be breech)
  • Controlling symptoms of nausea
  • Reducing environmental stress
  • Reducing stress on mom’s vital organs
  • Increasing baby’s health and well-being
  • Making pregnancy a much more comfortable experience


Pregnancy: Chiropractic Studies

It is a common observation that birthing seems to be more comfortable for women who were under chiropractic care during pregnancy. The following studies mention how common spinal problems are resolved during pregnancy (up to 90%) and best of all how Chiropractic is safe, effective and most of all a drug free approach which is ideally suited for the health and well being of both mother and child.

The role of chiropractic in pregnancy. Vallone S. Int’l Chiropractic Assn. Review Summer 2002. p 47-51.

“By encouraging regular chiropractic and maternal self care (which includes good nutrition, regular stretching and exercise and stress management) we can improve our patient’s probability of a successful natural delivery.”

Complementary and alternative medicine in pregnancy: a survey of North Carolina certified nurse-midwives. Allaire AD, Moos WK, Wells SR. Obstet Gynecol 2000;95(1):19-23.

In this survey of 82 certified nurse-midwives, 93.9% reported that they recommended patients to alternative health care providers. 57.3% said they referred women to chiropractors.

Follow-up of patients with low back pain during pregnancy. Brynhildsen J, Hansson A, Persson A, Hammar M. In: Obstetrics & Gynecology, Feb 1998; 91(2): 182-6.

Women with severe low back pain during pregnancy have an extremely high risk for experiencing a new episode of more severe low back pain during future pregnancies and when not pregnant.

Note: According to revised guidelines from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vaginal delivery should be routine in women who previously underwent cesarean section birth, Journal Of The American Osteopathic Association, Feb.1989, Vol.89 No.2, p.164.

An effective drug-free approach to premature contractions. Phillips C. ICA Review Oct. 1998.

Dr. Carol Phillips has done an amazing job of integrating chiropractic with CranioSacral T therapy to develop a number of techniques to help women in labor and pregnancy. Using simple procedures, she teaches healthcare providers unique methods of helping their pregnant patients and young children.

She writes:

”What is it about chiropractic care and pregnancy? Why do so many women who receive care during pregnancy always ask us, ” How in the world do other women get through pregnancy without adjustments?”

This paper presents a simple procedure that doctors can teach spouses and birth assistants in order to prevent and correct “one of the most serious complaints associated with imbalance – premature contractions.”

Back Labor: a possible solution for a painful situation. Phillips C. ICA Review July/August 1997.

From 50-75% of pregnant women experience the acute, severe, low back pain that is categorized as back labor. Dr. Phillips writes: “many first time mothers mistakenly think back labor is what childbirth is supposed to feel like. Let me assure you IT IS NOT.” Dr. Phillips offers a biomechanical approach to back labor. Dr. Phillips states, “Back labor is not a very common finding in patients who have received chiropractic and craniosacral therapy throughout pregnancy.”

Dr. Phillips offers approaches that will help the baby turn so as to prevent back labor and methods that a chiropractor, labor companion or any birth attendant may use to help a woman in labor relax the pelvis, reduce pelvic tension and permit a back labor presentation to turn the baby to a more natural position for delivery.

Hypolumbarlordosis: a predisposing factor for preeclampsia. Kanayama N. Maradny EE, Kajiwara Y. et al. European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 1997;75: 115-121.

About 1 in 200 pregnant women suffer from preeclampsia with hypertension and albuminaria (protein in urine) and which can lead to seizures, coma and death. No one knows what causes it.

The authors studied pregnant women to see if there was a relationship between their spinal shape, particularly the lumbar (lower back) spinal shape and preeclampsia. It was revealed that women with decreased lumbar spine curves had more preeclampsia. Interestingly, they also found that patients with reduced lumbar curves had decreased blood flow to the iliac artery than normal pregnant women.

Case history: premature labor. Cohen Eddy, D.C., F.I.C.A. Chiropractic Pediatrics Vol 1 No. 4 May 1995.

A chiropractor’s wife experienced premature labor at 32 weeks of gestation. She was also diagnosed with severe endometriosis resulting in inflammation of the ovaries and was informed that she would never be able to become pregnant and recommendation for treatment was laparoscopic surgery.

Patient refused treatment. She went to a hospital where the M.D.s wished to inject oxytocin to stop her contractions. The author writes:

“While at the hospital, the patient’s husband adjusted her. The intensity of the contractions decreased somewhat. However the contractions maintained the same frequency of every five minutes.” She was adjusted C-2, using the toggle recoil technique. Contractions reduced markedly and then discontinued completely “Patient then continued with weekly adjustments until the occurrence of labor and delivery at 40 weeks gestation, with no complications. The patient’s newborn infant was checked and adjusted 20 hours after the birth.”

Some preterm labor may have a neurologic condition that responds to correcting/reducing vertebral subluxation complex. Chiropractic and prenatal reference manual. Peet, JB, The Baby Adjusters, Inc. 1992. Shelburne, VT.

The effects of chiropractic treatment on pregnancy and labor: a comprehensive study. Fallon J. Proceedings of the world chiropractic congress. 1991; 24-31.

The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can change the shape of the spinal curves and overall posture which can affect organ systems.

In this study Dr. Fallon describes her work with 65 women who received chiropractic care from at least the tenth week of pregnancy through labor and delivery. These women experienced mean labor times significantly reduced compared to controls.

Women who were primagravidae (first pregnancy) who received chiropractic care averaged 24% shorter labor times than average for primagravidae women.

Women who were multiparous (had had at least one child prior) averaged 39% shorter labor times versus controls.

Adjustive procedures for the pregnant chiropractic patient. Esch S., Zachman Z. Chiropractic Technique. May 1991; 3(2): 66-71.

This is a discussion of the technique and modifications needed to facilitate spinal adjustments for the pregnant patient. The authors used pillows under the abdomen and flexed the knees while prone to reduce stress on the low back.

Back pain during pregnancy and labor. Diakow, PRP, Gadsby, TA, Gadsby JB et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther Vol. 14, No. 2 Feb. 1991.

From the abstract:

An interview of 170 consecutive female patients: of the 170 pregnancies with reported back pain, 72% also reported back labor…The treated group experienced less pain during labor.

Eighty-four per-cent of patients receiving spinal manipulative therapy reported relief of back pain during pregnancy. There was significantly less likelihood of back labor when spinal manipulative therapy was administered during pregnancy.

The effect of chiropractic treatment on pregnancy and labor: a comprehensive study. Fallon J. New York, NY: Yeshiva University. From 1991, World Chiropractic Congress Abstracts.

One half of all pregnant women complain to their obstetricians about backache (LeBan et al. 1983); it can be demonstrated that chiropractic care significantly reduces the mean labor time. /

Back pain during pregnancy Ostgaard HC, Anderson GBJ. Spine, 1991; 16(4): 432-436.

428 pregnant women who had back pain before pregnancy and 375 pregnant women with no previous back pain were followed at regular intervals. Back pain occurred twice as often in the group with a back-pain history.

Chiropractic and pregnancy, a partnership for the future. Fallon J. ICA Review Nov/Dec 1990. Pp. 39-42.

This paper discusses neurological conditions associated with subluxation in pregnancy: brachia neuralgia, compression of the brachial plexus causing tingling and numbness in the shoulder and arm; neuralgia paresthetica, compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve causing pain and paresthesia of the thigh; intercostal neuralgia, compression of the intercostal nerves causing radiating pain between the ribs; sciatic neuralgia, compression of lumbar plexus causing pain of the pelvic region and/or radiating down leg; coccydynia, pain at site of coccyx; separation of the symphysis pubis, causing pain at the symphysis pubis and SI joint; Carpal tunnel syndrome, compression of median nerve; Bell’s Palsy, compression of CN VII causing paralysis of facial muscles; traumatic neuritis, motor and sensory deficits of L5, S1 and S2 after labor.

Chiropractic care during pregnancy. Webster L, Today’s Chiropractic Sept/Oct 1989.

Dr. Webster writes:

Perhaps the best testimonial to the effectiveness of chiropractic care during pregnancy can best be summed up in my own personal experience while I was a student at Logan College. During my wife’s first pregnancy, she received regular chiropractic care. During her second pregnancy she did not (due to the fact that I was overseas). Her medical doctor (who incidentally was anti-chiropractic) made this statement: “I hate to admit it, but I can tell the difference in you. Would you find someone to give you chiropractic care?”

Pregnancy and chiropractic care. Penna M, American Chiropractic Association Journal of Chiropractic. Nov. 1989 p.31.

From the summary:

“Regular adjustments can make pregnancy less stressful and delivery less uncomfortable. Chiropractic treatment can continue safely until the day of delivery.”

Labor pain: correlations with menstrual pain and acute low-back pain before and during pregnancy. Melzack R, Belanger E. Pain, 1989; 36:225-229.

Viscersomatic reflexes may be responsible for low back pain during birth. Low back pain was significantly correlated with labor pain. Both menstrual pain and the increased labor pain may derive from the same mechanisms.

Low back pain during pregnancy. Berg. G. et al. Obstetrics Gynecology, 1988;71:71-75.

Sacroiliac dysfunction is common in pregnancy and adjustments is found to help.

Low back pain in pregnancy. Fast A et al Spine 1987 12(4): 368-371.

A study of 200 New York women indicated that 56% suffered low back pain during pregnancy and the most frequent onset of the pain was during the 5th to 7th months.

AMA study shows that pregnant women under chiropractic care have easier pregnancy and delivery. American Medical Association records released in 1987 during trial in U.S. District Court Northern Illinois Eastern Division, No. 76C 3777.

Irvin Hendryson, M.D. a member of the American Medical Association board of trustees, did a clinical study which revealed that pregnant women who received chiropractic adjustments in their third trimester were able to carry to term more frequently and deliver children with more comfort.

This information was suppressed and never revealed to the public or media. In the meantime, the AMA continued to attack chiropractic as “unscientific and dangerous”.

Medical expert state that less painkillers needed during delivery if patient under chiropractic care. Freitag, P. Expert testimony of Pertag, M.D., Ph.D. comparing results of two neighboring hospitals. U.S. District Court Northern Illinois Eastern Division, No. 76C 3777, May 1987.

A study was conducted in which chiropractic adjustments were incorporated into patients’ pregnancies. It revealed that the need for painkillers during delivery was reduced by half under chiropractic care. It was revealed that the AMA suppressed this study because it showed chiropractic effectiveness.

Conservative obstetrical procedures – part 11 Tyler R., Digest of Chiropractic Economics, March/April, 1983, 25(5): 18-19.

In the last trimester of pregnancy, especially in the last month, when the likelihood of difficulties and discomfort is greater, frequency of visits may be increased to up to three visits a week.

Chiropractic cares for the pregnant patient. Moore P. Digest of Chiropractic Economics. May/June, 1983, 25(6): 60-61.

“The frequency of visits of the pregnant patient should not vary drastically from ordinary proper procedure.”

Effect of pressure applied to the upper thoracic (placebo) versus lumbar areas (osteopathic manipulative treatment) for inhibition of lumbar myalgia during labor. Guthrie R, Martin R. Journal of The American Osteopathic Association, Dec. 1982, Vol. 82 No. 4, pp.247-251.

From the abstract:

In a study of 500 women during labor, 352 experienced pain in the lumbar area during labor, an incidence of 70.4%. One of the most interesting findings of the study was the association of back pain during labor and abnormal fetal presentation.

Application of pressure to the lumbar area to inhibit lumbar pain reduced the need for major narcotic pain medication and minor tranquilizing medication.

More on OMT in obstetric care. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association Vol 74, March 1975, Wentling, P:

“In the past, I have delivered over 6,000 babies. Each one of the mothers has received osteopathic manipulative therapy. Specifically, I move the sacroiliacs, keep the pelvis lined up, and loose. I feel that this helps to facilitate deliveries.”

What is the role of osteopathic manipulative therapy in obstetric care? For normal patients? For patients with problems (e.g. toxemia of pregnancy)? Fedlman H. Journal Of The American Osteopathic Association, Nov. 1974,Vol.74, p. 194.

“Adjustments makes the patient feel more comfortable and closer to her doctor, and the doctor’s placing of his hands on her body is a symbolic gesture of caring among the impersonal relationships between people in society today.”

What is the role of osteopathic manipulative therapy in obstetric care? For normal patients? For patients with problems (e.g. toxemia of pregnancy)? Hampton D. Journal of The American Osteopathic Association, Nov.1974, Vol.74, p. 192.

Adjustments keep the segments of the pregnant woman’s structure moving freely and normally. It permits a constant free flow of all body fluids and a normal venous supply to control function. During the second 6 weeks of pregnancy, the growing fetus and expanding uterus often settle in the hollow of the sacrum and relief of nausea may be achieved…adjustments…results in an easier pregnancy and an easier delivery. The return of the mother to prepartum health also is expedited by adjustments. Adjustments has a part in the prevention and cure of toxemia.

The short leg syndrome in obstetrics and gynecology. Sicuranza BJ, Richards J, Tisdall, LH American J of Obstetrics and Gynecology. May 15, 1970. pp.217-219.

Of 63 women found to have this syndrome, 90% achieved excellent relief with osteopathic therapy.

Cervical lesions in congenital pyloric stenosis. Decker, CE, Western Osteopath, 1928 (Feb.) 22:7-9.

A woman in her sixth month of pregnancy began to vomit, occasionally in a projectile manner. No evidence of toxemia could be found – urine, pulse, blood pressure, etc. were normal. Physical examination revealed a left subluxation of the axis. This was corrected. The vomiting ceased immediately and no recurrence was reported.

Vertebral lesions and the course of pregnancy in animals. Burns, L. Journal of The American Osteopathic Association Vol. 23 No. 3 November 1923. From the paper (p.157):

“Dr. L.M. Whiting of South Pasedena, has reported the evil effects of vertebral lesions upon the course of pregnancy and labor in several articles and lectures. She reports many normal pregnancies followed normal labor and normal young in women in whom there are no vertebral lesions, but she reports no normal pregnancies followed by normal labor in any case in which lumbar, innominate or lower thoracic lesions were found on examination.”

“Dr. Jeanette Bolles, of Denver, reports several families in which no children were born until the correction of a lumbar lesion, and that pregnancy often followed the correction.”

“Dr. A.V. Fish, Sapulpa, Oklahoma, reports an interesting case. After four years of sterile married life, the correction of lesions involving the innominate and the fifth lumbar vertebrae was followed by an almost normal pregnancy. The patient became pregnant within two weeks after the correction.”

Labor: Chiropractic Studies

In a study involving 223 pregnant women “showed a decrease in the duration of labor in pregnant women who received [spinal manipulation] compared with pregnant women who did not receive [spinal manipulation].”

Average Duration of Labor for 223 Women:

First Pregnancy WITH spinal manipulation, labor time = 9 hrs. 54 mins.

First Pregnancy WITHOUT spinal manipulation, labor time = 21 hrs. 6 mins.

Second Pregnancy WITH spinal manipulation, labor time = 6 hrs. 19 mins.

Second Pregnancy WITHOUT spinal manipulation, labor time = 11 hrs. 41 mins.

[Whiting LM. Can the length of labor be shortened by osteopathic treatment? J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1911;11:917-921.]

Another study involving 100 pregnant women also showed a decrease in labor time in women who received [spinal manipulation] to the lumbar vertebrae compared with those who did not:

First Pregnancy WITH spinal manipulation, labor time = 9 hrs. 20 mins.

First Pregnancy WITHOUT spinal manipulation, labor time = 15 hrs.

Second Pregnancy WITH spinal manipulation, labor time = 5 hrs.

Second Pregnancy WITHOUT spinal manipulation, labor time = 9 hrs.

[Hart LM. Obstetrical practice. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1918:609-614.]

“These studies suggest that by manipulating the lumbar spine, it is possible through viscerosomatic feedback to affect the pelvic viscera and possibly induce uterine contractions.” There is a viscerosomatic connection between the lumbar spine and the uterus.

“The effects of [spinal manipulation] are not limited to musculoskeletal complaints but can also induce change within the viscera through the viscerosomatic connection.”

A retrospective study showed that the use of [spinal manipulation] in pregnant patients “significantly decreased the probability of meconium-stained amniotic fluid, use of forceps during delivery, and likelihood of preterm delivery.”

The thoracic sympathetic nerves (SNS) innervate the chest viscera and upper extremities. “[Spinal manipulation] to the thoracic spine can affect the cardiovascular system of the upper extremities and the heart by stimulating or inhibiting the SNS.” Spinal manipulation to the thoracic vertebrae can help reduce the activation of the SNS, which can help alleviate systemic vasoconstriction.

Spinal manipulation to the thoracic spine can help regulate blood pressure.

“[Spinal manipulation] of the cervical spine, especially from the atlas to C3, can regulate the symptoms of overstimulation of the vagus on the heart.”

“Through the viscerosomatic connection, the hemodynamic changes of the maternal body can be controlled, the duration of labor reduced, and the complications of labor avoided.”

When [spinal manipulation] “is applied from the beginning of pregnancy through delivery, these hemodynamic changes can be controlled so that they may continue to provide benefits to the fetus but also be cultivated to avoid harm to the pregnant patient.”

Physical changes in a pregnant woman’s lumbar lordosis and thoracic kyphosis cause venous and lymphatic congestion, which can cause nausea, headache, and light-headedness. “[Spinal manipulation] to the low back and sacroiliac joint can help alleviate some of the discomfort that occurs because of these maternal physiologic changes.”

There is a “statistically significant reduction of degree of back pain during labor in women who received spinal manipulative therapy during pregnancy.”

“The data reviewed support the theory that [spinal] manipulation can have a beneficial effect on back pain in pregnancy.”

Many physical discomforts of pregnancy can be alleviated by using spinal manipulation “at each patient encounter through the duration of pregnancy.”

Increased progesterone levels during pregnancy cause increases in fluid retention, leading to swelling of the extremities and carpal tunnel syndrome. Spinal manipulation to the “transverse carpal ligament and thoracic spine can relieve somatic dysfunction and reduce upper extremity complaints such as carpel tunnel syndrome by decreasing upper extremity fluid retention.”

About 75% of women report back pain at some time during pregnancy. 

“Manipulative treatment can alleviate musculoskeletal complaints that arise during pregnancy.”

A 1982 study of 500 pregnant women showed that manipulation to the lumbar spine not only decreased pain during labor, but also “reduced the need for major narcotic pain medication.”

[Guthrie RA, Martin RH. Effect of pressure applied to the upper thoracic (placebo)versus lumbar areas (osteopathic manipulative treatment) for inhibition of lumbar myalgia during labor. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1982;82(4):247-251.]

A 1991 study showed that 91% of pregnant patients with sacroiliac dysfunction had alleviation of their low back pain after receiving manipulation.

[Daly JM, Frame PS, Rapoza PA. Sacroiliac subluxation: a common, treatable cause of low-back pain in pregnancy. Fam Pract Res J. 1991;11(2):149-159.]

Groundbreaking Research from the Spinal Research Foundation and Dr Haavik

• Chiropractic care can have an impact on pelvic floor muscles.

• Pregnant women who received chiropractic care had a greater ability to relax their pelvic floor muscles at rest.

• This relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles may mean that chiropractic care could be of benefit to pregnant women, as it may help them have a natural vaginal delivery.

Why this study matters: Your pelvic floor muscles are integral to the birth process, and to the prevention of incontinence and other issues, which makes this an exciting piece of knowledge for chiropractors and for women receiving chiropractic care.

Chiropractic care may actually enhance your chances of having a natural, complication free childbirth. This is better for both mother and baby.

"If we can have uncomplicated, natural vaginal delivery without drugs and intervention, the baby is better off and the woman is better off. This study we have just done suggests chiropractic care can help women by relaxing their pelvic floor muscles.” Neuroscientist and Chiropractic Researcher Heidi Haavik

Pregnancy, childbirth and aging can put these muscles through their paces. Across the world, millions of women suffer from incontinence and related conditions, contributing to a massive emotional, physical, social and financial costs and stress.

Pelvic floor functional changes with spinal manipulation in pregnant and non-pregnant women: A pilot study. JMPT 2016.


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