Upfront disclaimer – I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Always consult your OB about what is safe for your specific pregnancy.
I’ve seen a chiropractor on and off over the past few years, mainly because I have a lot of back discomfort/muscle tension due to my work as an ICU nurse. When I finally got pregnant (yay!), it didn’t really occur to me that a chiropractor could help with that also, but when I told my friend I was hoping to have a natural birth, she urged me to go back to the chiropractor. She said that chiropractic care during pregnancy can help align the pelvis and make sure the baby is in an optimal position for childbirth.
Since pregnancy causes all types of changes to your body and can put added strain on your back, joints, and ligaments, it stands to reason that a chiropractor could not only alleviate some of your pain symptoms, but also properly realign your spine and pelvis.
Of course, I wanted to make sure it was safe to see a chiropractor while pregnant before booking an appointment. I tried to find some reputable medical sources to provide here, so you can make an informed decision as well. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “there are no known contraindications to chiropractic care during pregnancy”. The APA says it may also provide these benefits:
Maintaining a healthier pregnancy Controlling symptoms of nausea Reducing the time of labor and delivery Relieving back, neck or joint pain Prevent a potential cesarean delivery Help reposition a breech baby if the provider is trained in the Webster technique
This PubMed literature review of chiropractic care during pregnancy summarized findings from 33 references – although a relatively small number to draw data from, the findings from these studies were favorable for care. Of note, “A retrospective review of statistics reported that primigravida women who seek chiropractic care throughout gestation have, on average, a 25% shorter labor time whereas multiparous women who seek chiropractic care throughout their pregnancy have, on average, 31% shorter labor times.” (1) A 25% shorter labor time? Yes, please!
I go to a chiropractor who leans more toward the holistic side of things, even for a chiropractor. She does a lot of muscle testing and uses an ‘adjustor’, which applies painless pressure. She does maybe one “joint crack” type maneuver per session, but for the most part there are no crazy manipulations.
During my first session while pregnant, she said my pelvis was totally out of whack. The skeptical side of me wonders if she says that to everyone so she can get repeat business, and how am I supposed to know if my pelvic alignment is normal or not? But I dutifully went once a week or so, until she said it was better and that I could come in every 2 weeks. They are just short 10 minute sessions, so it’s not a big commitment and the only issue I have is the frequent co-pay and the trip to the office. If it helps get my birth canal ready so my baby can fall right out (hey, a girl can dream!), then I will consider it worth it.
I have to admit, I do not feel a huge difference before and after my sessions. This will depend on your insurance coverage and your chiropractor office, but the biggest benefit for me has been getting massages covered by insurance under a prescription from my chiropractor. I can get weekly massages and pay only $25 for an hour long session. They are ahhhmazing and I feel so much better and relaxed after my massage. As with chiropractic care, check with your OB before getting prenatal massages.
I’ve also had coworkers report pain relief after seeing their chiropractor for sciatic nerve pain. If you are hoping for a natural birth and/or experiencing discomfort during your pregnancy, consider finding a reputable chiropractor. Under my old BCBS insurance plan, sessions were just $8 each so it may not be a huge investment considering the potential benefits!
1. J.M. Fallon. Textbook on chiropractic & pregnancy. Arlington, VA: International Chiropractic Association; 1994: 52, 109.