Chiropractic is the second most common non-allopathic practice sought by pregnant women (1) (massage is the most common). In fact, approximately 1 in 6 pregnant women see a chiropractor (way above the general population) and about half of those women will go back 5 or more times.
An exciting, very large recent study (2) of 1,835 women, indicates “women consulting with chiropractors during pregnancy are less likely to require a caesarean section after onset of labour or to have a premature birth.”
(Interestingly, it also indicates that women are more likely to have an instrumental childbirth, without a suggestion as to why this finding occurred)
The study goes on to state “this finding aligns with claims made by chiropractic maternity care specialists” such as Jeanne Ohm through theICPA (3). Such claims include adjusting subluxations, which may otherwise lead to:
spinal and pelvic misalignment
low back pain
potentially impairing mum’s vital systems and organs
effects to the mum’s health and well-being
effects to the baby’s health and well-being
intrauterine constraint, resulting in:
restricting the room for baby to move and to develop,
causing torsion in the uterus,
compromising baby’s position
potentially impairing the future health of the baby
affecting the baby’s position in birth (breech, posterior etc.)
asynclitic head position, associated with a lengthier, less comfortable and more complicated birth
mum’s less-than-ideal biomechanics may mean that obstetric interventions are more likely to be recommend and used and that these interventions increase the risk of subsequent and more serious procedures
The bottom-line claim in Ohm’s article is that giving the mother’s pelvic biomechanics throughout pregnancy “due attention will not only result in a more comfortable pregnancy, but will optimize the baby’s developing systems in utero and contribute toward achieving optimal fetal positioning for a safer and easier birth for both mother and baby.”
In explaining how chiropractic achieves the results noted, the study states: “Practitioners ….make claims of clinical effectiveness and safety of their treatments regarding the provision of care to pregnant women which are based upon their practice philosophy. Chiropractic practitioners propose chiropractice (sic) during pregnancy enhances the nervous system function of the mother and that this promotes the health potential for both mother and infant. It is also claimed that by establishing balance through the pelvis via chiropractic manipulation, the birth canal becomes optimised. Proponents of chiropractice for pregnant women argue that women who receive chiropractic treatment during pregnancy should avoid pregnancy complications and labour difficulties (e.g. breech position, intrauterine constraint, dystocia).”
Again: “women consulting with chiropractors during pregnancy are less likely to require a caesarean section after onset of labour or to have a premature birth.”
Seems like we’re finding that those anecdotes, case studies and deductive reasonings are being backed up by statistics.
1. Utilisation of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners within maternity care provision: results from a nationally representative cohort study of 1835 pregnant women. Steel, A., Adams, J., Sibbritt, D., Broom, A., Gallois, C., Frawley, J. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2012 12, 146.
2. Relationship between complementary and alternative medicine use and incidence of adverse birth outcomes: An examination of a nationally representative sample of 1835 Australian women. Steel, A., Adams, J., Sibbritt, D., Broom, A., Gallois, C., Frawley, J. Midwifery 2014 April.