Some of the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy are to alleviate pain and discomfort, to optimize the birth position of the baby and to prevent uterine constraint.
Many women experience back pain and discomfort during pregnancy. Could you start by explaining how pregnancy and the subsequent weight gain affects the spine and the body?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely. There are many different things that happen to a woman’s body when she becomes pregnant. One of the first things that you mentioned is yes, she will start to gain weight. And as a woman gains weight during pregnancy, the center of gravity starts to move forward because the baby bump is moving forward to the interior, and that puts a fair amount of stress on the lower back, and changing the weight bearing responsibilities, moving it away from a certain part of the vertebrae and putting a little more stress onto the other parts.
This will contribute to back pain in the expecting mom, and there are other things that will happen during pregnancy as well. But if you just think about it, if I gave you a backpack that weighed 30 pounds and told you to wear it for the next nine months, you’d probably want to take it off in the first 10 to 15 minutes. So as the baby grows and occupies more space in the abdominal cavity, that can compress the diaphragm. It can cause a little tension around the round ligaments, which will cause moms to have some pelvic pain. There can be some pain underneath the ribs as the baby expands through there. And then the ligaments that kind of hold the baby in place, there’s the uterosacral ligament, the round ligament and the broad ligaments, which are kind of attached to the uterus and anchor the uterus to the lumbar spine and everything inside there.
Even a minor amount of weight gain, will put stress on these ligaments and they can start to tighten up or pull. So simple things like that will increase the amount of back pain the expecting mom will see. Then also as the center of gravity moves forward, it can cause the neck and upper body to move forward, which can also cause neck and shoulder pain in the expecting mom as well. There are many different things that the weight gain will affect on the body.
Then later on there is also the hormone relaxin, which the body starts to secrete, which loosens everything up and can create a little bit more play in the spine. And sometimes during pregnancy and that hormone circulating, you can see a little bit more increased chances of minor misalignments or subluxations occurring in the spine that can aggravate the mom.
What type of chiropractic treatments are performed on a pregnant woman to keep their body in the best possible condition during pregnancy?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, we employ the Webster technique. That was developed by Larry Webster in the late ’50s and ’60s. And he found that combining some of the traditional chiropractic techniques, with manipulation or stimulation of the round ligaments, the sacral ligaments in the broad ligaments, he found that the mothers that he was working on, the expecting moms, were delivering with less pain, they had less need for interventions. If they were told that their babies were breach, a lot of the kids righted and they were able to have natural births with less pain and less interventions. And that’s been attracting moms to chiropractic care for well over 50 years in the United States.
The Webster technique is the primary technique that we use with the expecting mom. You can also sprinkle in the more traditional chiropractic adjustments as needed by the mother. If she’s having neck pain, upper back pain, and there are misalignments up there, we can actually do some of the more traditional chiropractic techniques. They’re all 100% effective and safe for the expecting mom.
In what ways does chiropractic care help prepare the mother and baby for an easier natural delivery?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, by utilizing the Webster techniques and traditional chiropractic techniques, you will actually relax the muscles, you’ll relax the round ligaments, the uterosacral ligament, and the broad ligament in conjunction with this specific chiropractic adjustments to the pelvis and the lower spine. When you create ideal alignment with the lower spine, the sacrum and the pelvic girdle, what you’ll see is that it creates an optimal environment inside the womb for the fetus, because it has the most room, because those ligaments aren’t tight and pulling or changing the shape of the uterus.
With lots of room and minimal tension, supporting the ligaments, it’ll decrease the likelihood of uterine constraint that can affect the amount of time that labor goes on and birth positioning. And then there’s a lot of moms who will come to chiropractors hoping that utilizing Webster technique will turn their babies.
Now, Larry Webster and the ICPA, we don’t really like to say that the Webster technique is a breech turning technique. While Larry observed that, there was close to an 85% success rate for a vaginal delivery in the patients that he was seeing, it truly is not a breach turning technique. The general consensus from the ICPA is not to advertise or sell it as a breach turning technique, but just one more tool for the mom to use during her pregnancy to alleviate pain, discomfort and optimize the birth position of the baby and prevent uterine constraint.
For a pregnant woman who has never been to see a chiropractor, what should she expect during her prenatal chiropractic appointments?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, a prenatal chiropractic appointment isn’t really that much different than a traditional appointment with a chiropractor. The only differences is that we’re going to be applying that Webster technique and care for the expecting mom. We’ll usually take about the same amount of time, because there are certain things you can do and certain things you can’t. We have special tables that drop out to support the bump so to speak. So, the moms are very comfortable and the treatments are safe and effective.
But typically, when you come in, you’re going to hear an awful lot of explanations about what chiropractic is, what it isn’t, what the Webster technique can do and what it cannot do it. You’ll get a full explanation. We explain it and then if the moms understand and that’s what they’re here for, then we continue on and start the Webster protocol.
Typically, the Webster technique will be applied in the first month, usually about twice a week for the first four weeks. And then for a lot of moms it’s usually just once a week until they deliver.
What are some additional benefits of prenatal chiropractic care that we haven’t mentioned?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, as I said before, most of the Webster research supports that if you apply the Webster technique up until delivery, it should result in less pain for the mom, shorter delivery times, less need for interventions like C-sections, Pitocin and epidurals. But the chiropractic principles are true and accurate in all patients. And basically, chiropractic is a system of adjusting the spinal bones when they get misaligned to remove that nerve interference.
If you think about it, the nerve system controls and coordinates every function of every cell, tissue and organ system in your body, but it’s also the lead controller of the birth process. Once that baby is ready to come out, and breathe oxygen, it’s going to send a signal to the mom. Once that signal reaches the mom’s brain, that triggers this whole neurological cascade that actually pushes the baby out.
So, having a good strong nerve system and good connections and great alignment is all going to help that birth process go as simple and smooth as mother nature intended it. Sometimes it can get complex and even when the Webster technique is applied correctly, sometimes these deliveries do go to a C-section. There’s no guarantees in life. But stacking the deck in your favor should result with shorter delivery times, less pain for the mom, and a healthier start for both the mom and the baby. And that’s what we want for every patient who walks through that door.
To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call 917-534-6484 to schedule an appointment