About halfway through my pregnancy, I started experiencing lower back pain. I thought yoga and physical activity would protect me, but apparently that hormone relaxin is pretty powerful stuff! It works to loosen your hips to prepare you for labor and delivery. Based on where my pain was at, I knew it was my sacroiliac (SI) joint causing me trouble – where the sacrum meets the pelvis. I put up with it a few weeks. I skipped yoga, I rested, I iced. But the pain was preventing me from living my life, so I stopped by the chiropractor’s office that was located in my office building.
I did absolutely NO research, which is unlike me. The pain was bad enough at work one day that I just walked over to the office at lunch and said, “Help!” Little did I realize that the chiropractor I ended up seeing was certified in the Webster technique. It’s a widely practiced prenatal chiropractic technique that promotes a “relaxed uterine environment” and allows the baby to move into the optimum birth position.
Cool, right? As soon as I got home I started reading up on it. I couldn’t believe I never had heard about it before! I did a lot of reading about pregnancy and childbirth in early pregnancy and prenatal chiropractic care never came up. Some people may see chiropractic care as “fringe” or alternative, but even the American Pregnancy Association recommends it. And I found several studies in PubMed that showed clear benefits, including significantly shorter labor times and reduced incidence of c-sections and breech and posterior babies (which causes the dreaded back labor!). And there are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. Even if the chiropractor didn’t make my back pain go away, I was sold!
The first appointment was about an hour and included a thorough assessment of my spine and gait. She did ultrasound therapy on my SI joint, trying to relieve some of the inflammation. Then came the adjustment. I’ve seen it done in movies, and my sister and dad have talked about it, but nothing could prepare me for the “crack.” She twisted me up like a pretzel (all upper and mid-spine, not my lower body where the baby was), threw her weight on me, and achieved that satisfying sound. Ahhhhhh. She also did my neck, which gave me the heeby jeevies, but also felt wonderful. She taught me how to massage my round ligament, and gave me some much-needed advice on how to sit at my desk and told me to stop crossing my legs, a lifelong bad habit of mine.
I continued to see her once a week throughout the rest of my second trimester and all of my third trimester. The back pain took a few sessions to go away, but it did go away. From what I’ve heard/read, the muscles and joints take a while to be “trained.”
And what about labor and delivery? I gave birth to a healthy baby girl mid-February. I was induced (scary!), but once we hit active labor, interventions were discontinued. She was head down, anterior, and active labor was less than five hours. Pushing lasted 20 minutes. Obviously, I have nothing to compare it to. Maybe my body would have done that on its own without chiropractic care. However, seeing the chiropractor during pregnancy was so enjoyable, I would definitely do it again if I have another baby.