Chiropractic care during pregnancy

The developing fetus also causes the uterus to enlarge and expand forward, which displaces the mother’s center of gravity, thus placing excessive stress on the spine and causing spinal subluxations to occur.

by Dr. Dawn Tames — 

Would you like to make your pregnancy and delivery more comfortable? Chiropractic care can help. It is a natural, drug-free, safe method of care, even for pregnant women. A doctor of chiropractic is thoroughly trained to understand the mechanical and neuromuscular changes that occur during the nine months of pregnancy, and beyond.

Doctors of chiropractic deal with the relationship between the nervous system and the spine, which is made of many individual bones called vertebrae. The body’s master controller is the brain, the brain’s extension is the spinal cord, and the spinal cord branches into many nerves. These nerves exit between the vertebrae to send messages from the brain to every cell of the body.

Chiropractors spend years obtaining highly specialized training in order to detect misaligned vertebrae that put pressure on the nerves running between them, interfering with the messages between the brain and the body. This is called vertebral subluxation.

Chiropractors can correct the subluxation with an adjustment involving laying their hands on the spine and aligning the vertebrae. Aligning the vertebrae releases nerve pressure and allows the messages from your brain to communicate without interference to the body. Therefore, the body is able to operate at 100 percent of its optimal potential.

During pregnancy, many changes occur in the woman’s body, due to hormones. The hormones estrogen and relaxin cause the ligaments in the body to relax. This allows the pelvic inlet to enlarge for delivery of the baby. Subluxations can occur at one or both sacroiliac joints, as well as at the symphysis pubis joint, which may narrow the pelvic inlet or birth canal. These subluxations of the pelvis may be responsible for longer labors and possibly for some of Caesarian section births.

The developing fetus also causes the uterus to enlarge and expand forward, which displaces the mother’s center of gravity, thus placing excessive stress on the spine and causing spinal subluxations to occur. This stress can result in back muscle spasms, nerve impingement, and even sciatica, pain which radiates down the leg. Fifty percent of all women complain of low back pain during pregnancy. The instability of the spine and its forward displacement can also be responsible for subluxations of the neck, which can result in various symptoms in the mother, including headaches, nausea or insomnia.

One of the first changes in the woman’s body is an increase in the circumference of her rib cage. Intercostal neuralgia is a common middle-back pain occurring during the first trimester. This pain may be the result of thoracic vertebrae misalignment which has put pressure on the nerves around the rib cage. All these changes that affect the mother’s body can cause discomfort, pain, and even problems during labor and delivery. Chiropractic can ease many physical problems associated with pregnancy.

The health benefits of chiropractic treatment have been demonstrated in many clinical studies. Chiropractic care can help women become pregnant and maintain their pregnancies, control vomiting during pregnancy, deliver full-term infants with fewer complications, and produce infants who are healthier than the normal population.

Irvin Hendryson, M.D., showed that women who received manipulative therapy (adjustments) in their third trimester of pregnancy were able to carry and deliver children with more comfort. Dr. Per Freitag, M.D., is an orthopedist who incorporated manipulation therapy (adjustments) during the patient’s pregnancy. He found that with chiropractic care, the need for painkillers during delivery was reduced by half. Dr. Gutherie, M.D., found that manipulative therapy shortens labor by 50 to 60 percent and lessens medication requirements by 50 percent. Postpartum depression also is decreased in patients receiving manipulative therapy.

Various stresses are placed on the woman during pregnancy. Hormonal changes, weight gain, structural changes of the pelvis and eventual motherhood all take their toll on her body. Chiropractic care can address these structural changes and can alleviate some of the associated physical stress. Chiropractic helps insure proper position of the pelvis, aiding in quicker, easier delivery and provides the mother’s body freedom from nerve interference. Regular chiropractic care can allow her body to function at its optimal level when her body needs it the most.


  • Hyttan, F. E. Chamberlain, G., eds; “Clinical Physiology in Obstetrics,” Oxford, Blackwell Scientific 1980.
  • Mantle, M. J., Greenwood R.M., Currey, H. L., “Backache in Pregnancy,” Rheumataol. Rehabil. 197 16:95.
  • Stein, K., “The Value of Chiropractic Care in Cases of Pregnancy,” The ACA Journal of Chiropractic, July 1964.
  • American Medical Association records released in 1987 during trial in U.S. District Court Northern Illinois Eastern Division, No. 76C3777.
  • Freitag, Per: Expert testimony of Pertag, M.D., Ph.D. comparing the results of two neighboring hospitals, U.S. District Court Northern Illinois Eastern Division, No. 76C3777, May 1987.
  • Gutherie, D.O., “Effect of Pressure Applied to the Upper Thoracic (placebo) versus Lumbar Areas (Osteopathic Manipulation) for Inhibition of Lumbar Neuralgia During Labor,” Journal of AOA, Vol 82, No. 4, Dec. 1982 p.247.
  • Diakow, P. and Gadsby, J. et al., “Back Pain During Pregnancy and Labor,” JMPT Vol. 14, Feb. 1991.


Dawn Tames, a chiropractic physician in Scottsdale, Ariz., has a family wellness practice with large infant pediatric and pregnancy care. She specializes in chiropractic biophysics with corrective exercise and traction, and integrating craniosacral procedures. 480-315-8444.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 6, December 2006/January 2007.

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