Chiropractic and Pregnancy

chiropractic and pregnancy 2

Your body, your baby

If you are pregnant, one of the best things you can do is see your chiropractor. Chiropractic care provides so many things a pregnant body needs: a flexible and balanced spine, hips and pelvis; internal organs without postural stress and freedom from nerve stress – all essential for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Many chiropractors have undertaken extensive study in obstetrics and paediatrics. Along with a healthy diet, exercise and avoiding drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, chiropractic care should be an essential part of a pregnant woman’s health care regimen.

Can chiropractic help?

Pregnant mothers share the same body chemistry as their unborn child, so it is important that your health is at its peak to benefit the health of your baby. A healthy nervous system is vital to optimal body chemistry and function. A healthy nervous system will always contribute to a healthier mother and child. Stresses experienced by a pregnant mother can affect the baby. From week 8 of pregnancy, babies can be seen responding to their mother’s stress, resulting in abrupt heart rate changes, positional changes and contractions of the baby’s muscles. Chiropractic care focuses on the health of your spine and nervous system to achieve the best possible environment for your baby to grow.

chiropractic and pregnancy 3“Chiropractic has helped manage my stress and my body through my second pregnancy and now Neil treats both of my children. Chiropractic is as valuable to our family care as our GP.” Gabrielle Ellett.

Chiropractic care may help maintain pregnancy, control vomiting, and deliver healthier, full term infants with ease1. Chiropractic has demonstrated success with back pain2, premature contractions3 and back labour4. One case of a woman experiencing premature contractions at 32 weeks with severe endometriosis was told she would never carry a baby to term. At the hospital she received chiropractic care and the contractions stopped. After leaving the hospital, she continued chiropractic care and had a normal labour and delivery at 40 weeks gestation5.

Altered weight bearing and movement patterns during pregnancy can place additional pressure on the muscles, ligaments, joints, discs and bones of a woman’s spine and can uncover regions that are not working well. 50% of women experience significant levels of back or pelvic pain during their pregnancy, leading many of them them to resort to pain relief such as paracetamol. But research shows that chiropractic care may help to relieve these symptoms in up to 85% of pregnant women6,7. In one study, 17 pregnant women under chiropractic care reported an original pain score of 5.9. After chiropractic care, they reported a pain score of 1.58.

Reduced labour time

Women experience on average a 24% reduction in the length of labour time with chiropractic care during pregnancy and that rises to a 33% reduction for those mothers who have given birth before9. By altering the biomechanics and neuromuscular control of the pelvis chiropractic, enables the muscles to become more relaxed and joints more mobile, which helps them to expand more freely during labour and settle more easily afterwards.

This improves the ease of delivery, creating less stress and pressure for both the mother and baby. It also means there is less likelihood or need to use interventions such as forceps or cesarean section, which can impact upon both mother and newborn child. C-sections have become increasingly common over the last few decades, and now account for as many as one in four births. While they are a necessary and safe option in some high-risk or complicated cases, studies show that natural and drug-free births are safer and healthier in both the short and long term.

Drugless health care

Another great reason for chiropractic care during pregnancy is that it is drugless. Drugs, whether prescription or over-the-counter, can harm the growing foetus. There is no such thing as a safe drug. No drugs should be prescribed during pregnancy without weighing the maternal need against the risk of foetal damage10. Antibiotics, aspirin, alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and cocaine; even cough syrup and cold and flu medications have been linked to foetal damage and miscarriage11.

While it has become accepted as common practice, no proper studies have been done to determine if ultrasound has adverse effects on the growth and development of children exposed in utero12. In assessing the effectiveness of ultrasound in pregnancy, it is essential to make the distinction between its selective use for specific indications and its routine use as a screening procedure.

Ultrasound may not be as safe as commonly thought. Ultrasound has been associated with symptoms of neurological damage13 and should only be used when medically indicated, i.e. when a problem is suspected, rather than as a routine screening to determine the sex of the baby or check on its development. Total exposure time and exposure intensity should be kept to an absolute minimum, avoiding Doppler during the first trimester especially.

Is chiropractic care safe during pregnancy?

Yes. Chiropractors are trained in assessing and adjusting pregnant women. At Spinewave we have supported many pregnant women through healthy, more comfortable pregnancies, right up to labour over the years. Every single one of them has found the support invaluable, both physically and emotionally.

One does not have to be experiencing any particular problem to visit a chiropractor during pregnancy. In fact, check ups are recommended during pregnancy considering the immense physical, chemical and emotional changes a woman undergoes at this time. In a survey of nurse-midwives, 94% recommended patients to alternative health care providers; among those, 57% referred women to chiropractors14.

For more information, call 09 522 0025.


  1. Stein, K. The value of chiropractic care in cases of pregnancy. ACA J Chiropractic. July 1964:19.
  2. Brynhildsen, J., et al. Follow-up of patients with low back pain during pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 1998 91(2):182-186.
  3. Phillips, C. An effective drug-free approach to premature contractions. ICA Review. Oct 1998.
  4. Phillips, C. Back labor: a possible solution for a painful situation. ICA Review. July/August 1997.
  5. Cohen, E. Case history: premature labor. Chiropractic Pediatrics. 1995 1(4).
  6. Diakow, P., et al. Back pain during pregnancy and labour. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1991 14(2).
  7. Borggren, C. Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. J Chiropr Med. 2007 6(2): 70–74.
  8. Lisi,  A.J. Chiropractic spinal manipulation for low back pain of pregnancy: a retrospective case series. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. 2006 51:e7-10.
  9. Fallon, J. The effects of chiropractic treatment on pregnancy and labor: a comprehensive study. Proceedings of the world chiropractic congress. 1991: 24-31.
  10. Vaughan, V., et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics (10th ed). Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co. 1975: 323.
  11. UNMC study links use of nonprescription cough medicine to miscarriages, birth defects. Pediatric Research. 1998 1-7.
  12. Marinac-Dabic, D., et al. The safety of prenatal ultrasound exposure in human studies. Epidemiology. 2002(13) Suppl 3:S19-22.
  13. Kieler, H., et al. Sinistrality, a side-effect of prenatal sonography: a comparative study of young men. Epidemiology. 2001(12) 618-623.
  14. Allaire, A., et al. Complementary and alternative medicine in pregnancy: a survey of North Caroline certified nurse-midwives. Obstet Gynecol. 2000 95(1): 19-23.

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