June 29, 2016

Is chiropractic safe during pregnancy?

Most women experience back pain throughout their pregnancy. With the hormone relaxin being released throughout the body in order to allow the pelvis to expand and give birth, all joints subsequently become more lax and easier to strain. As a result of weight gain together with a change in the centre of gravity as the woman’s bump and chest grow, many women can for the first time experience discomfort and pain in their back, hips and joints.

We are often asked if it is safe to be adjusted during pregnancy. At Complete Chiropractic in Dee Why we help many Northern Beaches mums  through all three trimesters.

The current literature reports favourable results on the use of chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. Chiropractic evaluation and treatment during pregnancy may be considered a safe and effective means of treating common musculoskeletal symptoms that affect pregnant patients (Spring, 2007). Research has also shown first time mums average a 24 percent shorter labour, while mothers who have already given birth experience a 39 percent reduction in the average labour length (Fallon, 1991).

If you too are pregnant and suffering from pain or discomfort we may be able to help. Please call us on 9972 0040 to book a consultation.

Many expectant mothers come to me with complaints of lower back pain and breathing difficulties. Most of the women who see me won’t seek help from general practitioners because they don’t want to take drugs, so instead they seek help from alternative modalities. The complicating factor for pregnant women is that their spinal curves become exaggerated while they’re pregnant. Hands-on practitioners usually place their patients facedown while they treat them, however, a pregnant woman can’t and shouldn’t hold this position for long. Combined with the baby’s weight, this pulls the spine forward into an extreme arch, placing pressure on the discs and joints and irritating the nerves and muscles. For this reason in particular, traditional chiropractic, osteopathy and massage aren’t well suited to pregnant women.

Pregnant women would find it difficult to work through all of the major alternative therapies while pregnant. Exercise or stretches during the late stages of pregnancy are also difficult. As I mentioned previously, simply ‘holding’ a body upright is difficult and for pregnant women, this is even more true as their necks compensate for the lower back changes that occur with a growing belly. Doing any exercise on your back during pregnancy is not advisable because the weight of the uterus presses on the veins and arteries, which reduces blood flow from the legs back to the heart. Overheating the body through exercise also isn’t advisable as it can put stress on the baby, who doesn’t have the ability to cool itself down.

The practice of Optimal Foetal Positioning (OFP) is a series of exercises during which the mother follows certain steps to position her body to give the baby the best chance of settling into a position that will facilitate the easiest birth possible. Given that there are many, many variables that affect birth, giving both mother and baby the best chance possible via OFP makes sense – and making sure that the mother’s posture is as upright as possible will help too. The optimal position for a baby is rear facing and head downward. If the mother’s posture is already forward, as mentioned above, pregnancy will put further strain on her spine. A mother’s body will actively work with the baby by contracting uterine muscles to try to correct its positioning if at all possible. If there is a distortion in the mother’s posture, or her body is twisted in some way, this may affect positioning.

Speak to our team today and see if we may be able to help you – ph: 99720040


J.M. Fallon. Textbook on chiropractic & pregnancy. Arlington, VA: International Chiropractic Association; 1994: 52, 109.

Phillips C.J., Meyer J.J. Chiropractic care, including craniosacral therapy, during pregnancy: a static-group comparison of obstetric interventions during labor and delivery. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995;18(8):525– 529.

Fallon J.M. Chiropractic and pregnancy: a partnership for the future. ICA Int Rev Chiropr.1990;46(6):39–42.

Jones M. The value of routine manipulation in pregnancy. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1952;51:554– 557.

J Chiropr Med. 2007 Spring; 6(2): 70–74.
Fallon J.International Chiropractic Association. 1994-Arlington, Virginia.