I am pleased to welcome my first guest blogger - Dr. Sharonrose Samelak, from Seed Of Life Chiropractic and Wellness, LLC. Her practice focuses on prenatal, postnatal and pediatric chiropractic care. In this blog, she graciously takes some time to share useful information regarding prenatal chiropractic care, the Webster technique and how it can help a woman not just during pregnancy, but also postpartum.
Prenatal Chiropractic, The Webster Technique, and the 4th Trimester
Many healthcare providers are now recommending prenatal chiropractic care for their clients. From the moment of conception, the pregnant person’s body begins to change to accommodate the new life growing within. Most of this is driven by hormones. Progesterone helps to, “prepare a supportive environment in the (your) uterus for a fertilized egg” . Estrogen levels change to help the uterus grow, regulate other hormones, among other tasks . Relaxin is a hormone that primarily targets the ligaments of the pelvis  and helps to allow them to become stretchy enough for childbirth. As the ligaments of the pelvis become more relaxed, imbalance becomes more prevalent and can result in low back pain, hip pain, groin pain, and pubic symphysis dysfunction.
This is where the Doctor of Chiropractic steps in.
By gently correcting imbalance in the low back and pelvis, many of these issues resolve. Prenatal chiropractors have taken additional courses that focus on these specific issues and how to address the changing bio-mechanics, not just of the pelvis, but of the whole spine. A literature review in 2007 concluded that, “chiropractic evaluation and treatment during pregnancy may be considered a safe and effective means of treating common musculoskeletal symptoms that affect pregnant patients” .
As pregnancy progresses the center of gravity for the pregnant person shifts, causing forward head carriage. This may be accompanied by headaches and upper back tension or pain. As the ribs expand to accommodate the growing fetus, mid back pain and rib pain can occur.
By caring for the spine and musculoskeletal system of the pregnant person, the chiropractor is able to create more ease in pregnancy and improve overall comfort. It may even help improve labor. Statistically, first time moms who saw a chiropractor throughout pregnancy had, on average, 25% shorter labor times where multiparous women saw 31% shorter labor times.
The Webster Technique:
Prenatal chiropractors are also trained and certified in the Webster Technique. The Webster Technique helps to address, not only the sacrum (tailbone), but create balance in the soft tissues of the pelvis. According to Dr. Jeanne Ohm, an instructor of the Webster Technique, it is, “a specific sacral adjustment to help facilitate the mother’s pelvic alignment and nerve system function. This, in turn, balances pelvic muscles and ligaments, reduces torsion to the uterus, and offers a greater potential for optimal fetal positioning” . When performed, the technique uses only a few ounces of pressure.
Most women who are referred to a Webster certified chiropractor are concerned about the positioning of the fetus (breech, transverse, etc). When there is torque in the pelvis and its ligaments, the uterus can also experience torque sometimes referred to as intrauterine constraint. It is important to understand that the Webster Technique is not an obstetric procedure. The Doctor of Chiropractic does not turn babies. That procedure is known as external cephalic version and is performed by an Obstetrician. The Webster technique balances the pelvis, giving the fetus the opportunity to move into an optimal vertex position on its own.
In her book, Natural Pregnancy, Lauren Feder, MD reports, “Chiropractic preventative care is recommended during pregnancy, as it is known for easing delivery. The Webster technique relaxes the pelvic structures and ligaments in pregnant women with a success rate of 82%” in resolving breech presentation .
The Fourth Trimester:
Following delivery, in the time known as the “Fourth Trimester”, it is advised that new mothers continue chiropractic care. Many women experience persistent pelvic or spinal discomfort following delivery. One 2002 study evaluated the likelihood of continued asymmetrical laxity in the joints of the pelvis resulting in pain in the postpartum period. This study noted that, “women with moderate to severe pregnancy-related pelvic pain and asymmetric laxity of the sacroiliac joints during pregnancy have a threefold higher risk of moderate to severe pregnancy-related pain postpartum than subjects with symmetric laxity” . This suggests that women who experienced pelvic pain during pregnancy may experience pain in the postpartum period.
Postpartum chiropractic care can also aid in the relief of neck and upper back pain that is often brought on by nursing and carrying the infant while the core mu