Many times I think that I am one of the first people to find out that a woman is pregnant. She will come into my office, and on her way to lying down on my table she will say "Oh by the way, I'm pregnant!" quickly to be followed by "Is it safe to be doing this?"

In the 15 years of practicing chiropractic, working with pregnant women has been one of my favorite areas of practice. It's because the results are fantastic. Not only at the end, when the new mom comes back in after giving birth to glowingly "show off" the newbie, but along the way the relief and results that the women realize.

Statistics show that 50% of pregnant women will suffer from low back pain during their pregnancy. With the suggested 25-35 pound weight gain and a growing fetus inside, it is of little surprise to anyone that it occurs. But only about one in three new mom's-to-be will seek out care for their low back pain. The number one treatment sought out is massage, followed by yoga, and then chiropractic with only a 6% utilization rate.

As the baby develops and the abdomen grows, there is increased stress placed on the pelvis and lumbar spine. The bladder, urethra, rectum, and other pelvic structures can be stretched or be under pressure, which can refer pain to the lower back or cause muscle spasms in the lower back. Later in the pregnancy as the abdomen is projected forward, the pelvis tips forward which increases the curve in the lumbar spine. With the increased curve there is extra stress placed on the disks and joints of the spine making them more susceptible to injury and generating pain.

During the third trimester, there are increasing amounts of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and relaxin circulating. The hormone relaxin has its primary action to soften the pelvic ligaments and the pubic symphysis to help the pelvis be more flexible during delivery. Unfortunately, while great during labor and delivery, this ligamentous looseness causes the pelvis and spine to be much more unstable and has the potential to misalign and be a likely cause of lower back pain.

The position of the fetus can also place direct pressure on the lumbo-sacral nerve roots causing pain and/or sciatica.

Risk factors which will predispose a pregnant women to have low back pain are a physically strenuous job, and a previous history of low back pain while not pregnant.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

84% of women who had chiropractic care during pregnancy had relief of low back pain.
It is completely drug free, which is always a major concern during pregnancy.
Chiropractic care may significantly decrease the incidence of "back labor." Back labor refers to the pain and discomfort that laboring women experience in their lower back. The relative risk of "back labor" was almost 3x greater if back pain was experienced during pregnancy
There may be a relationship of those who had low back pain during pregnancy and longer duration of the labor and delivery process. For those who recieved received chiropractic care for lower back pain, if it was their first birth they had 25% shorter labor times, and 31% shorter labor times for those who had had multiple births.
Safety of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

There are a few contraindications to chiropractic care during pregnancy, and they are serious issues to begin with. Bleeding, ruptured amniotic membranes, severe cramping, placenta previa, placenta abruption are reasons to stay away from the chiropractors office.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help

As stated earlier, 84% of women who sought out chiropractic had relief from their lower back pain. Chiropractors are highly trained to help reduce muscle tightness and spasm, and to help correct misalignment's or fixations in the spine and pelvis of the pregnant patient.

Author's Bio: 

Todd Wegerski D.C. has been in private practice in Cary NC for over 16 years. He is a graduate of New York Chiropractic College, and has been licensed since 2000 in acupuncture. In his practice he treats people of all ages, from newborns to seniors. His focus is on self-care, teaching his patients to improve their health through exercise.

You can check out his full bio at