Chiropractic and the Perinatal Years

Dr. Harlan Sparer says chiropractic care can make the perinatal experience more pleasant and less stressful.



Chiropractic is helpful throughout the perinatal (weeks before and after birth) period. The proper alignment of the hips and low back affects the angle of the hips and thus can normalize a tipped uterus. The nerve supply to both the male and female genitalia originates from the lumbar and sacral nerves. Nerve impingement from an alignment issue, or subluxation, will alter the function of ligaments and muscles, as well as glandular function of both males and females. Many times, infertility or inability to carry a baby to term stems from this neurological issue.

As the woman becomes more gravid (heavy), the sheer weight of pregnancy can cause alignment issues with any part of the spine, causing everything from nausea and indigestion to local or radiating nerve pain. When the third trimester approaches, pregnant women secrete a hormone called relaxin. Its function is to enhance the ability of the pelvis and soft tissue to stretch in order to accommodate childbirth. However, the spine also becomes less stable as a result of ligamentous stretching. This increases the effect of trauma because the ligaments cannot do their job in the same manner, thus increasing the probability of subluxation.

Sometimes during pregnancy, the presentation of the baby can switch from head down (vertex) to feet or butt first (breech) or sideways (transverse). While the transverse lie cannot be delivered vaginally, the breech actually can be delivered by a skilled obstetrician or midwife. This is a mostly lost art, and most doctors opt for a Caesarian section. In some cases, a chiropractic adjustment can cause the baby to shift to vertex. The lumbar nerves and vertebrae are in close proximity to the gravid uterus, and nerve impingement by the fetal position can easily occur. Version is also possible by skilled, knowledgeable professionals. Having a chiropractor involved with this process is helpful.

The Caesarian rate for many OB/GYNs ranges between 30 and 50 percent or even higher. While lack of movement, fear, lack of knowledge, poor biomechanics, convenience and starvation of the laboring woman contribute to this, subluxation can completely arrest labor for neurological reasons. Calling in a chiropractor can remove the nerve impingement, starting or restoring labor to normal.

Labor is exactly that; hours of work in unusual positions affects the alignment of everyone present during labor, especially the mother. A newborn can experience neurological issues from its journey down the birth canal, particularly when things go wrong, that result in digestive issues such as colic or worse, and muscular function issues that manifest days, weeks or months later.

The next phenomenon occurs when the baby reaches the 20-pound mark. A squirming baby can be dramatically exhausting. Slinging the baby awkwardly on the hip or bending at the waist repeatedly inevitably takes its toll. This is often the cause of subluxation for sleep-deprived parents.

Chiropractic is an essential part of wellness throughout the perinatal period in order to make the experience more pleasant and less stressful. Locating a provider with adequate experience is the key to success.

Dr. Harlan Sparer is a Wholistic Non Force Chiropractor practicing Directional Non Force Technique Chiropractic in Tempe. He has decades of experience with the perinatal years and co-taught both childbirth education and VBAC classes. For more information, visit TempeNonForce.com.

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