Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery - Naturally

By Marie Hebert, D.C., D.I.C.C.P.

My desire to specialize in Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractic care began as early as Chiropractic school, when I
discovered that Chiropractic care is a natural, holistic approach to healthcare with a large focus on the
PREVENTION of dis-ease in the body.  With the knowledge that the first trauma to a person's body can occur at
birth, I became focused on the care of prenatal and pediatric patients so that correction and prevention could
occur as soon as possible, giving a baby the opportunity to express life to their highest potential.  Chiropractic
care and CranioSacral Therapy can play a major role in helping pregnant women with PHYSICAL and
EMOTIONAL issues that can occur during this magical, yet vulnerable time.  

When focusing on the PHYSICAL issues of a pregnant woman, there are three specific ways in which
Chiropractic care and CranioSacral Therapy can help.  First, they help provide adequate space in the pelvis for
the infant in-utero.  Second, they keep the nervous system functioning optimally, and third, they can help
address conditions that can occur during pregnancy.  

When first considering the goal of providing adequate space in the pelvis for baby in-utero, a chiropractor's
attention is focused on the importance of pelvic alignment for creating optimal space for baby.  When looking at
the design of a woman's body, we see that the uterus is anchored tightly into the bony pelvis by eight distinct
ligaments.  If these ligaments become unevenly anchored for any reason, it can be in a less than optimal position
for delivery to occur.  Usually, these ligamentous "imbalances" cause symptoms to occur to the woman, such as:  
low back pain, leg pain, upper thigh pain, even premature contractions.  Likewise, imbalances involving muscles
can also cause problems.  For example, if the piriformis muscles, which are located deep in the buttocks, are
tightened on both sides, a woman might complain of discomfort that feels like a band of pain across her entire
lower back.

Chiropractors are helpful during pregnancy because they are experts at restoring BALANCE to the bony
skeleton and normalizing tone of the muscles.  The most important reason for keeping the pelvis aligned is to
avoid in-utero constraint.  In-utero constraint means that baby doesn't have enough room in the uterus, causing
poor positioning.  A breech presentation is an example of in-utero constraint.  Chiropractors trained in the
Webster In-Utero Constraint Technique can correct imbalances in the woman's pelvis, allowing the baby to turn
in a noninvasive, nonpainful way.

Preventing in-utero constraint lends to a major reduction in the need for delivery procedures, such as the use of
forceps, vacuum distraction, the administration of a Cesarian Section and the use of pitocin.  These procedures
are considered "red flags" for possibly causing birth trauma to the newborn.  

Aligning the pelvis to prevent any of the above-mentioned traumas from occurring is one of the most important
contributions a chiropractor can make toward a healthy pregnancy.  We are essentially giving a new human
being the opportunity to come into the world without neurological compromise, which brings us to the second way
in which Chiropractic care and CranioSacral Therapy may help the pregnant woman.

Keeping the nervous system functioning optimally is the role of the chiropractor whether pregnant or not.   There
is a strong relationship between the body's structure and its function.  More simply, if something is not
structurally correct, the body's function will suffer because these structural problems, which are often
misalignments in the spine and pelvis, have profound effects on the nervous system.  It is the function of the
nervous system to control all tissues, organs, and systems in our body so if it isn't working optimally, the body
suffers in one or more ways.  Chiropractors adjust these misalignments in order to restore normal function to the
nervous system.  During pregnancy, at a time when tremendous physiological changes are occurring in every
system of a woman's body, we most certainly want the nervous system to function optimally.  Examining and
treating the pregnant woman during the first trimester is ideal for correcting and preventing any conditions that
can occur from these misalignments.

Finally, there are various pregnancy-related conditions that chiropractors often treat.  These conditions are most
commonly related to direct nerve compression in the areas of the shoulder, wrist, chest and pelvis.  A common
cause of these conditions is the hormonal changes that take place in pregnancy.  Relaxin and estrogen are two
hormones that are responsible for allowing the ligaments to become relaxed, which in turn allows nerves to be
compressed by surrounding soft tissues.  Another cause of these conditions is the sudden and concentrated
weight gain which ultimately causes a shift of gravity to the woman's body resulting in excessive compression to
nerve fibers.  Some examples of these nerve compressive conditions include:  brachial neuralgia: causing pain,
numbness and tingling in the pelvic region and/or the lower extremity, intercostal neuralgia: causing radiating
pain in the ribs, and carpal tunnel syndrome: causing radiating pain, numbness, tingling and often weakness in
the fingers and hand.  These and other neuralgias can respond very well to natural, noninvasive Chiropractic
care and CranioSacral Therapy.

Pregnant women are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of addressing EMOTIONAL issues during
pregnancy. Mothers-to-be want to achieve total mind/body wellness for themselves and their unborn child as
they come to understand how accessing and changing their thoughts can help them achieve an easier and more
natural labor and delivery.  

Labor and delivery is a spontaneous autonomic process.  The brain helps regulate labor according to messages
received from the body, which include the emotional responses of the laboring mother.  A mother's fears,
concerns, and expectations will influence her ability to cope with labor and will impact the normal flow and innate
physiological processes for herself and her unborn child.

During labor and birth, positive visualization, affirmations, and imagery techniques can be a powerful influence
and extremely helpful in creating a healthy birth.  However, during pregnancy it is quite normal to have thoughts
of fear, worry, anticipation, and anxiety while trying to prepare for the unknown outcome of labor and delivery.  
These negative thoughts and emotions will block the positive effects of visual and imagery techniques.  In fact,
too much maternal negativity or unexpressed emotions will slow down or halt labor and delivery.  A woman's
fears and unresolved emotions can be very difficult to release as they can be subconscious and are
"memorized" in her body all the way to the cellular level (cell memory).

A component of CranioSacral Therapy called
SomatoEmotional Release (SER) is a technique that can be very
effective in releasing these unresolved emotions from the woman's body and mind.  A CranioSacral Therapist
facilitates an SER process by engaging in an imaging and dialoguing technique that can guide the woman
through an otherwise challenging encounter with long-held emotions.  The woman doesn't need to analyze the
problem to release it.  Now, with a clear heart and head, her positive visual techniques can be effective.

Pregnancy and birth is a magical special time, yet an extremely challenging time for a woman to maintain a
healthy mind and body.  Every Mom-to-be deserves to know that Chiropractic care and CranioSacral Therapy
can play a major role in  helping her achieve a healthy mind, body...and ultimately a healthy baby!

References available upon request.

For more information please visit the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association's website at:
Deschutes Alternative Healthcare PC
Doctors Richard & Marie Hebert
Chiropractic Physicians
1425 NE Revere Avenue
Bend, Oregon 97701.
(541) 382-9595
The Best of Natural, Alternative Healthcare