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Biomechanical changes during pregnancy that can impact both the mother and baby

During pregnancy, a woman's center of gravity almost immediately begins to shift forward to the front of her pelvis. As the baby grows in size, the curvature of her lower back is increased, placing extra stress on the spinal discs and joints. In compensation, the normal curvature of the upper spine increases, as well.   While these changes sound dramatic, pregnancy hormones help loosen the ligaments attached to the pelvic bones. But even these natural changes designed to accommodate the growing baby can result in postural and biomechanical imbalances in the ligaments, muscles and joints.  These imbalances may not only lead to pain in the mother’s spine and pelvis but may also lead to intrauterine constraint. 

The woman’s pelvis supports her growing uterus with specific ligaments. When the pelvic bones are balanced, the uterus is able to enlarge symmetrically with the growing baby. If the bones of the pelvis are out of alignment or subluxated, this will directly affect the way the uterus will be supported. Unequal ligament support of the uterus will create tension in the uterus reducing the maximum amount of room for the developing baby. The term used to describe this is intrauterine constraint. In some cases, this constraint restricts the baby’s positions during pregnancy adversely affecting his/her developing spine and cranium. Such positions lead to longer more painful labors with increased medical interventions including c-sections in birth. 

The Webster Technique:  Definition, Application and Implications


Jeanne Ohm, D.C.  & Joel Alcantara, D.C.     
Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health - Chiropractic ~ Volume 2012 ~ Issue 2 ~ Pages 49-53 

Abstract

Background: Developed by Larry Webster DC [1945-1997] over 30 years ago, the Webster Technique has been observed clinically to be associated with improved pregnancy outcomes since that time. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) was founded by Webster to promote and defend the chiropractic care of children, pregnant women and general family wellness care through patient advocacy, post-graduate education and research. The ICPA is the oldest free-standing organization in the chiropractic profession to teach and certify chiropractors on the Webster Technique. 

Objective: To clarify the philosophical, theoretical and clinical framework of the Webster Technique by providing a historical perspective while clarifying its clinical utility in the context of caring for pregnant women.  A definition of the Webster Technique as promoted and taught by the ICPA is reviewed and the "hands-on" technique as originally taught by Webster is reviewed and described. 

Discussion: Due to the empirical observations that pregnant women under chiropractic care with breech fetal pregnancies were reporting correction of fetal position to vertex following the use of the Webster Technique, the technique was inappropriately described in its early days as a “breech turning technique” by both patients and some chiropractors. 

Conclusion: The ICPA holds that the Webster Technique is a specific assessment and diversified adjustment for all weight bearing individuals and is utilized to enhance neuro-biomechanics in that individual. The ICPA does not endorse the use of Webster’s as a treatment for fetal malposition or in-utero constraint.

Pregnancy & Chiropractic

Dr. Yeager has provided chiropractic care to pregnant women since 1996.  He utilizes chiropractic manipulation, massage therapy, nutrition, ergonomic advice and safe exercises and stretches throughout pregnancy allowing for healthier function of the mother and baby. The Webster technique is one technique utilized by Dr. Yeager for treatment of pregnant women.  See the article abstract below for more information regarding the Webster technique.

Why should I have chiropractic care during pregnancy?

Specific chiropractic techniques tailored to pregnant mothers create balance in the mother's pelvic bones and therefore reduce the possibility of intrauterine constraint. This can lead to an easier and safer delivery for both the mother and baby.  Chiropractic manipulation is safe for the pregnant woman and her baby and can be especially attractive to those who are trying to avoid medications in treating their back pain.

Before you become pregnant, Dr. Yeager can detect any imbalances in the pelvis or elsewhere in your body that could contribute to pregnancy discomfort or possible neuromusculoskeletal problems after childbirth.  Many pregnant women have found that chiropractic adjustments provide relief from the increased low-back pain brought on by pregnancy.  

Chiropractic care can also help after childbirth. In the eight weeks following labor and delivery, the ligaments that loosened during pregnancy begin to tighten up again. Ideally, joint problems brought on during pregnancy from improper lifting or reaching should be treated before the ligaments return to their pre-pregnancy state to prevent muscle tension, headaches, rib discomfort, spinal pain, pelvic pain and shoulder problems.