The resounding answer is yes! In my previous article Chiropractic Care to Relieve Pregnancy Back Pain I examined the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy as it related to pain management. I would now like to take a look at the benefits that chiropractic care during pregnancy can have on a woman's labor.
Time of Labor
The body's balance and ability to function properly can have a huge impact on its capacity to adapt to extra stresses placed upon it. The most common cause of Cesarean in the United States is "failure to progress". Any misalignment in the pelvic outlet could be a cause of slower descent of the fetus through the birth canal. Back pain could also decrease a mother's rang of motion making it more difficult for her to assume the upright, active positions that have been proven to make labor more efficient. Proper adjustments can make sure that the hips and pelvis are in proper alignment.
A study by Dr. Fallon in 1994 showed that "chiropractic adjustments effectively reduce the average amount of time spent in labor." The data she collected showed almost 25% reduction from the accepted average labor times in first time mothers who had regular chiropractic care during pregnancy, and 33% reduction from the norm in woman who had previously given birth.
There is another aspect beyond just length of labor to consider. Another huge factor in labor progress and even pain levels is the proper positioning of the fetus. It has long been accepted that a breech baby (a baby presenting foot or buttock first instead of head first) is more difficult to deliver, often resulting in a Cesarean. It is also known that a posterior baby (a baby who, while head down, is facing forwards rather than face towards the mother's spine) creates the most painful labor conditions.
One of the biggest benefits to regular chiropractic care during pregnancy is that a properly balanced and open pelvis allows more room for the fetus to turn into a proper position to ease labor. In fact, many chiropractors have additional, specialized training in a technique to encourage a breech baby to turn called Webster's technique. According to the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics there is an 82% success rate in turning breech babies using the Webster's technique (July/August 2002). Another study showed that regular chiropractic care also reduces the chances of posterior labor, sometimes called back labor (Diakow, 1991).
Tamie Dixon, doctor of Chiropractic and West Virginia State Coordinator wrote, "Pelvic bone adjustments have been found to stimulate part-due labors and non-progressive labors that are stalled due to pelvic outlet disproportion." I know this one from personal experience. With my daughter's birth, my second baby, I experienced off-and-on-again labor for a two days. I called my chiropractor at home the next morning and asked if he could come by on his way to the office and he came to my house. I received an adjustment at 7:30 and he left, and from then on my contractions really picked up. Brianna Joy was born at 12:15 after just a few hours! My labor never stalled or slowed down again.
Dr. Sears wrote in Parenting magazine "It is our personal theory that chiropractic care in pregnancy can help to avoid or relieve back pain and also prepare your back and pelvic structures for the stresses of labor and birth." And I have to agree with him.