- Samantha Leeson, CBEd, Doula, LS
Chiropractic and Acupuncture in Late Pregnancy
People who know me, who know what I like and don’t like, know that I don’t always run with the most “popular” beliefs. I tend to run against the grain, test the way things are done and ask multiple questions to see if there are better, less linear ways for events to transpire.
This is no less the case when I look at and discuss the birth process. I am more an advocate of “alternative” therapies than I am of allopathic medicine. This isn’t always the case with every single birth experience I encounter, but it is for the vast majority of them.
In the past, and on my personal blog, I have posted about using massage therapy and/or homeopathic remedy in pregnancy and during childbirth. While I have seen these techniques work beautifully for some of the moms I have worked with, I must admit that I have had more experience working with pregnant and labouring women who have had the opportunity to reap the benefits of acupuncture and chiropractic treatments.
I am lucky, at Think Chiropractic & Wellness Centre, to be able to witness how effective these modalities are for pregnancy, labour and post-birth. We work collaboratively with other local care providers to refer among ourselves so that our pregnant and new families receive the most complete and complimentary health care possible.
I initially wrote this article in 2009, when I was working full-time with expectant and new families and before I had moved to Burlington and had had the chance to begin my work with THINK. At the time of this writing I had been lucky enough to be in communication with Dr. Cynthia Chan, the co-owner of King West Chiropractic Health Centre in downtown Toronto, Canada. In the following few paragraphs she outlined how her chiropractic and acupuncture therapies work to the advantage of pregnant individuals.
In the first segment, Dr. Chan outlines how acupuncture can be used, how it worked well for her and how she used it (for herself) in conjunction with homeopathic remedies. Her comments about the use of chiropractic care follow.
Acupuncture & Pregnancy/Labour
Acupuncture can be utilized during pregnancy to reduce nausea and provide pain relief. There are certain acupuncture points to avoid when treating a pregnant patient, specifically Li4 (web of the thumb/index finger), Sp 6 (3 finger widths above the ankle), St. 36 (lateral knee), Du 20 (top of the head) and GB 21 (in the middle of the trapezius muscle). We avoid these points during pregnancy because they have the potential to induce labour. Some of the above listed points can be used effectively when a pregnant patient is beyond 40 weeks gestation and would like to induce labour naturally.
What to expect in during an acupuncture session: • She advises her patients to have a good breakfast before receiving acupuncture to avoid potential dizziness with low blood sugar. • The needles are very thin and only penetrate superficial skin and muscular tissue. If you are prone to bruising she usually applies Traumeel cream to the area after removing the needle. • The needles stay in for 15-20 minutes on average. • Depending on your comfort level and problem area her patients are supported with pillows so that they can be lying in a relaxed position for the entire treatment process. • There may be a gentle buzzing or heat sensation elicited by the acupuncture needle. Some people may also feel energy (Chi) moving through their body. That is a desirable response called De Chi.
**PLEASE NOTE: Drs. Kirk and Hayward do not offer acupuncture services within our clinic setting. Our resident Naturopath (Dr. Erika Ristok, ND) is the person with the skill set to provide this service for you. **
Her Birth story:
As mentioned above the same acupuncture points we try to avoid during pregnancy are very effective in trying to induce labour. I gave birth to my son Desmond on September 1, 2008. He was officially 5 days late when I woke up that morning to leaking amniotic fluid. My midwife advised me that if my body didn’t go into natural labour within 12-16 hours that I would need to be induced at the hospital. Since my husband and I were planning a home birth and I wanted to avoid medical induction if possible I started treating myself with the acupuncture points Li4 and Sp 6 on both hands and ankles in the early afternoon as well as taking certain homeopathic remedies. By mid-afternoon my water had really “broken” and there was meconium present in the aggressive amniotic flow. We moved quickly to the hospital to assess if the baby was in distress. Fortunately the fetal heart rate was strong however I still needed to be transferred to medical care at that point. They planned on starting the oxytocin drip at 6:30pm. My body began contractions around 6pm, which helped speed the labour process. Desmond was born at 11:32pm after approximately 5.5 hours of labour. I credit both the acupuncture and homeopathy that helped my body start the labour process.
Chiropractic During Pregnancy/Labour
Chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy are a safe and effective choice of health care. Some of the prime considerations for expectant patients receiving adjustments through the pregnancy are as follows:
1. Natural Pain Relief Your body will undergo many changes during the 40-week gestation period. There are hormonal changes affecting ligaments and subsequently joint movement. If you have suffered from joint pain in your neck, back or pelvis in the past then you may find that the same areas may feel more sensitive during pregnancy. Chiropractic adjustments can restore normal joint movement, relieve muscular discomfort and stimulate the nervous system to heal the area faster.
2. Shorter Labour Ensuring all the pelvic joints (pubic bone, sacro-iliac joints, lumbo-sacral junction) are moving properly is essential for a smooth labour. It is important that the mother’s pelvic outlet is unrestricted and as open as possible to allow smooth passage of the baby’s head and body. The hormones of pregnancy can allow our body to have physiologic changes more easily, both good and bad. Chiropractic adjustments correct subluxations in your low back and pelvis to create space to facilitate optimal foetal positioning.
3. Reduced chance of Breech Presentation Uterine constriction, which can lead to a breech presentation, is often caused by restriction in the round ligament and fixations in the sacro-iliac joints. Chiropractic care can address both of these issues thereby preventing a breech presentation. Also the Webster Chiropractic technique is an effective treatment for patients whose babies are already presenting in a breech position.
If you haven't ever had an opportunity to receive chiropractic care in the past (or naturopathy for that matter) then we encourage you to come in, even if only for a FREE 15-minute consultation with ANY of our care providers.