It’s no secret that back pain and pregnancy often go hand in hand. During pregnancy, the body undergoes significant structural changes to accommodate the growing fetus. The weight load changes on the body during this time, both increasing and being held in different places. This can lead to spinal dysfunction, particularly in the motion segments of the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints. In addition, changes to other structures, organs and joints can cause referred pain and muscle spasms, and hormonal changes cause hypermobility in the pelvis, destabilizing the spine.
Apart from being unpleasant and in some cases debilitating for the pregnant person, low back pain may have an important relationship with other aspects of pregnancy. A retrospective chart study investigating the relationship between pregnancy and low back pain indicated that back pain, pregnancy, and labor are associated.
Evidence suggests a relationship between back pain throughout pregnancy and a longer duration of the labor and delivery process. 75% of pregnant patients who received chiropractic care during their pregnancies stated that they found relief from pain, and women who seek chiropractic care throughout gestation have an average of 25% shorter labor time. One case-control study even found a strong relationship between women receiving prenatal manipulative treatment and a reduction of the occurrence preterm delivery, use of forceps, and unplanned cesarean delivery.
Chiropractic may also help with back labor. “Back labor” refers to pain or contractions in the mother’s low back during labor. This may occur due to the baby being face up in the birth canal so that the back of the baby's skull is pushed against the mother's sacrum. Experiencing back labor is almost 3 times greater when back pain is experienced during pregnancy.
Given all of these positive outcomes, it’s easy to see why chiropractic care, especially for the pregnant population, has become more common, more accepted and more widespread in recent recent years. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly accessed alternative care practices by pregnant women, following massage and yoga. It’s remarkable that even in the modern era childbirth and pregnancy can be fraught with difficulties. Any therapies that may contribute to the safety and health of mother and baby during pregnancy and childbirth are worth researching.