Is Chiropractic Safe During Pregnancy?

Is Chiropractic Safe During Pregnancy?

One question we get a lot here at our Orlando chiropractic office is whether or not chiropractic is safe for pregnant patients. For a long time, we’ve been seeing a lot of pregnant patients. At any given time, some of the 5,300 patients that we’ve seen over the past 10 years will come in with a new pregnancy and back pain related to pregnancy. When I was looking through research related to this, I was interested to find that a lot of chiropractors say they don’t have much contact with pregnant patients, while we do.

For a long time, I was a chiropractor under a program called MomCare, which is the Florida state-run program for women who don’t have insurance and find out they’re pregnant. Their baby is put into state Medicaid so that they have benefits to make sure we get quality preterm care for pregnant women and babies. When I was a chiropractor in this program, we were getting all kinds of pregnant patients sent to us specifically for their back pain. I think we were the only chiropractor on MomCare here in Orange County for quite a while, which meant that we had anywhere between three and ten new pregnant patients per week.

For the record, I don’t have any additional training above my training during chiropractic school in treating this patient population, but I don’t think that you need specialty care to treat pregnant patients, at least according to the research. Approximately 50% of pregnant women experience back pain during pregnancy, and only 21% of pregnant patients report that low back pain to their OB/GYN as they’re going through it, making it relatively untreated. I think it may be the idea that back pain that comes along with pregnancy is normal and to be expected, and you’re supposed to just be tough and deal with it, isn’t true. Things can be done to help make sure that you don’t have back pain during pregnancy.

Chiropractors report that of the women who reported the pain and received chiropractic care, 72% of them benefited from that care, which are pretty good numbers. In another research article, they found that 31% of 950 pregnant women used alternative therapies during pregnancy, and chiropractic was the third most common form of treatment sought behind massage (which we also offer here), and then yoga. Acupuncture also falls right into that alternative therapy for reducing pain that’s safe during pregnancy.

What else is important about this besides just pain relief? Well, you get shorter labor times. One of these research studies reports that women who were in their first pregnancy ended up having 25% shorter labor time and women in their second or more pregnancy ended up having a 31% shorter labor time, just by being under chiropractic care during pregnancy. That’s amazing! That’s not just reducing your back pain during pregnancy, that’s reducing pain you’re going to experience that is often considered the worst pain of your life. That’s huge, in my opinion.

So is chiropractic care safe for pregnant patients? The tremendous overwhelming answer across the board is yes. There are some scenarios where it can become unsafe, including vaginal bleeding, ruptured amniotic membranes, cramping, sudden onset of pelvic pain, premature labor, and placenta previa, and ectopic pregnancy, but we always co-manage our cases with the OB/GYN. We are two blocks south of Winnie Palmer and Arnold Palmer Hospital and surrounded by OB/GYNs here, so we see a lot of these pregnant patients. If you know somebody who’s pregnant and experiencing low back pain, we’re happy to treat them. We can make a real difference, helping to reduce some of that low back pain during pregnancy as well as improving their labor and delivery times.

About Dr. Merrill

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Dr. Andrew Merrill is a passionate active clinician and owner of Nightlight Chiropractic Orlando where him and his team treat hundreds of patients each month. With a strong background in exercise science from Stetson University, clinical skills from Palmer College of Chiropractic, and continued postdoctoral training in spinal disc injuries and clinical nutrition, Dr. Merrill is very well versed in the healthcare landscape. With topics ranging from "what to do for common ailments" to "why the medical system is failing you" Dr. Merrill and this blog in particular aim to keep readers up to date on what the research shows and how you can put it into practice NOW to keep yourself healthy for a lifetime.