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PREGNANCY AND THE CHIROPRACTIC ADVANTAGE
BY STEVE TROYANOVICH, D.C.
A situation in which (1) the medical community is improperly informed about the benefits of chiropractic care and (2) there exists a lack of communication between the members of organized medicine and the chiropractic profession has resulted in a diminished quality of health care for our mutual patients.
The common myth embraced and perpetuated by the obstetrical specialist is that chiropractic care holds no benefits for the pregnant patient and her unborn child. This misunderstanding and lack of communication have resulted in unnecessary suffering for many pregnant patients. Therefore, we will document the benefits of spinal adjustive procedures and other forms of manual care for the pregnant patient in the areas of back pain, labor and delivery.
In 1991, Diakow,et al.<1> published a retrospective study of 400 pregnancies in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. The study investigated the relationship between the presence of back pain during pregnancy and labor and the effects of chiropractic care on back pain and labor. The study found that back pain was experienced during 42.5% of the pregnancies and 44.7% of the labor periods. The findings also established a clear association between the presence of back pain during the course of the pregnancy and the likelihood of back pain during labor (back labor).
Of the 400 pregnancies, 37 patients received manual spinal adjustments for relief of symptoms. In this group, relief of back pain was reported by 84% of the women. No instances of adverse effects as a result of the care were reported, indicating the relative safety of the procedures. The researchers also reported a decreased likelihood of back labor in the group under chiropractic care, leading them to conclude: “If this effect can be confirmed by future study, one of the most severe aspects of labor pain may be prevented.” <1>
Fallon <2> reports that subjects who received chiropractic care from at least the tenth week of pregnancy through labor and delivery experienced mean labor times significantly reduced compared to controls. Primagravidae subjects receiving chiropractic care averaged 24 percent shorter labor times, and multiparous subjects receiving chiropractic care average 39 percent shorter labor times versus controls.
These findings suggest that chiropractic methods could play an important expanded role in prenatal care. A working relationship between medical obstetricians and experienced chiropractors could result in shorter labor times, decreased use of pain medications and increased quality of care for patients.
A cooperative effort is even more attractive when considering the relative safety of chiropractic care for musculoskeletal pain compared with medical alternatives, such as medications.
The risks to the mother and unborn child from the use of medications during pregnancy and labor are well-documented. However, the indexed literature fails to report even one adverse incident or accident due to the chiropractic care of pregnant females.
<1> Diakow, P., Gadsby, T., Gadsby, J., Gleddie, J., Leprich, D., And Scales, A., ?Back Pain During Pregnancy and Labor,? JMPT 14:2,116-118, 1991.
<2> Fallon, J., ?The Effecto of Chiropractic Treatment on Pregnancy and Labor: A Comprehensive Study, ? Proceedings of the World Ferations of Chiropractic, 1991, pp.24-31.