Chiropractic’s Role in a Healthy Pregnancy
Chiropractic’s Role in a Healthy Pregnancy
By Rebecca Koch
One of the questions Life University is asking, as we explore the ways in which Chiropractic can have the impact we need to re-Vital-ize the healthcare system, is this: Where is Chiropractic completely effective and far too underutilized? One of the first answers to that question was, of course, pregnancy and childbirth.
It doesn’t take long, when speaking with midwife and Atlanta Birth Center co-founder Anjili Aurora Hinman, to understand what natural partners Chiropractic and childbirth are. In fact, Hinman demonstrates a clearer understanding of how Chiropractic care can positively impact childbearing, even from before conception, than many chiropractors.
Her experience in becoming a midwife was not unlike that of many chiropractors who’ve discovered their future profession as adults. Hinman says:
“As for my background, I started off college thinking I was going to be a medical doctor. I knew I had an interest in working with women and children but I didn’t know whether I wanted to be a family doctor, an OB-GYN, or a pediatrician. The more I got into my prerequisites, the more I knew that being an MD wasn’t right for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life but I knew what I wanted was beyond what medical school had to offer me. I was a Women’s Health minor and I took a class taught by a nurse midwife. I didn’t even know what that was but as soon as she started talking about her career what she did on a day-to-day basis, I knew that is what I wanted to do. It became clear to me that midwifery is a calling – and I was called to do it. “
Indeed, many chiropractors will recognize this sense of being called to one’s profession in order to serve the processes designed by nature rather than focus on controlling them, often to the detriment of the process and patients. Just a short time after relating how she felt called to midwifery, Hinman is apologizing for choking up a little when she speaks about how honored she feels to be part of the birth experience for her clients. It’s something of an indictment of our society that women seem compelled to apologize for the tears that sometimes accompany strong feeling for them – because nothing Hinman says can speak more clearly about how much of her heart is in her work.
When asked about the impact of Chiropractic care during pregnancy, without hesitation Hinman says, “Oh, it’s huge! Even before the pregnancy, for fertility issues, Chiropractic is amazing. If you understand the concept of optimal wellness, you know the importance of the nervous system in the care of the whole person.” Hinman recommends Chiropractic care for all her patients, even though most of them have never had any experience with Chiropractic. She assures them that most chiropractors (and all the ones she recommends) have orientation sessions that explain the underlying philosophy and principles of Chiropractic as well as the exam, its findings, recommendations, and even what the adjustment is, in detail, before care begins.
Hinman recommends Chiropractic for women with fertility issues, explaining to them that it’s not just about getting the bones and ligaments into place, even though that’s enormously helpful; it’s about ensuring the nerve system is operating at full capacity. She tells her clients, “All the messages from our brains to the reproductive organs and controlling the hormones become clearer with Chiropractic care.” She goes on to say how many women in her practice have gone for years without being able to conceive but, within just a couple of months after getting under Chiropractic care, they find they’re pregnant. Hinman acknowledges these stories are anecdotal but emphasizes it’s something she sees consistently and finishes saying, “I think that says something.”
In pregnancy, Hinman sees the biomechanical as well as neurological impact of Chiropractic care. “Having the right Chiropractic support from the posture perspective is important and reduces hip pain, back pain and sciatica – all very common in pregnancy – in the mothers who stay under Chiropractic care. They report they sleep better and just feel better and simply don’t have the aches and pains that are typically associated with pregnancy. Pelvic girdle pain is really uncomfortable and debilitating for a lot of women and helping to prevent and then address it if it does occur is tremendously beneficial.”
After acknowledging all these biomechanical wonders Chiropractic care can have during pregnancy, still demonstrating her remarkable understanding of the neurological impact of Chiropractic, Hinman says,
“Without interference from subluxations, even the uterus is getting better information about the nutrition it needs and what it needs to do to grow a healthy baby. I tell women every day that Chiropractic not only impacts how they feel during pregnancy but how their labor goes. Everything from that hormone signaling – to release that oxytocin to start labor – which we think is instigated by something in the baby’s lungs telling the woman’s body it’s time to go into labor – to being able to sit optimally in the uterus so the baby’s journey to being born unfolds in the gentlest, most oxygenating and loving way possible”
Hinman goes on to describe even more benefits of Chiropractic care for both mother and baby: “I do see a difference between women who stay adjusted throughout their pregnancy and the length of their labor; I see less malpositioning, such as occiput posterior where the baby is sunny side up in the uterus, leading to long a dysfunctional labor.”
Hinman also sees fewer breech babies, something she attributes to having so many of her mothers under Chiropractic care. She says midwives can feel the position early on, at 30-32 weeks, and if they think the baby is in a breech position, they confirm it – and that’s when they will really stress Chiropractic care and the Webster technique (http://icpa4kids.com/about/webster_technique.htm), which is used to detect and correct sacral misalignment.
After relating her experience with both the biomechanical and neurological benefits of Chiropractic care before, during, and after childbirth, Hinman shares her thoughts on the emotional benefits she has observed Chiropractic have for mothers-to-be. She has seen that “women are able to connect more deeply with their own intuition and peace when they have regular access to Chiropractic. That’s my own personal feeling about what I’ve seen and I wish that was both more accessible and acceptable to women. I want to help open people’s eyes to what Chiropractic can do for women and their families – and I want to be part of helping them access that care. All these pieces need to be tuned to have the biggest impact – so that Chiropractic and natural childbirth that is respectful of nature’s design become associated – and so that both become more accessible and acceptable.”
In closing, the conversation turned to the lack of exposure American women have to real, natural childbirth since it’s always being played for dramatic effect in soap operas, movies, and episodic television shows because, in Hinman’s words, “Drama sells.” She also pointed out that the tide is turning in depictions of natural pregnancy and childbirth with shows like “Call the Midwife” on BBC. And, just like the media has a long way to go in accurately portraying the reality of childbirth and the true power of women to bear children without medical interventions, Chiropractic has a long way to go in supporting women in their power – and their right – to experience the wonder and wholeness of childbirth as the natural, beautiful experience that it is.
The partnership between the Life University, Vital LIFE Health Center and the Atlanta Birth Center will go a long way toward making Chiropractic both more accessible – and acceptable – as the natural complement to childbirth that it is.