How Chiropractic Care Can Help with Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Overall Spinal Health

Pregnant women can find relief from back pain and prepare their bodies for childbirth with chiropractic care. Chiropractors can also help babies latch during breastfeeding by removing any subluxations in their upper cervical spine.

May is National Women’s Health Observance Month. Let’s start by talking about pregnancy. What is the biggest benefit of receiving chiropractic care during all stages of pregnancy?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question, Liz. Chiropractic care for moms to be as they go through gestation is critically important and has so many benefits in regard to posture and how the moms are feeling and functioning during a pregnancy. Obviously, getting mom’s body ready to birth baby when obviously we’re at that time. There are so many cool things that come with treating pregnant moms in the practice, but if you jump on a website,, International Chiropractic Pediatric, there are a bunch of good research papers and case studies and articles on that that just has so many benefits for pregnant moms during pregnancy.

For example, put a couple of studies up that moms who are under chiropractic care during gestation on average, I’ll have to pull the exact stat up, but it’s around a two to four hour shorter labor time on average. Moms who are under chiropractic care compared to moms who aren’t have a much, much higher chance of following through on their birth plan, particularly a natural birth plan. Again, moms who are under chiropractic care during gestation have a lot less chance of intervention, that is Pitocin or epidural or emergency C-section during gestation. Chiropractic care really helps moms during gestation with obviously all the changes that come and then really prepares the body for the due date and obviously delivering a baby if you plan to have a natural birth especially. It’s load of cool stuff that pregnant moms receive during chiropractic care. It’s really cool treating pregnant moms in the practice.

Back pain is very common in pregnancy. How does chiropractic care help alleviate back pain in pregnant women?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question. Back pain could be lower back or upper back obviously as moms go through gestation and preparing to get ready for baby. Obviously, in regard to the breasts getting engorged and filled with milk ready to feed baby, that is obviously is increasing the weight of the upper body, which typically increases that curve in your upper back and rolls the shoulders forward. So obviously moms that are going through gestation can typically get quite a lot of upper back pain. Essentially when we’re in pain it shifts back to the spine. The spine can subluxate. Subluxation essentially means the joint is stuck and/or shifted. Subluxation creates stress on the nervous system, stress on the nervous system manifests as upper back pain or can manifest as conditions. In that area the nerves in your upper back can innervate the heart and lungs, they can innervate your esophagus, you can get reflux, indigestion, or heartburn for example. By getting adjusted you can get the joint back in alignment and essentially take stress off the nerve. The nerves not under stress are not going to be able to emit a pain signal, so less pain. Also, it improves the function of that joint to really help with reflux, indigestion, and heartburn.

When it comes to lower back pain, obviously the body’s going through a massive change, getting ready for a baby. A lot of progesterone is released which loosens up ligaments so then we can actually physically birth the baby. Typically, there is a lot of lower back pain obviously too as you grow the baby. You’re going to pull your spine forward, change the shape of your spine, plus ligaments that are loose aren’t going to keep you in alignment. Again, chiropractic adjustments can evaluate the pelvis, sacrum, and low back, make sure they’re in alignment, take stress off the nerve, and obviously get you out of pain. But remember all those nerves in your lower back don’t just innervate the low back in regard to making pain signals. And some nerves don’t have the ability to send pain signals.

All those nerves are vitally important in obviously feeding the reproductive organs to make sure they’re doing the job as we go through gestation, so obviously being adjusted takes stress off the nervous system so we feel good, but we also function good. And then sacral alignment and pelvic alignment is really important for allowing a baby to spin and get face and head down, getting ready for due date. If we’re misaligned in our pelvis and our lower back, we can have pain but also can actually create physical blockages where the baby’s unable to spin. There’s a specific technique you can perform where you’re evaluating pelvic, low back, tailbone alignment and you can do some soft tissue working around ligament and ligaments anchor that abdomen and the sacral pelvis together. We’ve had, this year alone, about half a dozen breech babies in the practice and we’ve followed through on chiropractic care and we managed to spin the baby around and moms have managed to follow through on their natural birth plan.

How does chiropractic care help a new mother become successful with breastfeeding?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question. Breastfeeding can be quite tricky for some babies and for some moms, particularly with the latching. Obviously, in order to latch the baby’s got to be able to rotate their head and then obviously latch onto the breast to feed. And a lot of the times babies struggle with the latching. It’s a mechanical issue, particularly in the upper cervical spine. You have seven bones in your neck and the first two bones, C1, C2, Cervical 1 and 2 is the atlas and axis, they rotate the head. 70% of rotation of your head comes from through those two bones. A baby fitting through the pelvic inlet, it’s quite a tight squeeze. In order to get through there, it can be quite arduous for the baby. Particularly if you’ve got intervention HVAC or forceps and it’s really difficult. We’re pulling on a baby’s head and the neck. That can create subluxations in the neck. Again, some subluxations are joints that out of alignment and not moving while some subluxations manifest as pain but also dysfunction.

Again, if the baby’s had quite an arduous delivery and those bones in their upper neck are subluxated, well the baby’s physically not going to be able to rotate their head very well, which can lead to issues with latching and obviously issues with breastfeeding. Chiropractic care is awesome for being able to evaluate cervical spine alignment and then getting those bones in alignment. By doing that, the baby’s going to be able to do what they intend to do, be able to rotate their head so they can rotate fully and latch and then obviously breastfeed efficiently.

Besides providing help with breastfeeding, what are some benefits of receiving chiropractic care during the postpartum months?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question. And then that can obviously be for mom and baby. We start with mom. Obviously, you’ve just spent nine months growing a baby and then the birthing process, regardless of if it’s a natural birth or a C-section birth, takes a massive amount out of the body. If you’ve got a C-section, you’re cutting through the abdominal wall, cutting through all the core muscles, so then they stitch you up and unfortunately follow up care for postpartum is not great, so then they’re like, “All right, you’re all set. No lifting for six weeks.” And then you can just get on with it. Well, your diaphragm’s not been working properly, your core muscles aren’t working properly. Then all of a sudden, moms are expected to function like they were pre-baby. And when you’re not getting the muscles engaging in supporting, that can create shifts in the spine, which can create pain and dysfunction and then obviously manifest to conditions, so painful irregular menses for example.

Chiropractic care postpartum can involve multiple types of treatment and typically our treatment in our practice is going to be involved in evaluation of the alignment, making sure the joints are in alignment, no stress on the nervous system or take care of any pain and/or dysfunction. And obviously make sure we are following up with some physical therapy too. Engaging, make sure we’re getting the diaphragm switched back on. Critically important for core stability, make sure we’re working on the pelvic floor to create stability in the pelvic floor, which is obviously going to follow through on good core stability, pelvic lower back stability, and then obviously incontinence, things of that nature that can come post birth.

Then with baby, again, having been a baby and going through the birth process is pretty stressful, so getting a baby checked out or getting their spine checked out after birth is critically important, particularly in that upper cervical region for mechanical issues or dysfunctions such as latching during breastfeeding or sensory dysfunction.

Those top two bones of your neck are under your brainstem, there is more nervous system activity there than anywhere else in your entire spine. And the vagal nerve runs through that, it controls homeostasis, so just make sure your baby gets checked out, the spine gets checked out, make sure it is in alignment, so then subluxations, misalignments don’t manifest as dysfunction. Typically, in babies it’s not pain, it’s dysfunction. Reflux, indigestion, constipation, inability to latch and feed, et cetera. Babies under  chiropractic care are going to do a lot better than the ones that aren’t.

What are some ways women can achieve good spinal health and maintain it?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Good spinal health, essentially motion is lotion. When we move, it does so much. 80% of stimulation in your brain comes from movement of the spine. It’s how the brain and the joints and the nerves communicate to one another. Obviously, when the joint is moving it is creating hormone proliferation. A good way to have good spinal health is to go see a chiropractor and get your spine adjusted. A spine that’s in alignment and moving is going to stimulate the brain, it’s going to stimulate the disc, which is super healthy or important. Obviously, they’re the shock absorbers of the spine. It’s going to make sure the joint is in alignment, there’s minimal stress on the nervous system and it’s going  to allow us to feel and function good. And obviously follow through on the rehab. Your chiropractor will provide you some basic spinal mobility. Taking the spine through its intended range of motion in each segment is just great to essentially stimulate the spine and have good spinal health.

So, motion is lotion. Make sure the spine is moving. Get adjusted. And by doing that you’re going to be in far better shape than someone who’s not getting adjusted or who’s super sedentary. And there’s a ton of micro-stress in their life that manifests as symptoms and conditions down the road.

If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.

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