The Three P’s: Power, Passage, and Passenger

By Melissa Harlow D.C.

Published in The Birth Magazine Colorado Springs Edition 2. Dec. 2018. Pg. 5

As a chiropractor and mom, it is my hope that every mom has a chiropractor on her birth team. Labor may be the most athletic event of your life. Just like that marathon, it is important to find your support team and then train for it. So, what does chiropractic care have to do with pregnancy you ask? The goal of any birth provider is a safe and easy birth for mom and baby. Your body is amazing! If the birth process is not enough proof of that, I don’t know what is. Chiropractors respect the body’s natural design and work to support its natural function.

In obstetrics there are three primary reasons for difficult births or dystocia. The first reason is due to power. If there is abnormal uterine forces or inappropriate coordination this can cause problems with dilation or uterine contractions during labor. If mom is stressed and full of fear, she may present in a fight-or-flight pattern, more commonly known as a stress response. It is difficult to deliver a baby if you’re stressed out. The purpose of chiropractic is to reduce interference to the nervous system. When chiropractors deliver a chiropractic adjustment the nervous system is stimulated. With proper stimulation to the area of dysfunction, mom will be less stressed, and the nerve supply will be enhanced allowing for more efficient and powerful uterine contractions. Proper coordination and muscle involvement means progress!

Whether it is mom’s first or fourth baby, it is important to ensure normal structure of her spine. As labor and delivery approach, the structural shift and lack of motion can actually lead to a decreased space for baby to pass through. This explains the second reason for a difficult birth, passage. Moms may have misalignments in their pelvis which is a direct reflection of space for baby to grow and the birth canal. These misalignments can be from functional stressors during pregnancy including: weight gain, gait changes or the way one walks, and natural postural strains like a tilting pelvis. Chiropractic care then becomes crucial for optimum function. A gentle adjustment with the intent of restoring normal pelvic structure and motion will release tension and facilitate normal tone in the pelvic floor and uterus.

Lastly, let’s discuss that little passenger, the third reason for dystocia. Ideally, we want baby in proper position to have the ideal birth. Many factors go into optimal baby position, but it is simple to see how baby position can be affected by pelvic misalignment and the resulting tension of ligaments and smooth muscle. If these structures are balanced it offers room for baby to move and grow. Finding a chiropractor who specializes in The Webster Technique is key in this situation. The Webster Technique is a chiropractic technique that can be used on anyone but is particularly popular with pregnant women because it focuses on proper pelvic and sacral alignment. In my clinical experience, this specific chiropractic technique is very successful at addressing pelvic alignment and tension in the muscles and ligament. When this dysfunction is addressed it gives baby more room in the uterus which can affect baby positioning. This results in better baby comfort and a wider space for baby to pass through during delivery, which can help decrease birth trauma and need for intervention.

I hope this explains how chiropractic can fit into your birth plan. There are a growing number of parents seeking alternative and natural forms of health care and chiropractic during pregnancy is just the beginning. To change the world, we must first change the way babies are being born. Chiropractors are adjusting for better pelvic balance, better nervous system function, toward better birthing.