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Chiropractic, Massage, and Acupuncture During Pregnancy and Birth

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From almost minute one, the changes to your body during pregnancy can begin making you ache, puke, or limp. For the baby’s sake, many women will put aside therapeutic treatments they normally use for backaches, migraines, or just feeling relaxed. When we don’t know if chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture during pregnancy is safe, we trade our comfort for safety. But why?

Often, women worry that the muscle or joint pain they feel means there’s something wrong with their baby when it’s really just the demands of pregnancy on their bodies. Fortunately, research[1],[2],[3] shows that manual therapies done by trained practitioners are good for body, baby, and easing mama’s mind.

Your birth plan can even include some of these. Just as you ask about your other questions or birth preferences, consult with your care provider about using these common and safe manual therapies to counteract changes during pregnancy. If you’re going to the hospital for your birth, ask ahead of time if there are rules against using your favorite therapy during labor. If your birth plan is written for a birthing center or home birth, you have a lot of freedom to include these alternative therapies during the birth of your child.

If you want to use manual therapy, make sure the final version of your birth plan (the one on your hospital bag checklist) includes mention of it.


Chiropractors are trained to work with women to achieve fertility and for pregnancy health. Some will get additional training in prenatal and postnatal treatments. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy.”

Pregnancy creates imbalances in your skeleton, specifically to your pelvis that loosens and spreads to accommodate your baby’s growing body. Your center of gravity changes as pregnancy progresses. This often means your back is arched, your lower back aches and your hips might be out of whack. Many of us want to avoid using chemicals and medications, so we struggle through the increasing discomfort.

Fortunately, chiropractic is a safe and effective solution to the lower back pain 50%-80% of pregnant women[4] experience. It is, in fact, important to see a chiropractor if your hips are out of alignment. This helps ensure the passage your child comes through during birth is not compromised. Plus, your chiropractor can help guide you with exercises, nutrition, and ergonomic suggestions that could help you feel better and more energized. Or the opposite – it could help you sleep better because you’re more comfortable.

Once baby is here, chiropractic adjustments can help put you back together again after pregnancy and delivery asked your bones, ligaments, and muscles to stretch to the max.



Massage manipulates your muscles, which then helps your joints relax and feel better. Aren’t you glad to know that the massage you loved before you got pregnant can also help you as you adjust to pregnancy’s pulling on your stomach, back, pelvis, and neck?

According to the National Institutes of Health[5], “Massage therapy and chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, are highly safe and effective evidence-based options for pregnant women suffering from mechanical low back and pelvic pain.”

Most massage schools train therapists in prenatal massage. But it’s always good to check before you go. Ask your favorite massage therapist if they have the training to safely work with you during pregnancy.

Massage is also the easiest therapy to use during labor.




For those of us who love needles, we can rest easy knowing that acupuncture is another alternative therapy we can still enjoy while baby’s still growing within us. According to licensed acupuncturist, Laura Erlich, many pregnancy issues can be treated with this manual therapy:

  • Threatened miscarriage
  • Nausea and vomiting (“Morning sickness”)
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Migraine
  • Back pain, pelvic pain, sciatica
  • Swelling/ edema
  • Leg cramps
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Premature labour
  • Breech presentation
  • Labour induction

Women experiencing pain during pregnancy can also have anxiety that then creates more difficulties. Research shows their babies do, too. Knowing your baby is safe while you receive a chiropractic, massage, or acupuncture treatment doubles the pleasure, and the benefits!

[4] Adverse events from spinal manipulation in the pregnant and postpartum periods: a critical review of the literature. Stuber KJ, Wynd S, Weis CA Chiropr Man Therap. 2012 Mar 28; 20():8.

To learn more about being comfortable during pregnancy, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.

This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.

Published: March 20, 2016|By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula |  Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert, Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM, L.Ac., Midwife | Last reviewed: March, 2016


Sabriga TurgonChiropractic, Massage, and Acupuncture During Pregnancy and Birth

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