Pregnancy can be an incredibly beautiful and exciting time in your life, yet it is never without natural fears and potential complications. Whether your pregnancy has been deemed a low- or high-risk, you may be afraid of or be experiencing your baby being abnormally positioned (a transverse, oblique or breech) near the end of term. If you also hope to experience a natural or limited intervention birth plan, these fears may be exasperated if your doctor suggests the need for a Cesarean or external cephalic version if your baby does not naturally move to the head down position.
First Step Family Wellness, in Kirkwood, understands the emotional toll that such fears and potential decisions can create, and it is our goal to make sure that every mother-to-be is equipped with the best knowledge and understanding of what options are available to reduce the need for a surgical birth. The Webster Technique has become a valuable chiropractic option for mothers throughout pregnancy, to improve fetal movement and optimal nervous system functioning that naturally increases the likelihood that the baby will reposition itself head down for delivery.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, 1 out of 25 full-term pregnancies result in breech births. While the consistent cause of the occurrence is unknown, physiological misalignment and imbalance from multiple or subsequent pregnancies, excessive amniotic fluid, placenta previa, or abnormalities within the uterus are believed to be some of the most common culprits.
In addition, spinal and pelvic alignment is dependent upon the effects of pregnancy hormones, such as Relaxin, that both benefit and place strain on the woman’s body. Relaxin encourages the pelvic area and corresponding ligaments to relax, as to support the growing abdominal region. Yet, this same support also encourages the bones to shift and the lumbar region (lower spine) to obtain a curvature as the size and weight of the abdomen increases, which creates both instability and misalignment.
Not only does such increase the mother’s pain and discomfort during pregnancy and the birthing process, if not treated, such may also affect the communication process between the mother’s body and the baby’s instinct that tells that it is “time to turn” prior to labor. While there are no studies that inform us as to whether poor spinal and pelvic alignment in the mother directly affects the baby’s innate programming of when to turn to an optimal position, such can be hypothesized due to the strong success rate of chiropractic care during pregnancy that have led to vaginal births even after the complication of breech or transverse presentation.
Why are traditionally invasive surgical procedures risky?
Even with the vast improvements in healthcare since information about how to have a healthy delivery began surfacing throughout the 1970s, medical studies have regularly shown that the rate of cesarean deliveries has increased by 25% and the use of epidurals occurs in almost 3 out of 4 deliveries. Others argue that it is possible for cesarean rates to only be as high as 4% to 8%, and yet the medical community continues to push for more risky and invasive surgical options even when a natural birth is still entirely possible.
It is complications, like that of a baby in transverse, oblique or breech positioning (or head-up) by weeks 36 or 37 in the third-trimester, that often immediately move doctors to opt for quick, complicated and higher-risk medical options without providing the to-be mother with other potential and less-threatening options.
Often the first option suggested is the attempt of an external cephalic version, unless the pregnancy is believed to be high-risk due to medical concerns or a multiple pregnancy. An external cephalic version involves medication to relax the uterus and the doctor manually turning the baby from a breech or transverse position to the more optimal head-down (vertex) position prior to the beginning stages of labor to encourage a vaginal birth. Even for low-risk pregnancies, such a procedure can bring on numerous complications for both the mother and baby, and only has a 58% success rate. Serious complications can include abruption of the placenta, vaginal bleeding, premature labor, or stillbirth.
If the external cephalic version is not an option or you choose the “let’s wait and see” option, there could still be a chance that the baby will not naturally turn itself around to the head-down position. If no alternative treatment is attempted by the time labor begins, it is very likely that your doctor will call for a surgical birth unless certain conditions apply. Fairly recent studies by the ACTA Obstetricia et Gynecologica and the Term Breech Trial (TBT) Collaborative Group show that in the United States, over 87% of breech deliveries are done by C-section compared to vaginal delivery. While most tend to be successful, women who receive cesareans also face a longer healing process, a higher chance of postpartum depression (particularly if surgical intervention could have been prevented), and a greater chance of health complications. Furthermore, babies born via c-section are more likely to present with immune challenges and plagiocephaly from not passing through the birth canal.
The Webster Technique was first developed by Dr. Larry Webster as a natural way to reduce the amount of stress on a pregnant woman’s pelvis, which directly supports the uterus and neighboring ligaments.
More specifically, this specialized non-invasive and gentle chiropractic adjustment technique gradually realigns the sacrum, soft tissues, and ligaments that support the mother’s abdomen so that less constraint and twisting occur. While the mother may start to feel some physical relief after the initial visit, it is over the course of several treatments throughout several weeks that will truly improve the baby’s ability to move freely within the uterus and, hopefully, naturally turn itself to a head-down position.
While chiropractic care is encouraged throughout a woman’s entire pregnancy to ensure her body remains balanced to reduce potential complications, the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics recommends that the technique be utilized particularly in the 8th month of pregnancy, which has shown over an 82% success rate.
To learn more about how you and your baby could benefit from The Webster Technique, stop by 1st Step Family Wellness today in Saint Louis, Missouri. Our very own doctors Jeanne Sandheinrich and Jana Flora are Webster Technique Certified chiropractors and they are always happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your pregnancy, nutrition, exercise, and spinal health.