Do any reading about chiropractic treatment during pregnancy and the chances are you will have either read about or have seen videos posted on the internet about “The Webster Technique”. This blog post by Edinburgh chiropractor Vicky Pittman will concentrate on this technique, and provide an insight into what it is and how it works.
What is it?
“The Webster Technique is defined as a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment that reduces interference to the nerve system and facilitates biomechanical balance in pelvic structures, muscles and ligaments. This has been shown to reduce the effects of intrauterine constraint, allowing the baby to get into the best possible position for birth.” (Jeanne Ohm).
Theory:The Webster Technique essentially focuses on the biomechanics of the pregnant woman’s pelvis. The aim is to make pregnancy as pain free as possible and to minimise distress to birth mother and baby during and immediately after the delivery. Sacral restriction/misalignment can result in torsion/tension within specific pelvic ligaments and muscles which in turn may result in constraints within the uterus. This is thought to be one of the many reasons for a breech presentation. Application of the Webster technique helps improve these imbalances and thus increase the available room for the baby, as a result of this the unborn child is more likely to move around and engage into the correct position of head first.
Practice: Restriction/dysfunction within the pelvis is identified with the heel to buttock test, where a decrease in the available movement on one side indicates restriction within the sacroiliac joint on the same side The surrounding ligaments and musculature are also assessed via chiropractic palpation to identify any imbalances or tight structures. To improve the function of this joint an adjustment is made by the chiropractor with the patient either lying on their stomach and/or on their side. Soft tissue techniques are also utilised to help address any imbalances that were noted on assessment within the pelvic ligaments and/or musculature.
Does the Webster Technique turn breech babies?
No. Chiropractic treatment improves the biomechanics of the pelvis and surrounding ligaments and thus in turn may allow the foetus more room to move around and engage its head into the correct position. A more detailed explanation on the technique can be found on the International Chiropractic Paediatric Association website.
Is Chiropractic Care during pregnancy Safe?
Yes, in the majority of cases it is. In 2006 a case series study reported that 17 out of 17 chiropractic pregnant low back pain patients observed no adverse effects at all. Indeed 16 of these patients reported a clinically important decrease in their pain within 4.5 days of their initial treatment (1). There are however known contraindications for chiropractic care during pregnancy and these may include vaginal bleeding, ruptured amniotic membranes, cramping, sudden onset of pelvic pain, premature labor, placenta previa, placenta abruption, ectopic pregnancy, and moderate to severe toxaemia (2).
Is it stressful for the baby?
No, because the chiropractor does not make contact with the baby at all and thus the unborn child is unaffected by this mode of treatment.
Will one treatment fix the problem?
Not normally. The nature of the problem will determine how many treatments are required however most people will require 4 to 6 sessions to bring about and maintain the changes to the pelvis and surrounding connective tissues.
- Lisi A.J. Chiropractic spinal manipulation for low back pain of pregnancy: a retrospective case series.J Midwifery Women’s Health. 2006;51(1):e7–e10
- Shaw G. When to adjust: chiropractic and pregnancy. J Am Chiropr Assoc. 2003;40(11):8–16