Q&A with Dr. Jenn Cournoyer on Pregnancy & Chiropractic Care


For women who are trying to conceive, are pregnant, or are post-partum, chiropractic care can be a great treatment modality to help them realign their bodies for ideal internal communication and to aid in the growth and development of a healthy baby.

Read below for a Q & A discussion with Dr. Jenn about why chiropractic care can be an essential pregnancy care tool. 


Q: Why do many women seek chiropractic care during pregnancy? And how can this modality help them?

A: Many women seek out chiropractic care during pregnancy because they are experiencing increased pain, morning sickness, or they are just more tired and chiropractic has been recommended. During pregnancy, women may be drawn to chiropractic care because they are limited in their ability to respond to pain with medication because of medical recommendations and a desire to do what is best for the baby.

Because so many changes are taking place in their bodies during pregnancy, many women experience discomfort or pain in their hips, back, ribs, and pelvis, to name a few.  Chiropractic adjustments can be effective in treating this pain. Many pregnant women who have come to me for treatment are surprised by how quickly an adjustment can help ease their discomfort, often when nothing else has helped.

Like many of my non-pregnant patients, pregnant women under chiropractic care may find chiropractic can help with symptoms like fatigue or nausea. Often, they report they are sleeping better or having more have more energy.


Q: What happens in the body during pregnancy to cause pain, discomfort, and misalignment, and other concerns that chiropractic care commonly treats?

A: During pregnancy, the body releases a number of hormones to aid in fetal growth and development and help the woman’s body adapt to pregnancy. One of those hormones is relaxin, which helps relax various ligaments, tendons, and joints in a woman’s body to allow the uterus to expand and space for the baby to grow.

Relaxin is a critical component in helping a woman’s body make the changes that are essential for a healthy pregnancy and delivery, including the shifting of the pelvis to accommodate the growing baby and later to allow for delivery.

Shifts in the alignment and tension in the hips, ribs, pelvis, and spine cause many women mild to severe discomfort or pain during pregnancy. Depending on a woman’s activity level, strength, and pregnancy experience, the hypermobility of joints and the tendency of bones to shift easily can result in misalignments that cause pain but are often responsive to chiropractic care.


Q: Why is the pelvis a particular focus of chiropractic care during pregnancy?

A: As a woman gets further along in pregnancy, the focus of chiropractic care often shifts towards the pelvis. As the baby gets bigger and bigger, the space she/he has in the uterus becomes more crowded. The alignment of the pelvis become increasingly important to maximize the space the uterus has to expand into and to prepare the woman and baby for delivery.

One of the ways you can think about the how uterus expands during pregnancy and the importance of alignment of the pelvis is to picture a big balloon. If you hold one end of the balloon in each hand and move your hands in the opposite directions, the balloon will start to twist and torque. The area can get smaller as the balloon changes shape. This is also what can happen to a woman’s uterus when the pelvis is not properly aligned.

Poor alignment of the pelvis can limit the ability of a growing baby to move as easily and freely and can also lead to complications and difficulties in labor and delivery. When the pelvis is well aligned, it becomes easier for the baby to readily move into the ideal position for delivery, which can help provide a smoother delivery.


Q: Are their specific techniques used for chiropractic care during pregnancy?

A: Yes, one technique that is commonly used is called the Webster technique and was developed by Larry Webster, D.C., founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. This technique focuses on the alignment of the pelvis and using shifts in the pelvis to open up space for the baby to be able to change positions, including to help the baby move into the ideal position for birth.

The Webster technique involves a specific type of chiropractic analysis and adjustment, which is focused on improving the alignment and function of the pelvis to reduce effects of sacral subluxation/ SI joint dysfunction. The Webster technique may be used to treat low back pain, sciatica, pain in the S/I joint, and other symptoms associated with sacral subluxation and/ or S/I joint dysfunction, which are common in pregnancy.

According to one study cited by the American Pregnancy Association, the Webster technique exceeded an 80% success rate in helping to turn babies vertex to prepare for delivery when used later in pregnancy. (Dr. Webster himself never talked about turning babies. The Webster technique allows the body, and more specifically the pelvis and uterus, to be in an ideal state so the baby has an ideal environment to change positions, including to be in the optimal position for delivery. His technique today focuses on this, and not turning babies.)


Q: Do you have specific training in caring for pregnant women?

A: Yes, I have completed a 180-hour training course in chiropractic care for pregnant women and children with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. I am also trained in using the Webster technique, which was developed specifically for use during pregnancy.


Q: What is your approach with women who are newly pregnant, or part of the way through a pregnancy, and are curious if chiropractic care is the right fit for them?

A: I have had a number of people come to me, who are interested but nervous about starting chiropractic care. Often, I find it helpful to start by having a conversation with them first to explain my approach and technique. I am also happy to have people come and observe me working with clients, who are willing to be observed.

Many people, particularly pregnant women, find the gentle techniques I use to be relaxing and less intimidating. I also make a point of explaining what I am doing to new practice members so they can understand the treatment and feel comfortable on my table.

Although many chiropractors who use higher force techniques also achieve excellent results, I find many of my clients are drawn to my low force approach because they don’t have to brace themselves for an adjustment or worry or wonder if it will hurt them or their baby. For all my practice members, but particularly for pregnant women, I want them to feel relaxed when I am adjusting them. My goal is always to use as little force as possible in my adjustments to remove subluxations so the body can function at a higher level for optimal results.


Q: Do you recommend chiropractic care to couples that are trying to conceive? If so, why?

A: Yes, I highly recommend chiropractic care to couples who are trying to conceive, particularly those who may be struggling to get pregnant or to carry a pregnancy to term. The foundation of chiropractic is built on using techniques to align the spine as a way of helping the body function at its optimal level.

When the body is communicating well and functioning at an optimal level, pregnancy may be more likely or more successful for a couple. For some couples, there are clear medical indications of lower fertility, which chiropractic care may or may not be able to help. But for many couples that are struggling to conceive, there may be no ready explanation for why they are having trouble getting pregnant or continuing a pregnancy.

Chiropractic care offers a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical option for people to help maximize their body’s internal alignment thru gentle adjustments, cope with the stress of fertility struggles, and increase the level of communication through out  the nervous system so the body can self-heal and self-regulate, which can lead to the desired result of a healthy pregnancy and delivery.


For more information and to speak to Dr. Jenn Cournoyer, please visit her website at www.drjennasheville.com and schedule a free consultation thru her online scheduling system.