May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.And on the second Sunday of the month, we celebrate mothers – those who brought us into the world, nurtured us, protected us and helped us make sense of it all.
As chiropractors, we're in a unique position to give back to those who give so much. As we know, chiropractic offers powerful, natural treatments for many of the health challenges unique to mothers and women at every stage of life. And what better way to reach more people than by making a difference in the lives of women?
When it comes to health care decisions for the family unit, we know the mother rises to the natural role of leader. Research proves what we intrinsically know to be true: The U.S. Department of Labor reported in 2013 that women make approximately 80 percent of health care decisions for their families.1
By caring for women and moms, particularly by attuning ourselves to their unique challenges and needs, we're doing the right thing for our practices, our patients and our profession.
Chiropractic for Moms-to-Be
Pregnancy should be a joyful time, full of wonder and excitement. Yet many women suffer from unpleasant symptoms and, especially for first-time moms-to-be, anxiety about what will happen on the "big day" when baby at last arrives. Your care can help alleviate both physical symptoms and stress. As we know, chiropractic can help by controlling nausea,2 relieving back pain,3 and helping to establish pelvic balance and alignment.4
We know how important pelvic alignment is; for pregnant women, it is even more important. A misaligned pelvis may reduce the room a growing baby needs and can lead to dystocia (difficult labor) or breech birth.5 Your care plan also might include at-home strengthening and stretching exercises for the spine and pelvis, which can also help increase her chances of experiencing a safe, natural birth and avoiding the surgical table.
Chiropractic for New Moms (and Their Families): Lifetime Care and Wellness
Birth is a traumatic event for the body (gentlemen, just ask your wives!), and can seriously impact a woman's spinal and pelvic biomechanics. Lifting, holding, rocking and nursing a baby, carrying a car seat with an infant, etc. – these are taxing movements that can further invite bodily stress and pain. You can help restore strength and function with manipulation, exercises and stretches, and teaching new moms healthier positions and lifting techniques can make a world of difference for their comfort and well-being.6
New moms will also value your nutrition recommendations for returning to a healthy, pre-baby weight in the weeks and months after birth. Remember, we are not just treating mom, but the heart of the family. And we're all in this together.
Once you build trust with mom, she's also more likely to bring her family members to you, including her newborn. In her 2012 paper, "Efficacy of Chiropractic Manual Therapy on Infant Colic," Dr. Joyce Miller found that crying time decreased by up to 51 percent in the chiropractic treatment group.7 Imagine what a breakthrough that could be for new parents!
Chiropractic Care for Every Stage of Her Life
We know chiropractic care has been shown to help with many of the other problems commonly suffered by women, including menstrual period pain (dysmenorrhea),8 premenstrual syndrome (PMS),9-11 chronic headaches,12 and problems associated with aging (osteoarthritis,13-15 rheumatoid arthritis,16 menopause symptoms,17-18 etc.). Remember, doctor, you can – and should be – your female patients' first line of defense. Here are a few ideas to help you serve more mothers, women and families in your community:
- Reach out to OB-GYNs and midwives in your community to let them know of your services and your interest in working together. Make it a goal: Take an OB-GYN to lunch every two weeks.
- Pump up your marketing of mom- and women-focused services. The calendar helps us with special holidays such as International Women's Day (March), Mother's Day (May) and Breast Cancer Awareness (October). Make sure you're part of the conversation already going on in your community.
- Some doctors offer discounts to immediate family members of current female patients (husbands, partners, children) in an effort to help mom and the family.
- Participate in or sponsor community events marketed toward women and mothers.
- Make your waiting room a child-friendly environment.
In addition to the above ideas, it's always a good idea to continue your education and stay atop the latest advancements in technique. Here are a few ways to improve your skills with regard to caring for pregnant women (and children):
- DACCP: diplomate with the ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association), reflecting the highest level of advanced training in caring for pregnant women and children
- CACCP: certification with the ICPA, reflecting advanced training in caring for pregnant women and children
- Member of ICPA, reflecting special interest in caring for pregnant women and children
Chiropractic treatment and wellness programs offer a wealth of benefits for women, whether they're pregnant, new mothers, or simply trying to lead healthier lives through weight loss, stress reduction, or protecting and strengthening their bones, nerves, joints and muscles. You can make a difference for mothers, their partners and children to create lifelong relationships with the whole family. Mothers and their families need chiropractic. Let that chiropractor be you.
- Fact Sheet: General Facts on Women and Job Based Health. United States Department of Labor, December 2013.
- Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association, an organization promoting pregnancy wellness.
- Diakow PR, et al. Back pain during pregnancy and labor. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 1991 Feb;14(2):116-8.
- Sipko T, et al. The occurrence of strain symptoms in the lumbosacral region and pelvis during pregnancy and after childbirth. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2010 Jun;33(5):370-7.
- Ohm J. "Chiropractic Care for an Easier and Safer Birth." Pathways to Family Wellness, December 2009.
- Burton R, et al. The DC role in prenatal care: chiropractic care for pregnancy, birth, and beyond. J Am Chiro Assoc, 1997 May;43(5):18-22.
- Miller J, et al. Efficacy of chiropractic manual therapy on infant colic: a pragmatic single-blind, randomized controlled trial. J Manipulative Physio Ther, 2012 Dec;35(8):600-607.
- Holtzman DA, et al. Prospective case series on the effects of lumbosacral manipulation on dysmenorrhea. J Manipulative Physio Ther, 2008 Mar;31(3):237-46.
- Stude DE, et al. The management of symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. J Manipulative Physio Ther, 1991 Mar;14 (3):209-216.
- Walsh M, et al. The efficacy of chiropractic therapy on premenstrual syndrome: a case series study. Chiropr J of Aus, 1994 Dec;24(4):122-26.
- Walsh M, et al. A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial on the efficacy of chiropractic therapy on premenstrual syndrome. J Manipulative Physio Ther, 1999 Nov;22(9):582-85.
- Bonfort G, et al. Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: a systematic review. J Manipulative Physio Ther, 2001 Sept;24(7):457-66.
- Law A, et al. Diversified chiropractic management in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a case report. J Can Chiropr Assoc, 2001 Dec;45(4):232-40.
- Beyerman KL, et al. Efficacy of treating low back pain and dysfunction secondary to osteoarthritis: chiropractic care compared with moist heat alone. J Manipulative Physio Ther, 2006 Feb;29(2):107-14.
- Gleberzon BJ, et al. Management considerations for patients with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis: a chiropractic perspective on what's working. Top Clin Chiropr, 2002 Mar;9(1):48-61.
- Bonic EE, et al. Brain stem compression and atlantoaxial instability secondary to chronic rheumatoid arthritis in a 67-year -old female. J Manipulative Physio Ther, 2010 May;33(4):315-20.
- Newton K, et al. Use of alternative therapies for menopause symptoms: results of a population-based survey. Obstet Gynecol, 2003 Jan;100(1):18-25.
- Nedrow A. et al. Complementary and alternative therapies for the management of menopause-related symptoms. Arch Intern Med, 2006 Jul;166(14):1453-65.
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