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Chiropractic Care During and After Pregnancy with Dr. Kristen Hartwell
Dr. Hartwell has been a doctor of chiropractic for almost 15 years. She studied at Indiana University for her undergrad in pre-med as well as majored in biology plus a minor in psychology & chemistry. From there she wanted to get into healthcare, to be able to explore different avenues. That’s when she leaned into chiropractic care, what it was and how it was helping people.
Once out into the ‘real world’ she saw how much they were improving people’s health, confirming she definitely wanted to jump on board. So she went back to chiropractic school out in Davenport, Iowa as well as to Palmer Chiropractic College. Since then, she’s loved just about every single day of work, but even more so since she started specializing in prenatal and pediatric chiropractic. That’s really where her heart is and that’s what we cover in this episode.
We and Dr. Hartwell talk about the questions surrounding chiropractic care and pregnancy like whether it is safe, finding the right chiropractor, and other interesting benefits of going to the chiropractor before, during, and after pregnancy.
Is the Chiropractor Safe During Pregnancy?
Cari asked Dr. Hartwell a question that everyone’s probably curious about, is going to the chiropractor safe during pregnancy?
She told us, “It’s definitely safe in pregnancy and also even just preconception. It’s not like a massage where there are certain times during that process that you’d want to stay away from it. It’s actually safe, preconception all the way through. We even have moms in labor that are getting adjusted which is really fun. Basically what we’re doing is removing any interference to the nervous system. It’s going to help all of those things just work more efficiently and better for the body. So, yes it’s definitely safe and we welcome it throughout all of pregnancy.”
Cari followed with an additional question, is it just different positioning as you progress? And Dr. Hartwell told us, “Yes and no. Obviously, we have to accommodate for a growing belly and changes with the body itself but also in the technique that we use. In pregnancy, we don’t want to be over-rotating, causing any additional twisting to those uterine ligaments and such. A technique that is gaining popularity is called Webster Technique. It does change the way that we are doing things, the positions we’re putting those moms in so that we can really adapt to that growing baby and all the changes that are occurring during pregnancy, just as you guys would with your exercises.”
Finding the Right Chiropractic Care
Another question for Dr. Hartwell was whether this is a separate certification. Do not all chiropractors do pre and postnatal care for infants? She explains that is correct. “Throughout the main curriculum of chiropractic everyone’s going to get some OBS pediatrics and obstetrics, but it’s a very small amount. So if you’re thinking about chiropractic during pregnancy, pre and postnatal, definitely go to somebody who’s got a lot of extra training. There is an International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (icpa4kids.com) organization that a lot of chiropractors train in as well that’s valid and highly recognizable.”
It was mentioned a little earlier but Bailey had another question on if there was ever a time that a pregnant woman shouldn’t get chiropractic care. For example, if they are high risk, or is it safe for everyone and can work around it? Dr. Hartwell said, “the more high risk you are or any specific conditions, you definitely want to make sure you’re going to somebody who knows what they’re doing and has a lot of extra training. I would sit down and have a conversation or a consultation with that chiropractor about your conditions and what’s going on. I personally haven’t had any conditions that I haven’t been able to work with a pregnant woman with the exception of one. She was referred to the ER and then back to her primary care where she had some other scans performed. All chiropractors should know when to make that referral that it’s not safe for us to adjust. So there’s really not much that I’ve not been able to work around that’s possible with modifications, of course.”
This is something that Cari and Bailey preach as well, make sure that you’re going to someone who knows what they’re doing, even when it comes to exercise during pregnancy. Work with someone who has the certifications, the education, and the background. Not going to anyone and everyone just because they say they can do it.
Can You Go to Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy?
A more specific question from a listener in regard to her own pregnancy. She is currently 23 weeks pregnant with her first baby and interested in going to the chiropractor for sciatica pain. Is it okay to go this late into her pregnancy if she hasn’t gone before?
In response, Dr. Hartwell said, “absolutely. And I know pregnant women get told, ‘hey, don’t start anything that you haven’t been doing prior to pregnancy.’ But that’s not the case with chiropractic. It’s never too late. Honestly, we’ve had people giving us a call as a new patient in labor, 23 weeks is definitely not too late. And, sciatica is definitely one of those things that we can help women with. So basically what we’re doing is checking the alignment of the lumbar spine and the pelvic alignment. Then we’re also doing some muscle work.”
Other Benefits of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy, Postpartum or Pediatric
Cari mentions that besides the reduction of pain getting back into neutral alignment, what would she say are some more top benefits to getting adjusted either during pregnancy, postpartum, or even pediatric?
Dr. Hartwell explains, “the main goal for any adjustment in our office is to regulate the nervous system. So when we’re adjusting the spine, we’re using the spine as a tool or an avenue to get to the nervous system. Because so many times what’s happening is no matter what the condition is, if it’s high blood pressure, infertility, or an IBS issue a lot of times there are a lot of contributing factors. But one of the main common denominators for a lot of conditions is a dysregulated nervous system. So that also comes into effect with like colic, constipation, or reflux with a baby. So it’s the inability of the body to be able to rest and digest and be in a state of homeostasis with their nervous system to where that feels safe and calm, to get pregnant, to digest their food, to sleep, or to regulate all of the normal functions of the body.”
Dr. Hartwell reminded us that we always wait for that symptom versus all the things we could do preventatively to not experience those things. For example, pregnant mamas come to her with a second, third, or fourth baby expressing how this pregnancy was so much better than that one that they didn’t get chiropractic care with. It’s setting them up for a smoother labor and delivery and setting their baby up too. She got into more detail, “a lot of times when moms have been adjusted throughout their entire pregnancy and kept everything in good alignment, it keeps pressure off that developing baby too. So, the babies come out much more relaxed. A nice nourished, healthy, well-adjusted mama is typically going to give birth to an also very well-nourished, healthy, relaxed baby. So it’s not just about waiting until you have sciatica in pregnancy, it’s really that preventative action of keeping your nervous system, your pelvis, and proper alignment for you and for your baby.”
Chiropractic Care Postpartum
Bailey had wondered specifically, is there a certain amount of time you have to wait before you can get adjusted or can it be right after? Dr. Hartwell points out, “We have to be mindful of what mom went through during labor and delivery but yes, absolutely. You can get adjusted ASAP. We actually see moms within hours of giving birth that are already starting to get adjusted again. Of course, we modify the way we’re doing things. Including c-section moms too, coming in days after they get out of the hospital and they’re cleared to leave. They’re coming in and getting adjusted. But being mindful of what their bodies have been through.
BTL Emsella© Chair
Bailey was curious to know more about the BTL Emsella© Chair and asked her to elaborate on it a little more. “It’s new technology and is FDA cleared for incontinence but basically what it’s doing, is it’s a high-frequency electromagnetic technology that’s lifting and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles with sub-maximal contractions. Which is such an important part of healing postpartum. And that is difficult for women to do postpartum when they don’t have that mind-body connection. It’s a nice tool for that muscle re-education that’s going to get people there faster than if they have to rely on taking the time to actually think about doing the work. Not that you would never need to also do the work, do the exercises or do the pelvic floor PT. It’s not curing any conditions by any means or diagnosing anything. But it is a jump-off point to really get some strength so we have a foundation again to then work on from there.”
This is only the beginning of our conversation with Dr. Kristen Hartwell on chiropractic care during and after pregnancy. Listen to the full episode wherever you get your podcasts.
- If you want to learn more from Dr. Kristen Hartwell you can find her on instagram @sacredspinesllc or her website at sacredspines.com to answer any questions you may have or book a free consultation.
- International Chiropractic Pediatric Association icpa4kids.com
- Find us over on Instagram @fitmamain30
- Our text line: 513-540-4183
- Use our affiliate code FITMAMA for 20% off your order of Needed prenatals or any product at https://thisisneeded.com/. We love Needed because they design products that are tailored to address your body’s specific needs during the life stage of conception, through pregnancy, and postpartum. Their prenatals also come in powder and capsule form to fit your lifestyle.