What Is the Webster Technique?
The external cephalic version involves attempting to move the baby by pushing on the abdomen physically. It is a procedure that can often cause vaginal bleeding, membrane ruptures, fetal distress, and induced premature labor. For these reasons, this method can’t be used in many high-risk pregnancies, and with only a 58% success rate, others opt against because of the cons.
A familiar term in pregnancy and birth conversations, the Webster Technique is a widely accepted chiropractic method that can help facilitate a more comfortable and safer birth. Over the course of pregnancy, a number of physiological and endocrinological occurrences occur with the body to help create the appropriate environment for development.
Some of those changes can result in misalignment of the spine or joints. Misalignment of the pelvis, in particular, can reduce the amount of room available for the developing baby, a complication called intrauterine constraint, which can have many effects on pregnancy, including causing aches and pains and possibly causing birthing complications from sub-ideal birth positions.
The Webster Technique intends to correct those misalignments and aid in natural movement. In this article, we will take a look at the procedure's history, usage, outcomes, and how to find a trusted chiropractor in your area.
A Short History of the Webster Technique
After watching his daughter struggle with a difficult pregnancy, Dr. Larry Webster began to look into and experiment with ways that chiropractic care could address spinal and pelvis issues that affect delivery. The core theory behind developing this method was that intrauterine constraint, which limits movement in the womb, was caused at least partially by musculoskeletal issues.
As he began working on his method throughout the 1980s, Webster began to observe that gentle adjustments throughout pregnancy, especially in the final trimester, significantly reduced the chance of a baby being breech.
From there, the practice began to spread among other chiropractors, and now many are certified and specialize in the Webster Technique. Over time, the method has developed further and is now understood as a specific sacral analysis and diversified adjustment methodology.
The goal of using the modern Webster Technique is to reduce the effects of sacral subluxation, which, if addressed, can cause easier labor by helping to correct inadequate uterine function, pelvic contraction, and baby mal-presentation.
What to Expect During a Perinatal Chiropractic Appointment
Before any appointment, make sure to hydrate well with water and take a short walk or light exercise to get your body engaged in moving. Getting in some movement and being hydrated helps get your joints in a state to move and will make any adjustment easier. Your chiropractor will give you a set of pre-appointment recommendations based on your medical history and your reason for the appointment.
Make sure to come with filled forms and be prepared to discuss your medical history and any symptoms that you want to address. Chiropractors take a holistic approach, but it is still vital for them to know of any chronic medical conditions, medications you take, and family history.
Like most visits to the chiropractor, a perinatal appointment for the Webster method will begin with an initial examination and discussion of current symptoms. Using a specialized table or support pillow structure, you will lie face down, and your feet will be bent up and back to see if they meet evenly near your buttocks. If they meet unevenly, it is an indicator that the pelvis may be out of alignment.
Actual adjustments and care will occur for the affected side or sides, utilizing a drop table or other specialized adjustment instrument. Any additional misalignment tends to be treated with massages of soft tissue areas, such as muscles and ligaments in the abdomen and around the uterus, while you lay on your back.
The Webster Technique will never attempt to manipulate a baby away from a breech position physically. These adjustments are meant to create space for movement into optimal positioning naturally. If you have concerns about pain during or after treatment, speak up. The goal is to realign and remove tension from joints and muscles, and not all therapy options work for everyone.
Adjustment therapies can cause the release of toxic build-ups in joints and muscles, and as your body flushes them out, you might feel a little under the weather. Most side effects pass within a day and can be helped with proper hydration and a quick nap.
Why the Webster Technique Works
The female pelvic basin consists of the left and right innominate (hip) bones and the sacrum (just below the lumbar vertebrae), from which ligaments connect the uterus to the abdominal wall and the sacrum. When the pelvis and sacrum are misaligned, these ligaments are pulled unequally from either direction.
This pulling leads to increased stress in the area, causing intrauterine constraint and a reduction in the space for the developing fetus to move around. Without room to move, especially later in pregnancy, the fetus cannot naturally align for birth.
The Webster Technique is so effective because it addresses the musculoskeletal changes that naturally occur during pregnancy that cause more pronounced ligament stress. The chiropractic adjustments performed to put the sacrum back in alignment with the pelvis and massaging of key points around the abdomen loosen ligaments. Together this normalizes tension on the uterine ligaments.
Who Can Benefit from the Webster Technique?
Even if you are not suffering any symptoms of sacral subluxation, chiropractic care during pregnancy can still be beneficial. There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy.
All chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant. Investing in the fertility and pregnancy wellness of women who are pregnant or trying to conceive is routine care for most chiropractors.
Those who will benefit most from the Webster technique are those who:
- Have sacrum or pelvis concerns, including pain
- Have a baby currently presenting as breech
- Have a history of breech babies
The Webster technique is a less invasive alternative to the external cephalic version to bring a baby into the vertex position. It can help avoid the need for a cesarean section for delivery. While it can be helpful when symptoms occur, or a breech positioning needs to be addressed late in pregnancy, protocol recommends periodic treatments throughout the whole term.
What Outcomes Can You Expect
Like with all treatments, chiropractic or otherwise, not everyone responds the same way. But the Webster Technique has shown in a number of studies to have a relatively high rate of success, up to 82% of correcting potential breech positions, which is impressive given its low risk. But optimal positioning isn’t the only outcome you may benefit from after.
Other benefits include:
- Restoration of proper nerve function in reproductive organs
- Greater comfort during pregnancy
- Reduced joint pain, dizziness, or nausea
- Reduced average labor times
It is recommended to use the technique throughout pregnancy for the best outcome and not wait until a complication has presented. But even then, the Webster technique can still be helpful to address breech presentation in a more natural manner.
Finding a Qualified Chiropractor
As of 2000, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) implemented a rigorous training and certification program to teach chiropractors the Webster Technique and the importance of its application during pregnancy. Over the years, the program has expanded and updated with new clinical feedback to promote higher safety standards and effectiveness.
The ICPA is the profession's oldest pediatric association in the world, with over 6,000 members. As you look for perinatal chiropractic care in your area, ask about their certifications and experience treating mothers and children throughout pregnancy.
If you aren’t sure where to start in your search and your primary health care team doesn’t have any recommendations, you can use the ICPA site to find a perinatal chiropractor in your area. No matter how you find your chiropractor of choice, check that they are appropriately credentialed and licensed to practice.
Just like regular medical doctors and therapists, if you aren’t comfortable with one, don’t stop looking.
Perinatal Chiropractic Care, Asheville
As more women seek the benefits of chiropractic care throughout pregnancy, more healthcare providers seek trained doctors of chiropractic in their communities to which they may refer their pregnant patients. Dr Monitto at Monitto Chiropractic specializes in the Webster Technique and perinatal chiropractic care.
Discuss these options with your healthcare provider. If they are not yet familiar with chiropractic care in pregnancy, ask them to find out more about its many benefits. Most importantly, seek options that support your body’s natural abilities to function and find a team of providers who are respectful of your choices.
Monitto Chiropractic has served the Asheville area for over 40 years. We have same day appointments available seven days a week and can provide emergency care when needed. Give us a call at (828) 252-7400 or message us online to schedule your visit today.