Feb. 18, 2002 -- Shawn Kelley delivered her first son, Evan, prematurely at 32 weeks. It looked like she was headed down the same path with her second baby when she started having contractions at 22 weeks. That is, until she tried an unconventional treatment that seems to be working.

Kelley started seeing a chiropractor, and within a few sessions of gentle manipulations the baby had moved up. She was no longer experiencing severe back pain and her obstetrician gave her the green light to cease bed rest and resume normal activity.

"It's amazing," says Kelley, of Minnetonka, Minn., who is now 33 weeks pregnant with her second baby . "I'll go in, she does some adjustments, and within an hour or two, everything opens up. The baby moves up, I don't feel as much pressure, and the back pain goes away." What's more, she says, she has been able to avoid more bed rest or drugs to stop pre-term labor.


Kelley has joined the growing ranks of Americans -- pregnant women included -- seeking alternatives to traditional Western medicine. Chiropractic care appears to offer many women relief from the back, leg, and pelvic aches and pains common during pregnancy.

"The best use of chiropractic, in general, has to do with musculoskeletal problems, and, in pregnancy, a lot of women have problems that are caused by the uterus being off center," says Mary Hammond-Tooke, a certified nurse-midwife at The Maternity Center in Bethesda, Md. "The uterus is pulling out in front and not well-balanced in back."

Add to that the hormonal changes that soften joints -- and even the strain of balancing another child on one hip -- and an expectant mom can be in for some major body stressors. "Chiropractors who are comfortable with pregnant ladies -- and not all of them are -- do just a wonderful job helping these ladies to be much more comfortable or pain free," says Hammond-Tooke.
More Popular Than Ever
Chiropractic is one of the most popular alternative medicine therapies, ranking fourth after relaxation techniques, herbs, and massage, according to a recent survey by David Eisenberg, MD, of Harvard University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. About 22 million Americans visited a chiropractor last year, according to Jerome McAndrews, national spokesman for the American Chiropractic Association, although there are no statistics on how many of those are pregnant women.