Pregnancy is a time of drastic changes in a woman’s weight-bearing patterns and body mechanics. As her body prepares for the task of childbirth, her ligaments become more flexible. These changes can cause subtle misalignments of the skeletal system. Misalignments in the pelvis can cause muscles and ligaments to tighten abnormally. This can lead to twisting of the uterus, which is known as intrauterine constraint. Breech presentations are most often the result of intrauterine constraint. While many infants in breech presentation before 34 weeks will convert spontaneously to a head-down presentation, few will do so afterwards.
What is the Webster Technique?
The Webster Technique was developed in 1978 to relieve intrauterine constraint by normalizing mechanics of the pelvis. There are two steps to this technique: first, to correct abnormal pelvic biomechanics by a light-force chiropractic adjustment of the sacrum; and second, to relieve tension and spasm in the muscular ligaments connecting the uterus to the pelvis. It is important to stress that the Webster Technique is not to be misconstrued as the practice of obstetrics. This technique is intended to relieve a musculoskeletal condition and is well within the chiropractor’s scope of practice. At no time does the chiropractor attempt to directly change the position of the fetus, as is done in external cephalic version (ECV). The Webster Technique often reduces intrauterine constraint. This allows the fetus enough room to move into a head-down position.
How Effective is This Approach?
In expecting mothers presenting breech, there has been a high reported success rate of the baby turning to the normal head-down position. 2008 data from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) showed that the Webster Technique had a 69% effectiveness rate1. A research study from 2002 reported a success rate of 82% and indicated that application of the Webster Technique was most beneficial for the 8th month of pregnancy2. In terms of treatments needed to convert the fetus into a head-down position, 34% of practitioners reported this outcome within 24 hours of initial application of Webster Technique, 24% within 2-6 days, and 41% within 1-2 weeks2. The ICPA is currently completing more studies on the Webster Technique.
Use of the Webster Technique during pregnancy can facilitate easier, safer deliveries for both mother and baby. Many birth care providers are actively seeking doctors of chiropractic with the skills in this technique. The ICPA offers the only courses to certify chiropractors in the proper performance of the Webster Technique. If you would like to find a chiropractor trained in the Webster Technique, please visit the ICPA website at www.icpa4kids.org, or call 610-565-2360. Untrained individuals should not attempt the Webster Technique. Pregnant mothers should have their spines checked regularly throughout pregnancy to reduce nervous system stress on both mother and baby.
- Alcantara J, Ohm J. “The Webster Technique: Results from a chiropractic practice-based research program”; accepted for poster presentation at the ACNM annual meeting in Boston, May 2008.
- Pistolese R. 2002. The Webster technique: a chiropractic technique with obstetric implications. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 25:000.