A chiropractor working with a pregnant mom checks the baby's position

Webster Certified Chiropractic Care: Podcast Episode #226

Kristin Revere and Dr. Annie Bishop discuss how Webster Certified Chiropractic Care can be beneficial during pregnancy.  They also discuss other options for prenatal and postnatal support.

Hello, hello!  This is Kristin Revere with Ask the Doulas, and I am excited to chat with my friend Dr. Annie Bishop of Rise Chiropractic Wellness.  Welcome, Dr. Annie!

Thank you so much, Kristin!  I’m so pumped to be here again.

I’m excited to chat with you!  It’s been a bit.  We’ve had you on over the years, multiple times, as well as Dr. Rachel.  But our topic is all about the importance of overall chiropractic care during pregnancy, but especially focusing on the Webster technique.  So let’s dive into that.

Awesome.  Thanks, Kristin!  So I really wanted to talk about Webster technique: what it is, why people seek us out, and why it’s so important as a preventative measure for your pregnancy.

So the first thing is that Webster technique was started by Dr. Larry Webster, who was a chiropractor, and he developed this technique that was specific to the anatomy of the pelvis to help moms during pregnancy to make sure that everything was in good alignment.  So that’s been taught now over the last couple of decades to a lot of different chiropractors.  So when you’re searching for, like, prenatal chiropractic, Webster technique is really the certification that you want to check for.  So that has been kind of going on with ICPA, which is the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association, for several decades now.  They’re the ones who do the training.  Both Dr. Rachel and I have taken that training, as well as some other advanced perinatal techniques.  It’s really important at helping support women during their pregnancy and help support their bodies.  I wanted to go in depth a little bit with what Webster technique is, what it’s actually looking for, and why it’s so important from a neurological aspect, from an overall body tone, how your biomechanics are changing, that aspect.  That’s what I wanted to focus on today.

Beautiful.  Before we begin, you did mention some of your certifications, as well as Dr. Rachel’s, but give us a bit about your background.  I know you have many certifications.  Why did you choose to work with women in childbearing years versus all of the different focuses and types of chiropractic care out there?

Oh, thanks for that question, Kristin.  So both Dr. Rachel and I went to Life University.  We actually went at different times.  She’s my best friend’s oldest sister.  After she graduated, she told me where to go, so I followed suit.  But while there, you take some family, like pediatric and pregnancy, courses in the curriculum, and then you can take some optional ones if you’re really into it.  I think it was during those ones when I was learning about neurodevelopment and all of that when I became really interested in this idea of helping babies and helping with that neuro development, making sure babies are on the right track, and the impact that you can have in a kid’s life that way and in a person’s life.  And a lot of that initial help with infants starts in pre-conception through pregnancy, so doing the prenatal and pregnancy support was a really important aspect of that.  It’s helping moms just have their best possibly pregnancy.  I mean, both Rachel and I are women.  We care a lot about women’s health and are very huge proponents of just women’s health in general and having good doctors and not dismissing women and being really supportive of their whole journey.  That became really important to both of us.

And then when Rachel got pregnant with her twins, we realized how absolutely important and vital it is to have good chiropractic care throughout the pregnancy and how supportive that is.

Absolutely, not only with relieving discomfort, especially with twins, but certainly positioning.  It is so important for vaginal deliveries to have both twins head down, as you know.  I know you worked on Dr. Rachel.

Yeah, absolutely.  And she carried those twins to 39 weeks and had two eight-pound babies.

I was her doula.  She was amazing!

Yeah.  It’s so important.  It’s great support for the mom’s body, for the position of the baby, for all of these factors that go into having a good birth.  That also leads the way so much to prevent birth trauma, to prevent interventions so that baby has the best outcomes, too.  That’s why we’re so passionate about what we do.

So if our listeners see a general chiropractor and then they become pregnant, is that something that you temporarily switch over to a Webster certified chiro, or is there any co-care if they have this longstanding relationship?

That’s a really good question.  It’s up to the comfort of the individual.  I would say if your chiropractor doesn’t have any pregnancy training, I would switch during your pregnancy.  There’s just a lot of important things and changes in your body that you want to have someone who is really educated on it and really prepared for it.  We have a lot of moms who will come to us just during their pregnancy and then go back to their old chiropractor afterwards and take their families there and stuff, too.  We have no problem doing that.  It’s kind of like medical doctors.  You have different specialties, and some people are really good at some things.  I think that’s a really important thing when it comes to chiropractic.  We should really focus on each other’s strengths and give people the best care possible, right?  Having somebody who’s really well trained in perinatal care during your pregnancy is going to be so much more supportive, and then switch back to your old chiropractor afterwards.  I think that’s great, especially if you have a great relationship with them.

Or if your chiropractor is not a pediatric chiropractor, the way your practice is Webster as well as pediatric.  Then potentially having a pediatric chiropractor adjust baby, and then transition as the child ages to a general chiropractor.

Absolutely.  Babies are not just littler, smaller spines.  They have a lot of differences, too.  You want someone who, again, knows and is really good at adjusting kids and works well with kids.

So, Dr. Annie, what are some of the top reasons that your patients seek out a Webster certified chiropractor?

A lot of times, people seek out Webster certified chiropractors because they’re pregnant, but also because a lot of times, it goes along with pregnancy discomfort, what they’re feeling, changes in their body, but also because baby is malpositioned.  I feel like that goes along with the Webster technique.  Usually when baby is not in the right position, moms will start seeking out Webster technique certified chiropractors.  I want to talk about all of that, too, how it all works together.

Webster technique is kind of based on ways to prevent dystocia, which is difficulty during labor.  And so if we go into Williams Obstetrics, which is the textbook that OBs use in their education and their schooling, there are three main causes of difficulty during labor.  There’s power, passage, and passenger.  Those are the three things that they talk about.

Power is talking about the uterine contractions and how well neurologically your body is able to communicate.  The uterus is a huge muscle, and it gets its innervation from the upper lumbar and also from the sacral plexus, too.  It gets those nerves from the spine, coming and talking to the muscle of the uterus.  The power component of that is really making sure that there’s good neurological communication there, which ties directly into chiropractic.  We want to make sure everything is in good alignment so that communication can work well, so that when your uterus and all the muscles are contracting, it’s all working together symmetrically and working together really well.

The passage is looking at the pelvic opening and the shape of the pelvis and how all of that moves during pregnancy, too.  During labor, the pelvis kind of opens up.  You know, the sacrum kind of kicks back.  The pelvic floor muscles have to be pliable and movable so that the baby can have the best chance of going through the birth canal.  If there are subluxations in the pelvis – that’s really what Webster technique is looking at is how the pelvis alignment is working, how everything is working together, because if ligaments are tight on one side, if muscles, pelvic floor muscles, are tight on one side, that’s all going to cause more intrauterine constraint, which is also going to lead into the next one, which is the passenger, which is the baby trying to come through the birth canal.

If there is twisting in the pelvis, if there is intrauterine constraint because of those ligaments or muscles, baby is going to have a harder time getting into the right position and getting into that head down, ready to go position.  Those are all the three main components, and Webster technique addresses each one of those in kind of a different way.  Chiropractic is working with those subluxations to make sure there’s good neuromuscular communication.  We’re making sure everything is in good alignment so baby has the best chance of doing the right thing.  And then we also work on ligaments in the belly and stuff, too, to just give baby optimal room.  Innately, they should be able to get into the right position.

Right.  And what is the best time in pregnancy to start seeing a chiropractor?

I would say the earlier the better.

I would agree.

I think we have the best outcomes.  The earlier you start – I mean, there’s so many factors to chiropractic, too.  It’s not just about being uncomfortable or having the correct biomechanics, making sure that things are in alignment.  There’s so much to the stress component of that sympathetic and parasympathetic balance in the body.  Making sure your body is recovering well and that you’re just functioning as well as you can.  I would say that I think everyone should be under chiropractic care, everyone with a nervous system, but especially early in your pregnancy, you are going to feel so much better.  Your body is going to adapt so much better to the stresses and the challenges of pregnancy.  Then we can just support you all the way, too.

Exactly.  And so for our listeners who may be seeing a physical therapist, how does that relationship connect between a Webster certified chiro and maybe getting certain exercises from their physical therapist to relieve discomfort?

Oh, I think that’s awesome.  I love it when people are so invested in their pregnancy and they have all of the tools.  It’s the best.  Pelvic floor therapy is super important, too, both pre- and post.  But also, yeah, working with a PT just to – I think, again, I go to a  PT monthly just to keep my body working the way it should, to make sure I’m doing the right exercises and balancing my muscles and stuff, too, in addition to getting adjusted weekly.  I think both are so super important, and they work so well together.  So if you have a PT and they’re working with you on strengthening, the beauty of strengthening the muscles in a well-aligned position is just like chef’s kiss.  Just perfect.  They work so well together.

Agreed.  I do feel like there’s a misconception that if someone is seeing a chiropractor, they don’t need PT.  I’m glad you cleared that up.  Or if they’re seeing a physical therapist, then – and obviously, some people, if it’s self-pay or limited HSA funds, or insurance only covers so many visits, they might really try to optimize their budget.  But as someone who is nonmedical, it makes sense for me, if a client has the time and funds or insurance, to utilize all of the options for support that they can.

Oh, yeah.  Absolutely.  And realistically, there’s a lot of different things that you can do, and really finding what works for your body and who’s willing to work with you on it.  I think it’s the best option.  We do those scans in our office that are, again, no radiation.  They’re all functional tests.  And we give our recommendations, but we’re always willing to work with people.  If they’re like, well, I’m doing this and this also.  It’s like, great.  This is supportive care.  So let’s see what we really need, and then if you’re doing all these other things at home, we can kind of modify that because you’re already putting yourself a step ahead of someone who’s only doing this one thing.  It’s a little different because, again, things work synergistically.

Right, exactly.  And I would say certainly I’ve sent some of our clients to you if baby is breach or is malpositioned, for those positioning issues, or, again, discomfort.  But there’s also some of those last minute calls that you would get for someone who maybe has a VBAC and wants to optimize their changes for a vaginal birth after Cesarean or someone whose baby is measuring big and they really want a vaginal birth, so they want to get that extra support from a Webster certified chiro.  What else are you seeing?

Those are big ones.  I mean, we do get the 36-week patients who are like, my baby is breach.  We just found out on ultrasound.  What do we do?  And it’s like, okay, we’re going to do probably close together visits and just try to optimize whatever time we have and also send you to someone who does body balancing technique.  We’re going to hit the ground running and just try to optimize whatever time we have.  Obviously, more time is more beneficial, but we’re always willing to work with those situations because we get it.  A lot of times, you don’t get the ultrasound until that point, so you don’t necessarily know.

Exactly, and then you need to make decisions.

Exactly, but yeah, we’re always willing to support any of those kind of game time things.  But I would say those are pretty big ones.  You kind of nailed it on the head with, like, the breach baby positioning.  VBAC support is huge.  We have a really good success rate with VBAC support, which is so exciting.  There’s also great care providers in town, too, willing to do VBACs, and I think that’s awesome.

And even with induction pending, wanting to get your body as ready as possible if that induction conversation comes up with a provider and you aren’t seeing a chiropractor – similar to what you described with a breach baby, trying to get in as many visits as possible before the induction date would be beneficial.

Yeah, that’s a great point.  Inductions are stressful on the body.  And so the better adaptability and the more ready your body is to have a baby, the better outcomes you have with the induction, too.  That’s a really, really good point, too.  Just again supporting moms, getting them as ready as possible so that their body can handle what’s coming.

Right.  And then certainly reducing headaches or balance issues.  I could name off 20 reasons why I send my clients to you.

Or the SPD.  No one knows what to do with the symphysis pubis dysfunction, which is awful, but we can adjust it, which is great, and that helps.  So if it hurts when you go up the stairs or why you try to put on your pants one leg at a time, it helps a ton.  But that’s the benefit of your body working more efficiently is a lot of those symptoms go away, and it’s not just about the headaches or the pain and stuff, but it helps a lot with those things, too.  Let’s not discount pain; it’s a huge motivator, for sure.

Yes.  And then also in a women-owned practice, supporting women.  When I go in for adjustments or to work on the diaper drive with you, I hear – it’s almost like confiding in that close relationship you would have to your hair dresser.  It’s like you are following their journey.  You’re offering emotional support the way a doula would.  It’s truly a sense of community.

I think that’s my favorite part of our practice.  We do the open adjusting.  There’s so many mom conversations.  Kids will be playing in the corner, and moms are just chatting, like, oh, what do you do about this?  Where do you guys go to play?  What parks do you like?  Just little conversations like that.  And I just love to be witness to that.  But that’s going with moms through – we have a lot of second and third time moms right now that we find out so early in their pregnancy because we’re one of the first providers they can tell, one of the first people they can tell.  We’re just so thrilled for them because a lot of them, sometimes it’s taken a little while to get pregnant again and stuff, and so we celebrate that with them.  We work with them through their pregnancy journey.  They can tell – there’s no shame in our office.  You can tell us literally anything, and we’re just here to support.  And then getting to enjoy that birth, getting to go through all the highs and lows of pregnancy, all the highs and lows of motherhood, and just create a community around that – I love it so much.  I love that aspect of our practice.  And that’s what just keeps us motivated and keeps us wanting to do more and more of this work.

Yes, and I think your practice is unique is that you do home visits and you do have that follow the journey from pregnancy to early parenting with the pediatric aspect of your practice.

Yes.  Home visits are so fun.  Getting to meet baby – sometimes it’s before a lot of the other family members get to, too, which is – what an honor for us, with a mom where we’ve helped support her pregnancy, to then be like, here, adjust my baby, too.  It’s such a tremendous honor to be a part of their lives like that.  I love the home visits.  I think it’s so fun to feel like an old-timey doctor, bringing my whole kit over to someone’s house.  That’s a big fun part.  We always offer those during pregnancy.  We love to follow up with moms, too.  We understand that your focus now is on your baby or recovery or any of those things, and so we always want to check in with you, but not push too much.

And then in pregnancy, if someone’s on bed rest at home, of course you can help there, since you do home visits.

Absolutely.  And if there’s a home birth, too, with stalled labor, we can come during the labor process.  There’s a lot of things.  Even after a Cesarean birth, we can still adjust seated.  There’s always ways that we can modify.  If you’re on bedrest, if there’s certain things, like if you have an incision, we can adjust you different ways, and we’re very flexible with that, too.

Exactly.  So what are your final tips for our listeners, Dr. Annie?

Oh, find a chiropractor that loves you like us and wants to just support you and be psyched about your birth outcomes.  I feel like we have such a good community of birth workers in this area that all feel the same way that we do.  If you’re listening in a different area, find a birth team that really cares about you.  In Grand Rapids, we’re so lucky because there’s so many doulas, so many midwives.  At Gold Coast, you guys crush it all the time with your classes, with your support, with your Becoming course, to just support moms as they are and as they show up and just love them and help them through this challenging time.

It’s such a vulnerable time, and I do love that you have the all-inclusive that we do at Gold Coast.  We follow families through the first year with our day and overnight support.  And so we get to know them on a much different, more intimate level, and you have a very similar model. 


You did mention resources for our listeners who live elsewhere.  Remind us again on how to find a certified Webster chiropractor in your area.

Anyone who’s taken a Webster certification and keeps up on it will be listed on the ICPA website, which is icpa4kids.com.  But if you Google ICPA, too, it will take you to the website.  And then right on the main page, it says Find a Doc.  You can type in your address, your ZIP code, even just city name, and it will populate who’s closest to you.  It will show who’s Webster certified, who has a CACCP, which is the certification that I have.  It’s the pediatric certification.  And then there’s also a DACCP, which is a diplomate, which I’ll probably work on here in a couple of years, too.  Those are the different levels of pediatric and perinatal certification, but if you’re pregnant, find somebody who’s at least Webster certified.  I think that would be just tremendous support for you.

Excellent.  And how can we find you?  Fill us in on social.  I know you’re everywhere on social.  Your website, all of it.

Oh, we have a lot of fun on social.  We are on Instagram.  We’re @risewellnesschiro.  Facebook, same thing.  Our website is risewellnesschiro.com.   You can find us on any of those.

And you do Facebook lives.  You have in-office events quite frequently for listeners and clients who are local.  As you mentioned, there’s so much going on.

Oh, yeah.  We like to do Yoga Bumps and Bagels in our office.  We’ve got Jessica, who’s a pediatric OT, working out of our office.  She’s doing a bunch of events every third Saturday now.  Tummy time support, breastfeeding support, all sorts of things.  And then we host Fit For Mom classes, too.  So we like to have events in our office, for sure, and just make it a safe space for moms.

Well, thanks so much for chatting with us, and we’ll include all those links on the blog.  We’ll have to chat again soon, Annie!

Yes.  Thank you so much, Kristin!


Rise Chiropractic

Find a Webster chiropractor

Birth and postpartum support from Gold Coast Doulas

Becoming a Mother course