The Webster Technique – A Chiropractic Analysis and Adjustment for Pregnant Women
Written by Jeanne Ohm, D.C.
TAC, Volume 24, Issue 02
More and more women are seeking the benefits of chiropractic care in pregnancy. Many birth care providers are becoming aware of the efficacy of care throughout pregnancy and encouraging their patients/clients to find doctors of chiropractic who are interested in caring for pregnant women. As with any specialty group within the population, there are specific types of spinal analysis and adjustment which are adapted to the best care for that population.
The Webster Technique is a specific analysis and adjustment whose appeal, necessity and popularity are increasing in both the professional and public sectors. Discovered by Dr. Larry Webster, this technique was first taught as a sacral adjustment which allowed a baby in a breech presentation to turn to the vertex position. As founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) and Pediatric Instructor at LifeCollege, Dr Webster had the venue to share this technique with many students and doctors of chiropractic. These practitioners brought this technique into their communities and, according to Dr. Webster’s instructions, offered it to mothers who presented with breech presentations in their last tri-mester. Success with this specific adjustment to alleviate “breech presentations” became known by birthing practitioners (primarily midwives) and it became known as the Webster Breech Turning Technique.
When Dr. Anrig was compiling the extensive materials for her textbook, Chiropractic Pediatrics, the name of the technique was revised to the Webster In-Utero-Constraint Technique. This title reflected a more accurate description of the technique, as it identified the physiological relationship between the sacral subluxation and intrauterine constraint.
After Dr Webster’s passing in 1997, the technique continued to be taught by instructors of the ICPA’s 120-hour certification program. With its increased exposure and use, more women experienced the benefits of the technique and more practitioners expressed greater interest in defining the physiological aspects of this particular analysis and adjustment. A look into the physiology of the woman’s pelvis, particularly the suspension ligaments of the uterus and their biomechanical relationship with the sacrum, revealed a deeper understanding of how the administration of this technique could affect the positioning of the developing fetus. In February 2000, the ICPA approved and incorporated a Technique Proficiency class to update and expose doctors to the, now understood, physiology of the technique. The technique, itself, became termed the “Webster Technique.”
This more sophisticated understanding led to an evolution in the technique protocols. Whereas the technique was previously used on women presenting breech in their last trimester only, it is now understood that this specific sacral analysis and adjustment is an asset to the pregnant woman throughout pregnancy as a means of preventing or limiting the potential of intrauterine constraint.
Intrauterine constraint is a condition where fetal movement is restricted, resulting in potential adverse effects to its development throughout pregnancy. Furthermore, limited movement and space in the uterus can lead to malpresentation in various forms: breech, transverse, posterior, as well as ascynclitic presentations. Malpresentation at the time of birth is one of the four leading causes of dystocia (difficult labor). Dystocia is the primary reason for medical intervention. Medical intervention almost always leads to further intervention and, frequently, results in a more traumatic birth for both the mother and baby.
It is a wonderful thing to offer a service and help create an environment that allows a baby to go from breech to vertex. Breech presentations, however, occur in only 4% of the population. Many, many more women experience dystocia in labor, leading to excessive interventions and trauma. When it comes to birth, the obstetric profession readily refers to difficult labor and its cause by admitting that, “Such complications, however, are not determined by birth weight alone, but by a poorly understood relationship between fetal and maternal anatomy and other factors.” In Williams Obstetrics’ chapter on dystocia, the authors also admit that they have a limited understanding of the natural, physiological process of birth.
As doctors of chiropractic, our perspective on physiology offers significant insight into intrauterine constraint, its effects, and the difficult labors it creates. The Webster Technique is a significant analysis and adjustment to be utilized throughout pregnancy for the prevention of dystocia.
The ICPA Technique Committee has put out an official definition of the Webster Technique, and encourages all doctors to remain consistent with this definition when referring to this technique. The term “breech turning” is physiologically, legally and philosophically incorrect. The definition is as follows: “The Webster Technique is a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment which reduces interference to the nervous system, improves the function of the pelvic muscles and ligaments, which in turn, removes constraint of the woman’s uterus, and allows the baby to get into the best possible position for birth.”
The ICPA Research Department is involved in several large scale studies to demonstrate the efficacy of the Webster Technique for safer, easier births. Members of the ICPA are being invited to participate in these exciting projects.
Since ICPA’s initiation of the Webster Proficiency series in Feb 2000, over 2,000 practitioners have become certified. They are now aware of the physiology behind the technique and the far reaching implications it has on the future of safe and natural birthing. If you are already certified, kudos to you and the women in your community! If you learned the technique years ago, update your knowledge and understanding of its application. Your ability to adequately explain its efficacy to both women and birth care providers establishes your credibility. The way you represent this technique in your community has ramifications for the entire profession. If you do not know this technique, you owe it to the women in your community to become proficient and lead them towards safer, easier births.
It is a true teacher’s dream to see his or her work grow and evolve to be of even greater service and value. When I think back on our founder and teacher, Dr. Larry Webster, I know he would be pleased that his technique is now offering a significant contribution to safer, easier births for all pregnant women.
Dr. Jeanne Ohm has practiced in a family practice with her husband, Dr. Tom, since 1981. They have six children who were all born at home. Dr. Ohm has lectured internationally on the topic Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy and Infancy for many years and is an instructor for the ICPA’s Certification Diplomate Program. Currently, Dr. Ohm is the Executive Coordinator of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, the oldest and largest organization of its kind. For additional information about the ICPA or their classes, please visit www.icpa4kids.com or call 610 565-2360.
Kids and Chiropractic
Jeanne Ohm, D.C.
Many parents bring their children into our office asking us to treat their ear infections. My first response is that the purpose of chiropractic care is not the treatment of conditions or diseases; rather, it is the restoration of normal body function. I explain that as chiropractors, we work with the nervous system via gentle spinal adjustments. We reduce stress related interference to the nervous system, thereby enhancing all overall body function. I further explain that all systems of the body—muscular, glandular, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, eliminatory, hormonal and immunological—depend on the optimal function of the nervous system. Withable for the treatment of ear infections, I continue, “As a parent, you have some choices to make. You can either treat the ear infection, or not—that’s your right as a parent. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a watch-and-wait approach, because the evidence-based research about antibiotics is showing that not only are they ineffective at treating ear infections, but they will actually lead to repeated ear infections in your child.
As a parent, you can choose to treat or not to treat. “If you do choose to treat, you again have some options. You can treat the ear infections allopathically (the typical medical/ drug route) or naturally. If you choose to go the usual route to a pediatrician, she may take a watch-and-wait approach.
More likely, she will prescribe an antibiotic. If, however, you would prefer to treat the ear infections more naturally, there are several options for you to consider. A naturopath will explore herbs and nutrition; a homeopath will assess your child for a specific remedy; an acupuncturist will work with specific meridian points for healing.
“It is so important that you as a parent realize you have choices, and the right to make these choices for your family.
“Regardless of the choices you make, the chiropractic approach will improve your child’s inherent ability to function. Doesn’t it make sense to have your child function at an optimal level for healing no matter how (or if ) you choose to treat? We will assess your child’s spine, make the necessary adjustments to improve nerve system function and offer lifestyle suggestions to reduce nerve system stress for your child. We will also support any decision you make in your choice to treat the infection or not. This is your right as a parent, and we stand behind informed choice.”
It is important that parents realize the role chiropractic plays in whole-body wellness. So, too, is it important for parents to know, when reading the following testimonials, that chiropractic adjustments have allowed these children to express a greater state of health and wholeness, and that their systems were able to overcome repeated infections because neuro-immunology function was restored.
Ear Infections and Antibiotics- Are They Safe? Are They Necessary?
Dr. David A. Jackson
Ask most any parent about ear infections, and you will most likely hear one horror story after another. Ear infection, or Otitis Media, is the most common reason for visits to the pediatrician’s office. It is estimated that over 30 million visits are made every year in an attempt to deal with this problem.
Otitis Media is the general name for several conditions affecting the middle ear. The most common symptoms are earache, a feeling of pressure, and perhaps difficulty hearing due to increased amounts of fluid. Teething often produces similar symptoms, therefore one must carefully observe before jumping to any conclusions.
Historically, the treatment for ear infections has been antibiotics. This method of treatment has come under severe attack over the past several years for many reasons.
The first reason is that the overuse and over prescription of these antibiotics has led towhat is termed “antibiotic resistant bacteria”. These bacteria have ‘evolved’ and changed so that the antibiotics no longer affect them. Because of these phenomena, stronger and stronger antibiotics are being used, which is leading to more and more resistance.
Another reason use of antibiotics has come under fire is because study after study has demonstrated that they are not effective. In other words, they don’t work! This is why so many children are on one antibiotic after another, stronger and stronger each time. Sure, many times the infection will go away, but it quickly returns with a vengeance, and so begins the antibiotic roller coaster.
The reasons they continually reoccur are twofold:
First, antibiotics kill off most bacteria in the body including the helpful ‘good’ bacteria our bodies need. This depletes our children’s natural immune systems, making them vulnerable to many more infections of varying types.
Second, antibiotics merely attempt to treat the symptom of ear infections. They do not address the actual cause in the least bit, and therefore the infections return.
The real question then is what is the cause of ear infections? The reality is that ear infections themselves are merely a symptom of a greater problem. The vast majority of them are secondary to a cold or other infection, which may be due to a depressed immune system.
The other more physical reason children suffer from ear infections is because of the actual anatomy of the young ear. In children, the Eustachian tube is nearly horizontal, gradually acquiring a near 45- degree angle. This often slows draining of these tubes, allowing fluid to build. Like most any stagnant fluid, infection may appear.
The obvious question from most parents now is: what can we do? The answer lies in a new level of thinking. As a chiropractor, my primary objective is to address the root cause of health problems.
Treating symptoms, as mentioned earlier, has been proven unsuccessful at best. When dealing with your children and their ear infections, my goal is to correct the actual cause, and to allow the body to function at it’s optimal potential. There is a direct link between the nerves in the neck (the superior cervical ganglion), the muscles of the Eustachian tubes (tensor veli palatini) and the middle ear.
Let me explain: The middle ear drains any fluid through the Eustachian tubes. These tubes open and close through the action of a muscle, which is controlled by a nerve. This nerve originates in the neck. When this nerve is not functioning normally, the tensor veli pallatini muscle may go into spasm, which constricts the Eustachian tube, restricting drainage and causing fluid build up in the middle ear. This fluid, combined with a stressed immune system, may result in an ear infection.
Ultimately then, this “nerve disturbance” can cause your children to be susceptible and to suffer as they do. My job as a chiropractor is to detect this nerve disturbance (called subluxation), and correct it. A subluxation is a misalignment of a bone in the spine that pinches, stretches or twists a nerve resulting in disturbance.
By correcting this disturbance, your child’s body is given the potential to heal, be well and to function as it was intended to. With proper chiropractic care, your child will be able to live a life free from nerve disturbance and free from drugs. Through advances in technology such as Surface EMG and Thermal Scans, a chiropractor can easily detect if subluxations are present and monitor their correction as well. This enables the doctor of chiropractic to be accurate and objective, allowing you the best care possible.
Treating the symptoms of ear infections with antibiotics has proven to be ineffective. Correcting the cause through chiropractic has been shown to help over 80% of all children suffering with ear infections.
Give your children a fighting chance with chiropractic. It could change your lives!