Chiropractic care is used successfully by many women for low back pain in pregnancy, but no one has investigated whether chiropractic care might help the delivery process itself by improving the function of the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles are fundamental in the birth process, mainly during the pushing stage of labour. A difficult vaginal delivery can lead to pelvic floor damage, resulting in incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Therefore if spinal adjustments are able to improve pelvic floor function, it could have important benefits for both delivery and pelvic floor health. Spinal adjustments improve the timing and ability to contract of the deep abdominal muscles. Since the pelvic floor muscles work together with the abdominal muscles, it is highly likely that adjustments will also be able to improve the function of the pelvic floor.
Ultrasound was used to measure the movement of the pelvic floor when women push down and pull up using their pelvic floor muscles, as well as the size of the opening in the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor function was assessed with ultrasound before and after adjustments to the lower back and pelvis. If the adjustments improved pelvic floor function, then it suggests that chiropractic care might be able to make the second stage of labour easier. This could lead to a bigger study investing the effect of chiropractic care on labour and post-delivery pelvic floor function, with the potential to reduce the costs to society of difficult deliveries and associated pelvic floor damage.

Grant Value: $35,208
Chief Investigator: Dr Heidi Haavik & Dr Bernadette Murphy – New Zealand College of Chiropractic, Dr Jenny Kruger – University of Auckland
Status: Complete


  • Swedish Chiropractic Association’s Annual General Meeting, October 2012. Stockholm, Sweden
    Haavik H. The Science of Adjusting Subluxations. Keynote speaker 
  • World Federation of Chiropractic Education Conference, September 2012. Perth, Australia
    Haavik H. The Subluxation: The evidence and how do we instruct students about this entity? Invited speaker 
  • New Zealand College of Chiropractic Lyceum, September 2012. Auckland, New Zealand
    Haavik H. Communicating the Science of Chiropractic. Invited speaker