Written By Lorrie Imbert, R.N.C.
Dr. Katrina Kulhays patients adore her for sparing them untold hours of excruciating pain, labour pains, that is. This Toronto chiropractor is known as one of Canada’s top specialists in the treatment of pregnant women. My pregnancy patients claim they rarely go over 10 hours of difficult labour, Dr. Kulhay says, six to six and a half is average. Though she discourages women from being martyrs, the vast majority of her patients experience natural childbirth. Just how does Dr. Kulhay induce this miracle? Through a series of simple but specialized chiropractic adjustments that any qualified chiropractor can learn easily. The adjustments are combined with home exercises, appropriate diet recommendations and natural supplements.
Chiropractic adjustments and simple home exercises
can significantly reduce labour time and pain.
Cynthia Babbitt, a chartered accountant, is one patient who’d strike envy in the hearts of those who’d have preferred torture to labour and childbirth. Her first child was born in two hours, while her next took all of four. Because Cynthia was in peak physical condition, Dr. Kulhay had warned her to be careful, she reached the hospital in time for the birth. When the contractions started, they were immediately three minutes apart,” recalls Cynthia of her firstborn. I was fully dilated when I arrived at the hospital and the baby was born two hours later. Pushing was fairly quick – it took about 10 minutes.Cynthia had spent ten minutes a day practicing Dr. Kulhay’s recommended home exercises. Cynthia has since had 3 more children all with great labour times.
Most women can have a relatively easy delivery,states Dr. Kulhay, a cheerful, dynamic woman who cares deeply about her patients and clearly loves her work. Women don’t complain of the pain too much because they’ve practiced building up the pelvic floor muscles. You’ve got to understand that the pelvis is like a donut with a hole in the center, so it should go evenly around and not tilt forward or back. If it doesn’t, the woman can’t push properly during delivery.
Weight gain and ligament laxity during pregnancy can cause pelvic misalignment.
She explains that weight gain and ligament laxity during pregnancy causes the spine to tip forward, and thrust the donut to angle forward.This creates unbalanced hamstrings and quadriceps muscles, which in turn can cause lower back pain. To regain proper pelvic position, it’s essential to reinforce regular chiropractic adjustments with specific exercises: kegals and pelvic tilts especially, along with squats, if knees permit, and regular stretches.
Pelvic tilts are a woman’s best friend, says Dr. Kulhay.The more you do, the better your delivery and recovery.They also get you back into shape for sex after the birth. These exercises are slow controlled vaginal contractions that can be performed almost anywhere anytime, whether standing, sitting or lying down.
The goal of Dr. Kulhay’s regimen is to increase pelvic strength and flexibility, while shifting and adjusting the sacroiliac joints and the symphysis pubis. Waddling, a common condition in late pregnancy, is a sure sign the sacroiliac joints are fixed. Treating these conditions early, declares Dr. Kulhay, means the baby can slip out relatively easily, with just a few pushes.
Kate Batty can attest to that. Her first baby came so swiftly that she was directed to hold back until a doctor arrived. Kate herself hadn’t arrived on Dr. Kulhay’s doorstep until her seventh month, upon referral by a Toronto General Hospital physician. Doctors there had been unable to offer much help for a painful and highly unusual problem, namely a separated symphysis pubis. This was Kate’s first visit to a chiropractor, and she admits she was skeptical. But Dr. Kulhay’s treatment was very gentle, not painful at all. After two or three visits, I was feeling much better and I was back at work. She was ecstatic upon delivering healthy baby Claire, gently and easily, in just two and a half hours.
Squatting, if knees permit, to be practiced regularly,
can be the best position to deliver babies
Her chiropractor notes that Asian and Indian cultures squat to deliver babies, which is the best position. The worst is the Western method – on your back with your feet up. This forces a change in gravity and women don’t have the power to push anymore. The more propped up a seated woman is, the easier the delivery. (Women can thank Louis the Fourteenth for masterminding the flat-back position. Concealed behind a curtain, King Louis wanted the best view possible to witness his son’s birth.)
Women in labour are encouraged to stay upright until the last possible moment. While waiting, try practicing squats and pelvic tilts against a wall, or straddle a chair backwards to open and separate the sacro-iliac joints. Hanging from a coat rack or bar is also excellent for inducing labour.
Chiropractic adjustments help to reduce morning sickness
and help prevent urinary incontinence.
According to Dr. Kulhay, chiropractic can not only sharply diminish pain during labour and childbirth, but can also ease some pregnancy woes. Spinal adjustments calm the nervous system thereby reducing morning sickness, and helping to prevent urinary incontinence.
Registered nurse Mary Ann Frank says she’d resigned herself to pain throughout her pregnancy because of scoliosis (a spinal deformity). She was amazed to have a picture perfect pregnancy practically free of pain. I felt so fantastic the whole time I just couldn’t believe I was pregnant! I’d even forget about it. Mary Ann swam regularly and devoted about 20 minutes per day to exercises.
Upon learning a patient is pregnant, Dr. Kulhay dons her nutritionist’s hat and provides prompt counseling. She stresses lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and water to cleanse the system and to stimulate regular, bowel movements. A high-potency multi-vitamin / mineral supplement is advised, accompanied by liquid iron if needed, calcium / magnesium capsules and folic acid. She may suggest pregnancy herbs used for centuries to reduce morning sickness and strengthen the uterus. The healthier a woman is before pregnancy, the easier recovery will be, Dr. Kulhay emphasizes. During office visits, she demonstrates exercises, breathing techniques, delivery positions and previewing pregnancy videos with both mother and partner. Exercises that meet her criteria include walking (the best choice), swimming, yoga and stationary bicycling (only in early pregnancy). High impact aerobics is taboo; however, low impact aerobics is usually acceptable.
Her pregnancy schedule entails monthly visits during the first two trimesters, twice monthly for months seven and eight, then once weekly until the due date. Two weeks after delivery, both mother and baby come in for checkups. Babies and children form a significant part of her practice. Her motto as the twig is bent, so the tree will grow emphasizes that spinal check-ups for children should be done at least once per season with treasure box treats for all children who see her.
Asked how she got into pregnancy care, Dr. Kulhay says it may be in her genes. Both her great-grandmothers practiced midwifery in Eastern Europe, and shes always been strongly attracted to treating babies and children.
Dr. Kulhay graduated from the University of Toronto in 1978, where she majored in Science and Nutrition. She then obtained her Bachelor of Education and proceeded to Chiropractic College, finishing in 1983 with a 4th year thesis on pregnancy and children.
Appropriate diet and specific supplements greatly contribute to an easier childbirth.
She began working with an older, wiser chiropractor, Dr. Herbert Lee, who taught her some techniques suitable for pregnant women. Following extensive research and a pediatric seminar in the U.S., she perceived a lack of and need for specialized pregnancy care. Thus, she developed her own techniques and designed a pregnancy pillow to ease chiropractic adjustments.
In 1985 she opened Canadas first recognized medical chiropractic clinic, which employed three physicians and a massage therapist, plus herself. Today the Kulhay Wellness Centre has 30+ health professionals offering services from acupuncture to reflexology to progressive mainstream medicine.
Dr. Kulhay delights in every one of her patient’s successes. One of her fondest memories is that of Mary, who’d previously given birth to four girls with labour each time exceeding 30 hours. Under Dr. Kulhay’s care, Mary’s next birth was joyful and easy delivering a son in just three and a half hours. She jokingly laughs, she helped shorten Mary’s length of labour but could take no credit for the sex of the child, upon the birth of her son.
Asked if her patients are eternally grateful, Dr. Kulhay smiles.They can’t wait to phone me after the birth.My patients cry a lot. It is so rewarding for me that often we all cry together. I’m honored to have five babies named Katrina . . . and yes, I receive lots of thank you gift baskets.
To date Dr. Kulhay has treated 5,000 pregnant Moms of her 23,000 patients, and as she is told by her adoring patients, and has her place in Heaven set for sure!
Note: Dr. Kulhay has offered to mail readers a sheet of illustrated pregnancy stretches, provided the written request is accompanied by a nominal fee of $10 (cheque or money order) and a stamped self-addressed envelope. Should readers wish to receive Dr. Kulhay’s 20 Page Pregnancy Booklet full of excellent pregnancy and baby suggestions, they can enclose $20.00. Write to The Kulhay Wellness Centre, 165 Main Street, Box 209, Erin, Ontario, N0B 1T0.
Lorrie Imbert, was the Associate Editor of HEALTH NATURALLY, and is a Registered Nutritional Consultant and Lifestyle Counsellor. She has a private practice in Toronto and also works as a freelance writer specializing in health. Lorrie is also a Director of the Nutritional Consultants Organization of Canada.
This article was reprinted with the permission of Lorrie Imbert
and HEALTH NATURALLY MAGAZINE ( JUNE / JULY 1993 )