Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy: Meet Dr. Brie Kemp
Chiropractic care during pregnancy has become a common way to treat the aches and pains in the lower back and hips that are often part of the experience. In fact, approximately 50%1 of pregnant women will experience back pain at some point before they deliver. Chiropractic care is the health maintenance of the spinal column and the adjustment of misaligned joints. It doesn’t involve drugs or surgery, so it is a natural choice for expecting moms seeking pain relief, the ability perform daily activities, and a better overall pregnancy and childbirth experience. Dr. Brie Kemp from Live Well Chiropractic in Wexford, PA, recently took some time to talk with New Mommy Pittsburgh about the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy and beyond.
Meet Dr. Brie Kemp from Live Well Chiropractic
While many chiropractors have a story about how chiropractic has helped them, Dr. Brie says she never thought she would become a chiropractor, even though she had been seeing one since she was 15. “I wanted to be in healthcare and was pre-med while in undergrad. I always thought maybe I’d become a pediatrician.” After doing some job shadowing with professionals in various medical fields, Dr. Brie gained some clarity. “I remember one cardiologist I shadowed saying, ‘I try to give as much nutritional advice as I can, but I only have so much time with each patient, they don’t want to hear it, and they just want me to write them a prescription.’ So I started asking, what else is there in health care?”
After shadowing her own chiropractor for a day, Dr. Brie was convinced this was a better career path for her – and one that would fit with her values and goals. “He knew the families, he knew the patients. He would see them sometimes for symptoms but also for overall health and wellness. It really fit with my lifestyle and what I want to contribute to the world.”
Major Milestones and Proof of Concept
Valedictorian and graduate of Palmer College in 2006, chiropractic is a calling for Dr. Brie. “I love people and I really love what I do, so it makes it easy.” It wasn’t until she was in practice for a few years that she really focused on family and pregnancy care although opportunities kept coming her way to do so, even when in school. “We worked in a clinic the last year of school and I always got a lot of the moms and they’d bring their families in, so I also had a lot of experience with kids.” In addition to her training at Palmer College, Dr. Brie is certified by the ICPA to work with children and infants. She is Webster Technique certified, a tool used to establish pelvic balance and alignment during pregnancy which is crucial.
Focusing on pregnancy and family care hasn’t always been easy as it opposes advice Dr. Brie has received at times from coaches within the profession. “It’s funny because there are a lot of practice management coaches in chiropractic, mostly men, and they think they’re smarter than everyone. I would always get told that if you are only seeing pregnant women and kids and families, you aren’t going to make enough money. You need to do the auto accidents, you need to do the back pain, etc., you need to do the personal injury cases that pay better. I love seeing people who are 40, 50, 60 plus who are not pregnant and who need relief. Those cases are just as important, but I always have had a passion for helping women though pregnancy and seeing families, so that is what I do.”
Celebrating 10 years of owning her own practice in February this year is a major milestone and proof of concept and need in the community. “Once I had bought my own practice, I was able to do a little more of what I wanted to do since I wasn’t responsible to someone else (as I was in my first few years of practice) who had to pay the bills. It was the best thing I could do for myself since I’ve been able to create a sense of community and attract the type of clients that we’re really good at helping and who are committed to their health and want support.” Dr. Brie works with Dr. Amy Burleson who is also ICPA and Webster certified and has over 20 years of experience. Dr. Amy has been working for Live Well Chiropractic for 2 years. Says Dr. Brie, “She’s a mom, I’m a mom, and we have similar philosophies.” Dr. Brie’s husband, Dr. Chad Stemmler, also works in the office and specializes in soft tissue treatment called Active Release Treatment (ART), working with many sports teams and athletes. He is one of the very few trauma trained chiropractors in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.
Chiropractic Care Offers Pain Relief for Pregnant Patients…And So Much More
Back pain, sciatica, pubic bone, and round ligament pain are most common symptoms that Dr. Brie treats in pregnant patients. Pain relief is important, says Dr. Brie, but in addition, chiropractic care during pregnancy makes for better movement and the ability to stay active. Pregnancy and birth are often likened to running a marathon, so preparing your body and being able to stay active are keys. “Not only does it make pregnancy more enjoyable, but staying active also reduces the chance for gestational diabetes, blood pressure issues, and more. Your nervous system is free to function, so a lot of women get some relief from digestive problems, constipation, and headaches,” attests Dr. Brie.
For many women, chiropractic care is part of their overall wellness plan regardless of age or stage of life. Nevertheless, a lot of women start care when they hit that point in pregnancy when they are in pain from body changes. “I would say that is commonly around the 24-week mark where there is enough change and enough relaxin in the body where you start getting the lower back pain and pelvic pain.” The goals of chiropractic care during pregnancy are different from when you aren’t expecting. Explains Dr. Brie, “Your body is becoming increasingly unstable, so we’re not going to stabilize it for the long term yet. During pregnancy we’re keeping the body happy, the pelvis balanced and the nervous system working. Once baby comes, then we can do full correction with postpartum care.” Starting chiropractic care earlier is better, but it all varies based on individual patients’ needs.
Dr. Brie laughs, retelling some stories. “I have had women stop in on their way to the hospital and on their way home from the hospital. I had someone who got off the table and her water broke right there in the office. It is fun to be a part of.”
Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy: A Companion to Obstetric Care
How do patients find out about Dr. Brie and team? A lot of her referrals come from women who she has treated during pregnancy. “We have many patients that start seeing us when pregnant and then continue care postpartum and bring their families and husbands in. They tell their friends about us, and women in their mom groups and at their church and their work.” In addition to word of mouth referrals, Live Well Chiropractic and Dr. Brie have laid a lot of groundwork over the years with ob/gyns, midwives and other organizations who refer patients to her. “A lot of times people think there’s a conflict between chiropractors and medical professionals. I’ve worked very hard to have a good relationship with people in my area.” She explains that obstetricians and midwives seem to be the most open to chiropractic because they can’t simply write pregnant patients a prescription for narcotics or muscle relaxers to relieve pain. Dr. Brie views chiropractic during pregnancy as a complement to obstetric care. “If I can get women sleeping better, moving better, feeling better, most of the pregnancy things will be easier. They’ll be more supported. It’s going to be a more pleasant experience, which is overall very important.”
Our state of mind during pregnancy can truly affect our unborn child. As baby grows, it’s not just hearing mom’s heartbeat and whatever songs she might sing to her belly; baby also gets chemical signals through the placenta.2 “There are studies that show that if mom is miserable being pregnant, if she doesn’t stay active, if she has a negative experience, that impacts her child. It’s a cool thing our bodies get to do. Its an amazing experience. If we can make things enjoyable, easier and more comfortable, when that woman goes into labor, she’s ready to go in there and rock that.”
Grateful and Giving Back to the Community
Grateful for her job, family and their amazing patients, Dr. Brie and Live Well Chiropractic make it a point to give back to the community in many ways. They host fundraising events throughout the year and make donations to Urban Impact, an organization supporting the youth and families of Pittsburgh’s North Side with educational, spiritual, and social opportunities. “A patient of ours does coaching with them and that is how we got connected. At Christmas time we do a gift collection for them. We were able to help 42 kids at that time,” says Dr. Brie. Live Well Chiropractic patients were given an opportunity to pick a number off the tree and were able to shop for that child. Afterward, Dr. Brie and team tagged everything and took it to Urban Impact along with donated wrapping paper so parents could wrap and give donated gifts to their children themselves. “It is hard for people to ask for help, right? I would never want a parent to feel like they’re failing. Many of these parents are single parents, working multiple jobs, doing the best they can,” explains Dr. Brie.
Urban Impact helps kids learn and become more independent. One service they provide is a summer day camp. Live Well Chiropractic and their patients were able to help sponsor ten children who wished to attend the camp by holding a BBQ the Thursday after Memorial Day last year. They hope to make it an annual tradition, and patients get something in exchange for donating. “Our patients come and, in lieu of their payment for an adjustment, they give a donation,” notes Dr. Brie.
Seeing Patients Enjoying Life Is the Best Motivation
“The overall human experience is most rewarding,” acknowledges Dr. Brie when asked what drives her. For example, hearing from patients who heal faster after labor or who had an easier birth experience after VBAC keeps her motivated. Hearing about what patients are actually able to do because of chiropractic treatment is just as important as how they feel. Patient testimonials abound for Live Well Chiropractic, but one in particular really hit home with Dr. Brie. “One patient wrote me a thank you card that I have kept by my desk for a long time because it really sums up everything I try to do in the office. The note reads”:
The estimated number of people who seek chiropractic care is in the tens of millions. A previous Gallup survey conducted on behalf of the Palmer College of Chiropractic, based in Davenport, Iowa, found that more than 62 million people have seen a chiropractor since 20113. When asked why some people may be hesitant to add chiropractic wellness care to their already busy lives, Dr. Brie is empathetic but realistic. “People get a lot of stuff thrown at them and they think ‘Oh my gosh, I have to add in one more thing. I have to go to the gym and make meals, etc.’ Well, yeah, you do, or you have to have an expectation of not feeling as well and your body not working as well.”
Dr. Brie concludes, further explaining her philosophy of overall wellness. “Take care of yourself, love yourself, take time for yourself. You don’t have to do everything, but you do have to do something. Chiropractic is not for everyone, and that’s okay, but the benefits are huge. You have to decide what works for you. Every choice you make is going to have an impact. Whether we see people for wellness or because they are in pain, we want people to feel good, stay active and be able to enjoy their life. That’s why we do what we do. We want them to live well.”