by Dr. Mandy Jo Dietz
When you find out you’re expecting a baby (or two), there is a sudden urgency to know everything you can about pregnancy, birth and caring for your baby. At least that was my experience. As a chiropractor, mother of thirteen-month-old twin girls, and a woman who experienced an extremely high risk pregnancy, I can share with you the most important information you may ever hear about chiropractic, pregnancy, birth and caring for your baby.
Most people hear “chiropractor” and think neck and back pain. That’s not exactly right. Chiropractic care ensures that your nervous system is functioning at full capacity which means your body is functioning at full capacity. Your nervous system controls absolutely everything in your body. It communicates by sending messages from your brain, down your spinal cord, through nerves that exit between the vertebrae (bones) in your spine going to every organ, muscle and cell in your body and back again. There are 24 moveable bones in your spine, all connected, between your skull and your sacrum or tail bone. When the bones in your spine are misaligned or unable to move correctly, it puts pressure on nerves and causes interference in the communication of your nervous system. This condition is called subluxation, and is caused by physical, chemical and emotional stress. Simply put, your body is not working as well as it could!
Chiropractors evaluate your spine and nervous system. We perform examinations and specific tests to determine if you have subluxations. If a subluxation is found, we perform chiropractic adjustments, a gentle thrust to a specific bone, to move the bone back to the correct position and remove pressure from the nerves. By removing this interference, your body will begin functioning properly and restore health. Chiropractors are the only health care professionals specifically trained to identify and correct subluxations.
So what does this have to do with pregnancy? It makes sense to have your brain, your nerves and your body all consistently communicating as clearly as possible in order to create this new life. This means your entire body is functioning better and working to develop your baby with the greatest potential. Not only does chiropractic care aid in the development of your baby, but it also keeps you healthier and stronger.
During pregnancy, your body goes through dramatic changes as your baby grows and develops. Hormonal changes as well as structural changes allow your body to shift and adapt to accommodate a growing baby and upcoming birth, thus increasing stress to your spine and nervous system. Regular chiropractic care during pregnancy can help your body eliminate aches and pains, reduce nausea, increase energy levels, keep your immune system strong, maintain healthy sleeping patterns, increase concentration and allow your body to adapt to constant changes. Your body functions better as a whole and keeps both you and your baby as healthy as possible throughout your pregnancy.
Misalignments present during pregnancy can create space constraints and, as your baby grows, he or she might not have the necessary space to turn into the correct position. Most often, babies turn in utero to the vertex position (head down) for birth. When there is not sufficient room due to pelvic misalignments, the baby remains breech (bottom down) and this can mean a more difficult birth or a cesarean section. Specific chiropractic techniques and adjustments are used during pregnancy to keep the pelvis aligned, release tight ligaments attached to the uterus and allow the baby maximum space to turn into proper position.
Regular chiropractic care not only makes for a better pregnancy, but it also means a better birthing experience. There are many aspects of birth that may improve by receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy. Hormones are responsible for your pelvis and joints being able to open and allow the baby to come through the birth canal and for your body to structurally adapt to carrying and birthing a full term baby. Our bodies are truly amazing! However, these changes can create structural stress that can have the potential to cause birth to be difficult.
For instance, when the bones in your spine and pelvis shift to accommodate your baby and changing weight distribution, it can cause misalignments in the pelvis and spine. Your pelvis is a group of five different bones with several joints. When they are misaligned and have restricted movement, it means they are less able to move during birth and can create a smaller space for the baby to travel down the birth canal. Chiropractic researcher, Dr. Joan Fallon, found in her studies that first time mothers receiving chiropractic care had a 24% reduction in average labor time compared to women not receiving chiropractic care. Comparing women having subsequent births, the labor time was reduced by 39% (1). Regular chiropractic care makes pregnancy and birth a better experience overall for both mother and baby. When the baby arrives, it is essential that he or she be checked for subluxations by a chiropractor.
The birthing process is traumatic for babies as it affects them physically and emotionally. No matter how your baby is birthed, there is rotation of the head, neck and body during the process. Even though this can be a normal stress to your baby, it can cause misalignments so it is important to check the entire spine for subluxations. The most common misalignment is of the atlas, the very top bone in the spine that surrounds the brain stem. This bone is responsible for rotation of the head and is the most important and vulnerable bone in the spine.
When infants have subluxations, their bodies are not healing and functioning as well as they could be. When they are adjusted and have a fully functioning nervous system, their bodies resolve ear infections, reflux, constipation, sleep disturbances, colic, difficulty in movements such as rolling over, crawling, and walking, trouble nursing, difficulty latching to nurse, and weak immune systems. Most importantly, it ensures they are developing and growing to their full potential.
Chiropractic adjustments for infants are different than adjustments for adults. A very slight and gentle pulse is applied to the specific misaligned bone using no more than a finger tip. Sometimes, an adjusting tool called an activator is used to very delicately move the bone back into the correct position. As your baby grows, adjusting techniques change slightly, but are always very gentle and safe.
I’ve always known the benefits of regular chiropractic care, but it wasn’t until my pregnancy and the birth of our twins that I truly experienced the power of chiropractic and how greatly it affects pregnancy, birth and infant health. I’ve addressed the most important aspects, but there is a great deal of additional information and research available. I gladly serve as a source for more information and additional resources.
Contact Dr. Mandy at DrMandy@DrMandyChiro.com or 701.223.8413. Life Expressions Family Chiropractic is located at 418 E. Broadway, Suite 222 in downtown Bismarck.