Ask the Doulas Episode 49: Adjusting Babies
Do babies really need a chiropractic adjustment? Listen to Dr. Annie of Rise Wellness explain what happens to a baby’s body during pregnancy and delivery and how gentle methods can be extremely effective. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes.
Alyssa: Hi, welcome back to another episode of Ask the Doulas. I am Alyssa, postpartum doula and co-owner at Gold Coast, and we are talking to Dr. Annie again who is a local chiropractor. Hello!
Dr. Annie: Hello!
Alyssa: Last time you were here, we talked about your Webster certification and what that means for pregnant mothers, and I know that you specifically can work with — there’s a pediatric end to this?
Dr. Annie: Yes!
Alyssa: So tell me what you do with babies and kids and what do you say to parents who are maybe scared to bring their newborn in for a chiropractic adjustment? What does it look like?
Dr. Annie: So first of all, I’d like to say it’s a huge honor when a mom is willing to hand you their newborn baby and ask me to check their baby.
Alyssa: They get it, right?
Dr. Annie: Yeah, they get it, which is such a beautiful thing. They understand that the nervous system runs everything in the body and how important that is in development, in development of a child. So that’s just an awesome honor. I’ve had the opportunity to adjust a few newborns the day after they were born, which is so exciting. The analysis and adjustment for an infant is different. For anyone who’s familiar with chiropractic care, it can be kind of scary for some adults even. Analysis and adjustment of an infant is totally different from that. We say that the amount of pressure that you use to adjust an infant is the same that you would use if you wanted to check the ripeness of a tomato.
Alyssa: It’s very gentle, right?
Dr. Annie: Very, very, very gentle.
Alyssa: I’ve seen you adjust newborn babies in the hospital, Dr. Rachel’s babies. Very, very gentle.
Dr. Annie: It is, yeah, and part of that is because their spine is still cartilage. They’re not ossified yet, so we’re not trying to move bones.
Alyssa: They probably wouldn’t even crack if you tried, right?
Dr. Annie: No, no, exactly. You’re not looking for an audible crack in a child. No, not at all. We don’t do anything like that. Again, this is more — especially with kids, we’re looking a lot more at the neurology and how that is affected, and so in order to influence the neurology and make sure that everything is working appropriately and lined up appropriately, it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to adjust them. Now, why would we adjust an infant? I always think that’s a good question because babies don’t have back pain. A lot of people think that’s what chiropractic is good for. But when kids are coming through the birth canal, everything is compressed. The sutures kind of fold over each other, and then when the baby comes through, they’re often pulled out by their neck and tractioned by their neck, so that can lead to the very first subluxation. If they aren’t in the correct position for labor, once the uterus starts contracting — so let’s say a baby’s breech. Once the uterus starts contracting, it’s going to push down on the top of their head, too, so that can cause compression to their cervical spine. Kids who are born via C-section don’t go through the birth canal, but still, they find the head and then they pull them and kind of twist them as they’re coming out of the mom’s uterus, and they will pull them out like that. So there’s still a lot of traction that is placed on the infant’s cervical spine, and so that traction can misalign their bones in the very beginning. Now, if you have a misalignment there and your brain isn’t communicating with your body, that’s the main way that kids are getting their sensory input. That’s how they’re developing their brain, so being able to adjust them right when they’re born is an amazing thing. You can set them up for an entirely different life just by changing that sensory input and making sure that everything is in good alignment so they can develop appropriately.
Alyssa: I had clients who had horrible colic and their babies just won’t stop crying and they don’t know why, and oftentimes a chiropractic adjustment takes care of that for several reasons. You know, if things aren’t talking, or maybe there is some sort of pain, right? Even for nine months, you’re curved up in the fetal position. I mean, I’ve got to imagine that’s maybe not putting strain on an infant’s back, but…
Dr. Annie: I don’t know why, but there’s a common misconception that babies don’t feel pain the way that adults do, but that’s totally wrong. That comes up in the circumcision talk, which is way out of my scope, but babies do feel pain. They do feel that, and if you have a colicky baby, I think parents are attuned with their children enough to see that they’re in pain.
Alyssa: There’s something causing the pain.
Dr. Annie: Absolutely. And so with colic, with GERD and reflux and things like that, things that kids often have trouble with, the mechanism for that is that the rest of the body is run by your nervous system. Your brain coordinates and controls everything that goes on in your system, so if there is a miscommunication there, then things can’t function the way that they’re supposed to. So that’s why getting an adjustment can help with those issues. So it’s not necessarily that we’re treating the colic or we’re treating the constipation or ear infection. That’s another big thing that parents will bring their kids to a chiropractor for is ear infections. We’re not treating those things directly. What we’re doing is we’re treating the subluxation, the misalignment, that’s affecting the nervous system and allowing that to clear up, allowing the communication to restore, and allowing the body to heal itself the way it’s supposed to.
Alyssa: So what would you tell somebody who just doesn’t get chiropractic care? They don’t understand why you would need it, why would I bring my baby there. You know, if the body can heal itself, let it heal itself. What do you say to that? How do you counter that?
Dr. Annie: I do think the body can heal itself, which is awesome, as long as it has the right tools and the right resources and the right communication. So if you didn’t work out or if you didn’t eat healthy, your body could still function pretty well for a while until diseases and things like that caught up with it. The body is really good at adapting until it isn’t. But kind of the same thing: if you have a misalignment causing that interference to the communication, your body is going to keep functioning pretty good until it doesn’t, and so the thing with that interference to the nervous system is that we don’t necessarily see those things on a day-to-day basis stacking up. Sometimes people will have trauma and it’s like, this is what caused this misalignment and ever since then, I’ve had neck pain, and I just need that to be adjusted back. But a lot of times, it’s a lot of little things that are contributing, and then we say, you know, what was the one thing that triggered this? Well, it wasn’t. It was a lot of things. It was probably since childhood when you were born and you were pulled out and then you started walking and maybe you kept falling onto your butt or you fell out of a tree as a kid or you broke your arm falling off the playground and things like that accumulate, and then when we’re adults, we have all this pain. So why not address that when we’re a child? Why not make sure everything is lined up, everything is communicating the way that it’s supposed to and healing the way it’s supposed to so then those things don’t compound down the road? It’s much more preventative and wellness model rather than trying to fix you when you’re old and crickety.
Alyssa: Which is a hard concept for some people to understand, right? Like actually preventing these things from happening in the first place.
Dr. Annie: Right. But a lot of times, that is something that a lot of people will have to find out on their own, too. I’m here for education and information. If somebody doesn’t want to trust that, then…
Alyssa: They can come in and pick your brain for a little bit, right?
Dr. Annie: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll answer any questions they have, but sometimes you have to find out information on your own.
Alyssa: Right, until, like you said, we’re good at adapting until it doesn’t. And then when it doesn’t, then that’s when you go, oh, yeah, maybe she was right.
Dr. Annie: And usually it’s something small like picking up a laundry basket, and it’s like, I threw out my back just picking up this laundry basket!
Alyssa: Tell us where people can find Rise Wellness.
Dr. Annie: You can find us online at our website. Or we’re also on Facebook and Instagram at @risewellnesschiro.
Alyssa: Email us at email@example.com. Thanks for joining us!