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Ask the Doulas Episode 62: Newborn Traumas

What is birth trauma and do all babies experience it? How can you remedy it? Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness Chiropractic give us several examples of common birth traumas, what they mean, and how chiropractic care can help. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes.

Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas. This is Kristin, and I’m here with my business partner, Alyssa.

Alyssa: Hello!

Kristin: And we have Dr. Annie from Rise Wellness, as well as Dr. Rachel. Today we are talking about birth trauma with babies and how a chiropractor can help them, especially since you have a focus on newborns. So, Annie, tell us some different ways that you can help parents.

Dr. Annie: Sure. Well, first, I want to talk about what birth trauma means. It’s not necessarily that all births are categorized as traumatic births, but let’s say there is a lot of pressure on the mom and the baby while the natural birth process is happening. So even with a natural birth, there can still be some things that show up in little kiddos after. But if there is any sort of birth trauma, if Mom has to get an epidural, that can affect the baby. If there are risks of C-section, stuff like that, any of those red flags that are happening during labor, that can all lead to birth trauma, too.

Dr. Rachel: You’re probably wondering why an epidural would even effect the baby and create more of a birth trauma. What happens is when Mom gets an epidural, you can’t feel from the waist down, so we can’t feel when we’re supposed to push. So what happens is that the baby’s head puts more pressure on the cervix that you can’t feel, and it can cause some birth injury in the cervical spine. Minor, but it can still have effects later on.

Dr. Annie: Yes. And then they’re also more likely to need intervention at birth, too, so whether that’s help pulling the baby out by the head and neck or if that’s use of forceps or vacuum-assisted. And all of those put a lot of pressure on the upper cervical spine of the baby, where the neck is, and your spinal cord goes through that area. So that’s what we find in kiddos, even after a natural birth process, but especially in those instances where there’s been a lot of intervention. We see a lot of upper cervical misalignment that affects the nervous system. And so what we want is to take care of is correcting that misalignment so that they can develop the way that they’re supposed so that their bodies work. A lot of people think of brachial plexus injuries in kids, when the shoulder gets stuck and there’s traction on the brachial plexus, but if there’s enough traction there to injure those nerves in the arm, there’s enough pressure just in a natural birth that can affect the whole nervous system through the neck.

Kristin: We find with breastfeeding there can be some issues with the latch or a baby preferring one side to the other, and that could be, obviously, remedied by chiropractor care. Maybe something happened during birth where they’re just having some issues with their neck and alignment and so on.

Dr. Rachel: Yeah, that’s super common. We see that. That’s one of the first signs that there could have been upper cervical misalignment is if a baby prefers one side or one breast when they’re breastfeeding or if they have latching difficulty because that all has to do with how they can turn their head, how the muscles in their face are working, what position their jaw is in. So we see that a lot, and when we do home visits, that’s often for a baby who’s head is turned to one side, and then we can correct that with a simple gentle adjustment, and then it’s amazing. They breastfeed like a champ after that.

Dr. Annie: I would say a big one, too, right now is the torticollis and the flat head. I would say that’s later; you see that later, but it probably started with favoring nursing or with latching difficulty that didn’t get corrected. They’re favoring, so they always want to turn to one side. And then they hyper-develop those muscles on that side, and then just further down the road, it becomes harder and harder to correct.

Dr. Rachel: That’s why we always say it’s good to get your babies checked.

Alyssa: Maybe that’s why I’m so lumpy on this side!

Dr. Rachel: It’s probably your parents’ fault! I blame everything on my parents!

Alyssa: I had no idea!

Dr. Rachel: It all started with the birth!

Kristin: And then, certainly, babies that are colicky or have other issues at birth can be helped by chiropractor care. That’s an easy fix?

Dr. Annie: Yeah. And we’ll say this, just so people don’t think we’re crazy. There was a study done by an MD, Gutman, and he found spinal injury present in 80% of infants examined shortly after birth.

Dr. Rachel: Out of a thousand births.

Dr. Annie: Yeah. Causing interference to neurological and immune function. So like I said, even just the natural birth process. I mean, think about it. If they’re pulling — what is it, 60 to 90 pounds of axial pressure, they say? So even a natural delivery. And just the whole process of babies going through. The uterus contracting; that’s going to cause some sort of distress on that spine.

Dr. Rachel: And we see that. I mean, we see other things, too, in kiddos who ended up C-section. Because they don’t go through the vaginal canal, they don’t get that compression, and so when they’re pulled out of the abdomen, they have a lot of those issues, too, but then their lungs aren’t cleared of fluid and stuff, so then they’re more likely to have allergies and asthma and stuff like that, too, because of those things never getting corrected.

Kristin: So can you explain to our listeners what an adjustment for a newborn is like so they can rest assured that it’s very gentle?

Dr. Rachel: Yes. So the ICPA says you’re going to use the same amount of pressure that you would use to check the ripeness of a tomato. So it is so gentle. If you push your finger on your eyelid, the amount of pressure that you can just feel — that’s how much pressure we’re using to adjust a newborn, especially.

Dr. Annie: We’re using our pinkies. There’s no instrument; there’s no twisting, cracking, popping.

Kristin: And I think that’s what people imagine is the cracking. So it’s not like that? And the fact that you do home visits is amazing, so people can come to your office here in East Town, and for certain cases with newborns, you’ll go to their homes. That’s so wonderful!

Dr. Annie: We do that with most of the moms that we’ve seen throughout their pregnancy. As soon as their baby is born, they call us up and ask us to come over to their house and check the baby, please.

Kristin: And do you also adjust the mom when you do these home visits?

Dr. Rachel: We usually do. I think almost every time. And sometimes Dad, if Dad’s home.

Dr. Annie: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s important for the whole family. Birth is stressful! It’s stressful on everybody. It’s stressful on the mom’s spinal mechanics and on her body, but emotionally stressful on both parents, too.

Dr. Rachel: And on your body. We see doulas after the birth!

Kristin: You are so helpful to me after a birth because we have some recovery, as well, especially if it’s a physical birth, or even if it’s not as physical and my client’s sleeping with an epidural and I’m trying to get rest in a waiting room and kind of shoving myself into these strange positions on a chair to sleep. I definitely recover faster and my immune system is much stronger as a result of chiropractic care, so I appreciate you both! Thank you for explaining some of the remedies for different newborn traumas they experience. How can we find you?

Dr. Annie: You can find us on our website. Or you can find us on Facebook and Instagram. Both are @risewellnesschiro. It’s probably the best way to find us and get in contact with us.

Kristin: You’re still accepting new patients, correct?

Dr. Annie: Yep!

Kristin: Awesome.

Dr. Annie: Oh, yeah, we’ll take all the babies!

Kristin: Thank you so much for chatting with us, Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel, and we will see you next time!

Dr. Annie: Thanks for having us!

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