Chiropractic care for pregnancy and babies
Written by Dr Carrie Rigoni (Chiropractor)
Chiropractic care for pregnancy and babies is a growing field, with more and more families seeking natural health alternatives. There are many chiropractors in Perth who focus on this area, myself included. I want to share with you the approach I take with mums and babies, which is chiropractic, applied kinesiology and neurodevelopment all rolled into one.
Chiropractic care during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time when your body is making some rapid changes. Not only do you gain the weight of carrying around another human and everything required to sustain it, but your posture also changes very rapidly. On top of that, your joints begin to loosen to allow transit of baby through your birth canal, meaning nothing is going to want to stay in one place for long!
Women can often complain of lower back pain, pelvic pain, or groin pain during pregnancy. This may indicate instability in the pelvis joints (such as symphysis pubis pain), or increased pressure due to a larger arch in the lower back. Pregnant women may also get thoracic pain as their breasts begin to grow and their upper back attempts to compensate for the growing belly and changing lower back posture.
It is also common for women to experience headaches during pregnancy. While some of these may be triggered by the neck, headaches during pregnancy can also be related to hormones, stress and diet.
There is some evidence to suggest that chiropractic during pregnancy may assist in reduced length of labour, less pain in labour, and alleviation of lower back pain in pregnancy as opposed to women who did not receive chiropractic.
The nervous system of a pregnant woman changes throughout her pregnancy and it’s important to find a practitioner who understands this. Hormones and nutritional changes can cause changes in the nervous system and impact the mother’s quality of life. Women often see me (as a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist) for support during pregnancy.
Chiropractic care for babies
Chiropractors who are trained to see babies understand that babies are not just small adults. Chiropractic care for babies is performed in a gentle and respectful way.
Many mothers bring their babies to the chiropractor for a general checkup after birth. There is some evidence to suggest that birth (usually in the presence of certain risk factors) can cause musculoskeletal ‘trauma’ to babies, whether that be a mild strain in neck muscles, or head shape moulding, all the way through to fractures in collarbones and shoulder dystocia.
The biggest thing I tell parents is that birth doesn’t necessarily guarantee the level of structural correction that is required. Humans are complex, we have many layers and there are many factors that can affect a baby’s disposition including nutrition and stress during pregnancy, the birth, their attachment to their caregivers after birth and also their genes.
What this means is clinically I’ve seen babies who have had a birth completely free of intervention still have torticollis and babies with emergency c-sections with happy bodies. So never beat yourself up about the birth, particularly if it didn’t go as you planned.
Chiropractic care for babies uses pressure similar to feeling the ripeness of an avocado. Structural corrections do not make ‘crack’ noises in babies as their bones are still primarily cartilage, and their little bodies just do not need it. In my practice, I use neurological signs and applied kinesiology to determine whether there are underlying markers of ‘stress.’ These markers are often easily resolved in babies (as compared to adults!) and I believe they’re important enough to keep an eye on throughout childhood.
The most common thing I see in practice is jaw (TMJ) dysfunction, which from a neurological perspective can cause many symptoms in a baby. These symptoms include irritability, head-turning preference (and flat spot), feeding difficulties (especially latch and swallow), and wakefulness. The TMJ is linked to the vagus nerve so any issues with the jaw may also create digestive complaints such as fussing, reflux and apparent allergies.
The brain develops through healthy movement, adequate nutrition and a secure attachment to caregivers. In such an important time in your baby’s brain development, it’s important to choose a practitioner who understands phases of development and what age-appropriate milestones are.
I’d love to hear if you’ve had a positive experience with chiropractic for pregnancy or a baby chiropractor?
You can find out more information about what I offer on my website.