The stress of childbirth can affect a baby’s spine. Chiropractors can examine infants and be sure that their spine is optimized for every stage of growth and development. Mothers also experience stress and tension on their bodies during pregnancy and childbirth so chiropractors can also check and adjust their spines to optimize their body function, health and wellness.
How soon after birth would a mom have her baby examined by a chiropractor and what would the chiropractor be checking?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Those are great questions, and most people associate chiropractors with back pain and neck pain. And look, chiropractic has a great handle on druglessly helping people with neck pain, back pain, and headaches, but that’s not all we really do. It’s so much more about the nerve system and keeping the spine and nerve system healthy for the rest of their lives and not just dealing with pain because sensing pain and moving muscle is only about 10% of what the nerve system does.
And a baby is not going to be talking to you about pain. When we’re looking at an infant, typically we want to get that child seen as soon as possible because if the mom is lucky enough to have the baby in the head down position, usually the baby is upside down with the neck flexed for anywhere between three to eight weeks, and just being in that position alone warrants checking the infant’s neck for alignment.
The other thing is that once the baby’s head crowns through delivery, typically the doctor is going to turn the baby’s neck to try and get the shoulders to go vertical so it’s easier to get the baby out. That in and of itself can be a stress to the neck and sometimes cause misalignment. And then sometimes you’ll see infants with infant torticollis or a wry neck where the head flops to one side, they’re not taking a breast or they prefer one or the other, or their head only turns one way, or they get these flat spots because they’re not moving their head equally in the crib.
So, all those things are the important reasons why you should have a baby checked as soon as possible, as soon as the baby is born. If everything looks good, then there’s usually nothing to do, but sometimes that atlas or the upper cervical spine needs to get checked and gently adjusted. So, it’s super easy and generally I recommend doing it asap.
Usually around that time the moms are having trouble because now all of a sudden, they’re bending and leaning over the kid and they’re caring for the child and they’re lifting and bending and wearing the baby out and carrying the Pack ‘n Play and the diaper bags, and it puts a lot of stress on the new mom as well. So usually, they time out really well where I usually see the mom returning for care along with the infants.
For a new mother who’s exhausted caring for her newborn, when is a good time for her to see a chiropractor? And what type of exam or treatment should she expect during her visit?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Wow, I think I kind of answered that a little bit with the previous question, but in reality, for the mom, even giving birth is pretty traumatic. So sometimes we’ll look at the lower back and pelvis and they can have some issues right after birth as well. So, we recommend the mom getting checked, and the examination is kind of similar. We’re always looking for the misalignments in the spine, what we call the vertebral subluxation, and looking at the alignment of the sacrum and the hips and the pelvis and the sacroiliac joints. That’s what’s really important with the mom.
The other thing is they have a lot of neck and upper back problems because their orientation to the world is no longer vertical. They’re bending forward, leaning, looking down at the baby, looking down at the baby when they’re breastfeeding. All those things affect the neck and shoulder. So, it would be a standard chiropractic exam. There isn’t really a special exam to do. When the mom is expecting the Webster protocol requires special analysis to determine the Webster listing. But after that, when she gives birth, she’s just a regular patient like everybody else; just has a little bit more of a different type of stress on her neck and body caring for the infant, usually in beginning.
How can a chiropractor help a new mother feel less stressed, less achy, less uncomfortable, and generally better equipped to manage her day-to-day responsibilities?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: I mean, that’s really what chiropractic deals with. It’s about keeping the spine and nerve system healthier. The healthier your spine and the better aligned it is, the less pain and discomfort you’re going to have really. Because the stability of the neck, when everything is lined up, the spine is really straight and strong and it’s great at handling stress, but over time if the spine loses its proper alignment, it can be weaker and then more likely to subluxate and cause painful conditions.
Immune system function is related to that. So, making sure that when a mom is stressed, that her immune system is strong as possible, because the more stressed we are, the harder it is for our immune system to do the job. And the mom really has to adapt to all these new stresses that we talked about: bending, twisting, lifting, and caring for the baby. And that adds stress. So, it’s really important to make sure that these moms get cared for. And when they’re feeling better, they’re going to be less stressed, they’ll be more comfortable, and then again, the spine that’s straight and strong, she’s better equipped to handle her day-to-day activities and responsibilities without having any increased pain or discomfort.
Are there any issues that she or her baby might experience that new mothers should watch out for during the postpartum days and weeks, that she should mention to a chiropractor?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: We did talk a little bit about this in an earlier question as well. I guess I’m all ahead of the curve here. But when you examine and you look at the baby from a mom’s standpoint of view, they’re very good at noticing like the head tilt or which side they favor if they’re breastfeeding, if they only want the right or they only want the left. So they’re pretty good at kind of looking at that. But they also can see if the baby’s having trouble latching, if there’s the plagiocephaly or the flat spots on the head because they’re not turning and moving around.
They can also look at the progress of the baby, slowed or slow development. Since everything developmentally happens neurologically, and chiropractic affects the nerve system, when we clear out and correct the misalignments that are irritating the nerves, those nerve channels open up and that coordination and every stage of growth and development, which is neuro-regulated, is optimized. So, they grow without restriction, and that’s what we want to see because sometimes if there’s uneven pressure on a growth plate, you’ll see asymmetry that can be the beginning of scoliosis.
So, all these things come into play. And it’s not that the baby is experiencing problems or having pain, but really it’s about optimizing the health of the spine and optimizing the nerve system. Since we interface with the entire world through our nerve system, maintaining a healthy spine, thus improving nerve system function, is key and paramount to good health.
As the baby starts growing and developing, what are some reasons he should be examined by a chiropractor and how often should the baby be seen?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: I mean, besides the general health benefits that everyone should be checked by a chiropractor, often I’ll joke around, but I kind of mean it really, is that every baby should be checked or every person should be checked from the womb to the tomb, right? You want to make sure that everything is optimized through every stage of growth and development. And again, since that nerve system is the master system that controls everything else, when those spinal bones misalign and start to irritate the nerve system and create static in the communication lines, if we can clear that out and optimize the body and get that child’s nerve system working like a DSL or a T1 line, opposed to that crappy dial-up that we had to deal with way back when, we want those kids having the best chance to grow and develop and be optimized so they have their best day every day.
We don’t want people just to survive, we want them to thrive. And that’s really what chiropractic is about. It’s about optimizing the body so people can go out there and live their best day every day without interference through their nerve system and keeping that child healthy and on its best path.
To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call (212) 977-7094 to schedule an appointment.