The Benefits of Postpartum Chiropractic Care

There are many benefits of postpartum chiropractic care for new moms such as getting better quality sleep, improving posture and relieving upper and lower back pain.

How soon after birth would a mom have her baby examined by a chiropractor? And what would the chiropractor be checking for?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, those are great questions. I’m going to actually answer the second part of that question first, what would the chiropractor be checking for? Any time you visit a chiropractor, he should be checking, or she should be checking for what’s called a vertebral subluxation. A vertebral subluxation is when one of the bones in the neck or the back is misaligned, or it’s not in its proper alignment with the vertebrae above it and the vertebrae below it. And what makes that important is that exiting from in between two adjacent vertebrae or those two bones are those delicate spinal nerves. That’s how they exit from the spinal cord and then connect up to your heart, lungs, kidneys, spleen, all those important organs. You’re always checking for what’s called a vertebral subluxation, because when those bones misalign and they put pressure or irritate a nerve, that’s going to change the way the nerve system functions. And since that nerve system is the master system controlling everything else in that baby’s body and every stage of growth and development, it’s important to have that checked as soon as possible.

The earliest I’ve ever checked an infant was six hours old. That infant was one of my staffers’ kids. She was born in the hospital. We went up to the hospital, we were invited in, and as soon as we had a moment, she just handed me the baby and said, “Check him.” So that happens all the time. I always get asked. Typically by moms who’ve done their pregnancy work with our office are more likely to be the ones to request it because they have different education. But I always recommend as soon as possible, because if you’re lucky enough to have your baby head down for six to eight weeks before the birth and that neck in the flex position, that can put a little stress in there.

And then the subluxation can be really from the birth process. Once the baby’s head crowns, usually the doctor is going to turn that head about 30 to 45 degrees in order to get the shoulders to align vertical with the birth canal, and the first subluxation can actually happen then. So, we typically recommend to do it as early as possible just for the checkup. Most of the time it’s usually just the neck because these newborns haven’t been weight-bearing or exposed to stress, tension, or poor posture. But always the neck, because that’s where every nerve in the body passes through the ring of atlas from top down. So, it’s very important to have a baby checked as soon as possible.

Can you discuss the benefits of chiropractic care for new moms during postpartum, specifically for their lower back, hips, and pelvis?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely. During pregnancy there’s an increased load put on the body. Most moms are going to gain 25 to 30 pounds, the center of gravity is going to move anterior, then you actually push this baby out. So, between those three things, the pelvic floor has been stressed, stretched, and weight had been put on. And so, it’s pretty stressful on the pelvic floor and on the lower back, the hips, and pelvis. Getting them checked as soon as possible is going to alleviate any discomfort resulting from birth or from carrying.

One of the important things is to remember that chiropractic is always going to be good whether there’s pain or not. Most people make the decision to visit a chiropractor based on how much pain they have. But really, postpartum you’re going to be lifting your baby, you’re going to be carrying the baby, you’re going to be bending forward and leaning over them to care for them. You’ll be leaning over and breastfeeding.

All those things put stress on Mommy’s neck and back. And if you add that to the existing stress into the lower back and hip and pelvis from actually carrying and delivering that child, it creates a perfect storm. And that can really put a lot of misalignment into the spine and cause a lot of physical stress and discomfort for the moms.

The other portion is, just like we talked about the baby, the neuro-emotional part of it. Once moms have these kids, there can be postpartum depression. There’s a lot of stress to caring for the new life. So, some of these moms get depressed, and sometimes when we’re working with the spine and balancing out the neural structures, we see a balance come to the sympathetic and parasympathetic, and that can lead to better emotional well-being for the mom as well. So, there are a lot of reasons to get checked. Just the physical stress of caring for the new baby and the physical stress of carrying and delivering all lead up to the fact that moms need to be checked as soon as possible pre- and postpartum, equally as important.

You did touch on this, but let’s dive in a little deeper. New moms often develop neck and upper back pain and poor posture due to bending over and caring for their new baby. How can a chiropractor help them?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, really chiropractic is universal and the approach is always the same. We detect and remove those misalignments, or what we call vertebral subluxations. When we find those vertebral subluxations, that’s because the bone is not lined up properly. It’s usually fixed or stuck in that abnormal position. And then we usually, with gentle pressure in a very specific direction at the right time, we can make the adjustment. And when we make an adjustment to the spine, it keeps the bones lined up, keeps the muscles and joints moving well, which improves the mechanics. When we have improved mechanics and better alignment, it keeps pressure off the nerve system. And the important thing is really not allowing these things to progress.

Again, people wait until there’s enough pain or discomfort before they get checked. And by then the postures are set up and these new biomechanical patterns have been accepted by the body, so it takes more time to undo them. So very important, just because of the new life, instead of just being vertical all the time, hunched over, putting strain on the neck, breastfeeding, lifting, carrying all will create stress on the spine, which eventually will lead to those misalignments or subluxations. And with pressure on the nervous system, there’s no way a mom could be as healthy as she can be. And again, it really helps with that neuro-emotional balance and keeps Mom relatively happy and pain-free. And the happier and more pain-free, the better the parenting experience goes for both.

That leads right to my next question. New moms are under a lot of stress. How can chiropractors help prepare their bodies to handle the stress of being a new mother and stay as healthy as possible?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, we all know health is a properly functioning nerve system, because through our nerve system is how we interface with the world. Right now, I’m sitting down, I can feel my bottom in the chair, I’m talking, that’s my nerve system. I can feel everything that’s going on, it’s my nerve system. I’m using my brain to make decisions, it’s my nerve system. And when my nerve system gets excited from stress, my body cranks out a lot of adrenaline and cortisol. And adrenaline is keeping Mom in fight or flight. And cortisol also does some things that are really important in the body. When your body’s releasing a lot of cortisol, it actually shuts off the immune system and keeps the sugar in your bloodstream. So, it prevents insulin from doing its job. And if we spend a lot of time in stress and we’re in sympathetic overdrive, it affects our blood sugar regulation and that can cause a host of health issues as well.

But really most importantly is trying to get the body to deal with the physical manifestations of stress. When we’re stressed out, the muscles are tighter, they might pull more, that can create more misalignment or more subluxations in the spine and put pressure on those delicate spinal nerves. And when the nerves are irritated and the mind is going non-stop, again, we’re going to remain in that adrenalized state, which makes the muscles tighter, shuts off the immune system, doesn’t really allow the body to heal. So, whenever we have a lot of stress, chiropractors can’t make the stress go away, but we can certainly help you with the physical manifestations of the stress, which are the tight muscles and the changing body chemistry.

By improving the input to the nerve system and getting pressure off those nerves, it helps the body rebalance those chemicals and keep you in good neural, hormonal regulation. That’s what’s most important for the new moms, handling the stress of being the new mom as it comes at her, not waiting until there’s enough pain or discomfort before they do that. So just keeping the mom on a nice even keel, making sure that she doesn’t have any pain or discomfort that prevents her from caring for the infant to the best of her ability.

Lack of sleep plagues new mothers during the postpartum days. How can chiropractic care help women sleep better when they have the chance?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, we touched a little bit on that. The moms are under a lot of stress. These kids are constantly waking up and they’re crying. And if you’re a new mom and it’s your first time and you don’t know why the baby’s crying, that can put stress on you. And every time we have anxiety and worry and stress, it’s going to affect our sleep cycles. Our sleep cycles, when our bodies start cranking out the serotonin and the sleep hormones, our body starts to shut down and goes to a good place and rest. And again, if we can stimulate more of the parasympathetic, which is more about resting, relaxing, and healing, in the nerve system and we do that typically by stimulating the areas in the upper cervical spine and down towards the lower part of the pelvis, which is the parasympathetics, it helps the mom just relax more and gives her better body chemistry and better neuro-regulation, which should help her get into her sleep cycle a little bit better.

When a mom has less pain and less stress, she’s generally happier. That’s going to balance the hormones, because when we’re in dysregulation and we’re under stress, the mind is going too much, the body’s adrenalized and has all these chemicals in it that aren’t really prone to letting the mother sleep. So, it’s important. It’s not a panacea, chiropractic is not like a sleeping pill, and there’s no guarantee if you come in and get adjusted that you’re going to sleep like a baby for weeks on end. But it’s really about making sure that these things don’t accumulate and lead to bigger problems later. So, sleep, if the kid’s yelling and screaming, well, sometimes adjusting the kid will help calm that baby down as well and help with the colicky things, so moms can get some more sleep that way. But either way, when you’re sleep deprived, your body chemistry is out of balance, and it just makes everything harder and it’s another form of stress. And chiropractic is a great way to help you deal with the physical manifestations of stress.

The other thing is, there are plenty of people who deal with postpartum depression and things and people you can talk to and moms groups and support groups. So, it’s always great to be connected on the mental and the physical level, because life is just a union of that mental intelligence and physical matter, and that’s really what life is. But it’s a hard thing for new moms. And we help a lot of moms really just get back to a good quality of life. And that gives me so much joy and satisfaction, to see these moms coming in looking like a train wreck, and then after a couple of visits looking better, having more energy, and getting better quality sleep. So, it’s an honor to help those moms in need.

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To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit or call (212) 977-7094 to schedule an appointment.

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