Category Archives: Pregnancy

How Chiropractic Care Helps Improve Breastfeeding

You have probably heard that Chiropractic care can help with breastfeeding issues. However, you probably have not been told how specifically this can help. There are a wide variety of things that can impact how well a baby is able to breastfeed. Cranial alignment, spinal alignment, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) alignment, fascial restriction, dural restriction, tongue tie, lip tie, cranial nerve function, etc. There are clearly more things that can impact breastfeeding, but these are the major ones in which chiropractors can help. This article will go over each of these aspects and explain how and why they can affect nursing.

Spinal Alignment

Let’s start with spinal alignment. It was found in a study many years ago that up to 95 percent of babies born had some degree of upper cervical misalignment. The Upper cervical consists of the C1 or atlas and the C2 or axis vertebrae. The occiput sits right on the Atlas and closely affects upper cervical alignment as well. Babies go through a traumatic experience being born and most develop some type of misalignment. This upper cervical alignment is very important for several reasons. One is that this is the area of the brain stem. The brain stem is home to many of the vital centers of breathing heart rate blood pressure as well as the origin of many of the cranial nerves that innervate the head, neck, tongue and throat. If there is a misalignment in the upper cervical spine around these areas, then it can lead to inflammation that affects the brain stem function and the cranial nerve function. Altered cranial nerve function can cause an abnormal suck/swallow/breath pattern or affect how the tongue and jaw move to latch and suckle. Upper cervical misalignment can also lead to tight musculature and fascia in the upper neck. This can cause the baby not to be able to open their mouth as wide or hold a latch through the whole suck swallow breath rhythm.

Cranial Alignment

Cranial alignment and movement is very important as well. Proper occipital movement on the atlas allows for the baby to be able to tip and rotate his head optimally to find the nipple and latch. Proper temporal bone motion affects the range of motion of the jaw. The Jaw attaches into the temporal bone so if the temporal bone is not moving the way it is supposed to or it is stuck in an abnormal position it affects how the mandible is able to move in the TMJ and it may get stuck or tight while trying to open in order to latch. Altered temporal motion or positioning can lead to tight fascia or muscles that cross the TMJ. This again can pull the mandible to one side or pull the mandible into the joint too much so it can’t rotate and pivot the way it needs to in order to open fully. Altered maxillary shape and movement can affect how well the baby is able to latch or maintain a latch. The bottom of the maxilla forms the hard palate. If the palate is too high or too flat, it can make it harder for the baby to maintain a proper seal when trying to latch and suckle. The Maxilla should be a smooth semicircle from one side of the gum line to the other. Often times one side will be flat or there will be a ridge or a peak in the center of the palate which will all indicate that the maxilla is not shaped properly or moving properly.

Connective Tissue

One aspect that will affect all the cranial bones as well as whole body movement and flexibility is the dural tightness. The dura is the connective tissue that attaches from the surface of the nervous system to the surface of the skull, sacrum, and vertebrae. Most times tightness in this system is associated with the findings of a tongue and lip tie. This tightness will present as a very stiff baby. He won’t want to flex forward or droop his head toward his chest. He often is stiff and straight through the mid and upper back and down through the sacrum. He often times has shrugged shoulders and can have a tendency to arch his back often. If a child is stiff and inflexible, this is going to make it more difficult for them to relax their jaw and open wide enough for a proper deep latch. If a baby is tight and stiff and anxious trying to nurse, then typically it makes the experience quite a bit harder. Babies who are stiff like this also usually have fascial restrictions through their neck, upper back, shoulders, often down through their sacrum and hips. Again, a baby who is tight and ridged is not going to move comfortably to get in an optimal position to open their mouth wide and achieve a proper latch and suck swallow pattern.

Lip and Tongue Tie

One of the biggest issues that is more and more prevalent today is newborns with a lip and tongue tie. I have done a whole blog post on just this topic if you want more information (here). But here is some basics. With a tongue tie there is extra tissue or tighter tissue underneath the tongue that is restricting the upward motion of the tongue. It affects other movements as well but mainly the upward motion of the back of the tongue. This means that they can’t bring the back of the tongue up to form a seal on the breast. This leads to the baby needing to alter his tongue movement to try to transfer milk. This altered movement is linked with altered throat movement during swallowing, so the suck swallow breath pattern is altered. This can lead to babies clicking while nursing, scraping the nipple with their tongue, swallowing air leading to reflux and colic. Tongue ties also cause restriction in the connective tissue throughout the jaw, throat and neck which affects how they open, latch, suck, swallow, etc.

Lip ties are additional tight tissue that connects the lip to the upper gum line. This will affect maxillary movement and shape as well as affecting how wide the baby can open his mouth to latch. Often you will notice you have to flip his upper lip up or there will be a blister that starts to form at the middle of his lip.

Chiropractic Care

All of these issues can be helped by a chiropractor. Chiropractors can help align the upper cervical spine and cranial bones. A chiropractor proficient in craniosacral therapy can help stretch the dural tissue and establish proper cranial movement. Chiropractors that utilize CST usually know how to do myofascial release or bodywork to help loosen the tissue restrictions throughout the head, neck, jaw, throat, shoulders, upper back, rib cage, sacrum, and hips. They can also release and loosen the tight tissue of a tongue and lip tie to help improve tongue movement. Chiropractors can also align the TMJ itself and make sure that the surrounding soft tissue and muscles are released and relaxed so that the baby can open his mouth wide and have a better latch. Chiropractic care is essential to help babies have optimal spinal, cranial, TMJ and whole-body motion. Chiropractic care allows the baby to be as relaxed and loose as possible to be able to move his head neck and tongue as freely as possible to achieve a proper latch and breastfeed affectively.

The Webster Technique

The Webster technique was developed by Dr. Larry Webster, founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). Many people think this is a technique used to flip breech babies to a head down presentation. However, this technique does not focus itself on flipping babies. The Webster technique was developed to help women have an easier time during labor and delivery. The technique is centered around balancing the pelvis and uterus by aligning the sacrum and releasing any tightness in the round ligaments of the uterus. The basic biomechanics is that as the sacrum rotates back on one side, the uterus is pulled slightly to that side. So in order to center and stabilize the uterus, the opposite side round ligament tightens in response. This causes pulling and slight twisting of the uterus. From this the baby can then experience in-utero constraint because there is less space for the baby to move and feel comfortable. This may even lead to a baby choosing to turn breech in order to get more comfortable.

The Webster technique focuses on balancing the sacrum and round ligament to optimize the space in the uterus so the baby will choose an optimal head down position. This technique becomes more necessary after 30-34 weeks in order to make sure that the pelvis is balanced, and the baby is in the best position for labor and delivery. However, it is a useful technique throughout pregnancy to alleviate discomfort and optimize fetal development by eliminating any in-utero constraint.

A good prenatal chiropractor will also check more than just the sacrum and round ligaments. When I adjust pregnant clients I make sure to release any tightness in the hip flexors as well as the muscles in the glutes, hips and low back. I also make sure to align the whole spine including the low back and pubic bones. Evidence based research shows that Chiropractic adjustments help reduce pain during pregnancy as well as pain during labor and delivery and shortens time of labor.

Babywearing While Pregnant, Part Two (Guest Post for Onya Baby)

Be sure to check out Dr. Dodge’s guest post for Onya Baby – Babywearing While Pregnant, Part Two: Safe Carrying Options. It follows to Babywearing While Prengant, Part One over on the Onya Baby Blog. Dr. Dodge is often asked by his prenatal chiropractic clients if it is safe to continue babywearing an older child while pregnant. It is important that mothers chose methods of placing the older child on their back that do not involve twisting, so Dr. Dodge’s second post covers a few ways to put the baby on your back safely. Happy Babywearing!

Babywearing While Pregnant: Part One


The first in a two-post series about babywearing while pregnant, written by Dr. Daniel Dodge, DC, CACCP

Photography copyright Dodge Family Chiropractic

The wonderful team at Onya Baby invited Dr. Dodge to guest blog for them! He wrote a two-part blog post about babywearing while pregnant! We hope you enjoy it!

“It is completely safe for most women to continue to babywear throughout pregnancy. There are many benefits to babywearing, for mother and baby, and these benefits do not have to end when expecting a new brother or sister. To ensure that babywearing continues to be safe and comfortable for both the mother and toddler, there are additional factors to consider during pregnancy. The health of the mother, her level of babywearing experience, the stage of pregnancy, and the weight of the ‘wearee’ should all be taken in to account, as well as any recommendations given by a healthcare provider.”

Be sure to read the full post here!

Be sure to read the follow-up post for this two-part series: Safe Carrying Options for Babywearing while Pregnant!

Patient Story – Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

I am blessed, as a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor, to serve families during a very special time in their lives – growing their families! Pregnancy is an exciting time, but as a mother’s body changes to support a new life, she can experience many discomforts and challenges.There are few things more rewarding than helping a patient through those concerns so that they can enjoy such a joyful time! This is the story of a patient who had just that experience.

Photo courtesy of Brooke Shelby Photography, local Coppell Family Photographer

 

While I had heard of chiropractic care during my first pregnancy, I never thought about what it could do for me as a pregnant woman. And truthfully, I was afraid of neck cracking! I was blessed to meet Dr. Dodge and his family not long after our our sons were born. When I got pregnant again, I noticed that I was experiencing pain already in the late first trimester. It really hurt to walk, and I still had quite a ways to go until my baby would be born. I asked Dr. Dodge about chiropractic care, and the techniques he uses. He was very kind and explained in layman’s terms about his work and how it could benefit me as a pregnant woman. And there would be no scary neck cracking. Sign me up!

I started seeing Dr. Dodge around 21 weeks in my pregnancy. He asked me several questions about my overall health (mental, physical, etc.) and about the pain I was experiencing. He explained that while relaxin (the hormone that helps loosen ligaments in preparation for labor) is released in the third trimester with first pregnancies, it is released as soon as conception occurs with second pregnancies (and any thereafter). This explains why I was already out of alignment and in pain. Carrying around a nearly 30 pound toddler on my hips certainly wasn’t helping, either!

At the beginning of each appointment, Dr. Dodge made sure to ask how I’d been feeling, and what we needed to focus on for the appointment. I always felt so much better after an adjustment. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I got the usual “How are you feeling?” question from people constantly. I was able to truthfully say, “I feel great!” I have no idea how women make it through pregnancies without chiropractic care.

I also had Restless Leg Syndrome in both of my pregnancies. I thought it was odd that it was brought on by pregnancy, but I’ve heard from other women that have dealt with it, too. Dr. Dodge was able to help rid me of the nagging RLS symptoms, and recommended a Cal/Mag supplement to help as well. I didn’t notice RLS symptoms for the rest of my pregnancy – a huge blessing!

When I had my second son at home, he had a slightly stuck shoulder. My midwife had to help free it, and she recommended that I have my son adjusted sooner, rather than later. I e-mailed Dr. Dodge, and he was at our house nine hours after my son was born (letting us settle in as a new family of four, first), gently adjusting him, and adjusting me to help me recover from the rigors of childbirth, as well. He is truly dedicated to the well-being of his patients.

If God blesses our family with another sweet baby, I will be diligent in receiving chiropractic care again. It was hugely helpful in making this pregnancy feel like a breeze, and I would recommend it to anyone I know – pregnant or not!

 

 Courtney Smith and her husband are parents to two sweet boys. She is a birth advocate and serves as a chapter leader for Dallas Birth Network. The Dallas Birth Network is a non-profit organization that aims to bring awareness to the Mother-Friendly Care Initiativethrough community education and outreach. Dallas Birth Network hosts free monthly meetings and other community events in an effort to help local families becomed more informed and supported in birth choices. Stay connected with Dallas Birth Network for updates on meetings and events by “liking” DBN on Facebook!

Chiropractic and Midwifery: Dr. Dodge Meets Ina May Gaskin

Back in July, Dodge Family Chiropractic (Coppell, TX) had the opportunity to sponsor a booth at “Ina May Day,” an event put on by the Tarrant County Birth Network. TCBN brought Ina May Gaskin for a weekend of events, and I jumped at the opportunity to be part of such a great event. Meeting Ina May and so many local birth professionals inspired this blog post. Many people who ask what I do are surprised when I talk about adjusting expecting mothers – if that is you, please read on!

Chiropractic and Midwifery: Dr. Dodge Meets Ina May Gaskin

Chiropractic and Midwifery are two healthcare fields that go hand in hand. They are both built on the idea of the innate power that the human body holds. Both Chiropractors and Midwives believe that there are many innate, or instinctual, processes that the body is capable of without needing help or medical intervention from the outside.

The Midwifery model of care for birth, which supports the idea that women hold an amazing ability to go through pregnancy and birth without medical interventions, was revitalized here in the U.S. by the “Mother of Midwifery,” Ina May Gaskin.  Ina May spread the idea that women have the power to give birth naturally and that pregnancy, labor, and delivery are not medical conditions or procedures that needed outside medical intervention through her midwifery work. She brought attention to the fact that women are able to work with their baby innately through what is meant to be a natural, collaborative process for a mother and her baby.  Ina May has been an activist for women and has helped to enlighten women about the innate power that they hold within themselves to be able to birth their own baby naturally. That is why is was an honor to meet her this summer when she came to speak in Fort Worth, Texas.

As a Chiropractor, I too believe in the natural and innate power that each person has. It is my job to help enhance the body’s ability to go through innate processes by encouraging a fully functioning nervous system. The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, and all of the nerves that go to every cell, tissue, and organ in the body. The nervous system is what controls every function of the body. It is important to have a fully functioning nervous system free from interference so that the body is able to undergo all of the natural and innate processes, including pregnancy and birth.

Chiropractic can play a role in helping women be able to more easily go through pregnancy and the labor and delivery process. Pregnancy can be a very stressful time for the body, and proper functioning of the nervous system is important to decrease any pain during pregnancy as well as enhance the growth and development of the baby. A healthy and balanced spine helps to maintain a fully functioning nervous system, which decreases the stress the body is under as well as the stress on the baby.  This allows women to be in less pain and for the baby to develop optimally.  Especially later in pregnancy, chiropractors use a technique called Webster technique to help balance the pelvis and uterus in order to allow the baby to be able to obtain an optimal positioning in preparation for birth, namely head down. A head down position is less stressful for the baby and allows them to have more room in the uterus. Chiropractors trained through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) on Webster technique are better able to help a pregnant woman’s body, which helps to alleviate pain and improve whole body function. Research has shown that those women under chiropractic care have shorter, easier labors, as well as less pain during pregnancy over those women who do not receive chiropractic care. Chiropractic care enhances the innate power of a woman’s body and encourages the body to be able to go through the natural process of birth more easily.  Therefore chiropractic and midwifery go hand in hand, promoting the innate power of the human body and encouraging pregnant women to allow themselves to go through the natural and innate process of birth. Normal pregnancy is not a medical condition that requires a doctor’s intervention. Women have the power within themselves to go through pregnancy, labor and delivery naturally without medical intervention. Chiropractic helps to enhance the woman’s ability to go through this natural process by establishing a properly functioning nervous system. That is the goal of chiropractic maternity care and the goal of midwifery – to allow the women to accept and encourage the innate power of their own body through what is a beautiful and natural process. Chiropractic is there to enhance the functioning of the woman’s body and balance the woman’s body so that the process is easier and less stressful for the woman and baby.

Guesses for Baby Dodge Giveaway!

Claire, Charlie and I are so excited about the upcoming arrival of the newest Dodge! We’d love for to share the excitement with you, so we’ve planned a “Guesses for Baby Dodge Giveaway!” Participate in our “BabyHunch” game – guess baby’s gender, birth date, and more. The best guesser will win a 15 ml bottle of Young Living’s Lavender Essential Oil. Curious about lavender essential oil? More on lavender and its uses at the bottom of the post.

To help you make your guesses, we’ll share with you Claire and Charlie’s “stats,” and let you compare those to Claire’s “stats” from this pregnancy. When you are ready to make your guesses, go to our BabyHunch game and enter the password: DFC

Claire at 39 weeks with Charlie

 

Pregnancy Experiences with Charlie

  • morning sickness/nausea (all day!) till week 14
  • food cravings – steak, avocados, strawberries
  • hypersensitive to smells, especially raw meats through whole pregnancy
  • more fatigue with Charlie’s pregnancy
  • mood – more irritable, stubborn
  • weight gain total – 26lbs

Charlie’s Stats

  • due date – September 25
  • born – September 24th, 8:35pm
  • 8lb 4oz
  • 21 in
  • hair color – strawberry blonde

Claire at 38 weeks with Baby Dodge #2

Pregnancy Experiences

  • little to no morning sickness
  • food cravings – hamburgers, sweets
  • sensitive to smells, especially chili and soups, in early pregnancy
  • less fatigue
  • mood – more weepy, dramatic
  • strong heartburn/reflux with certain foods
  • weight gain so far – 22.5lbs

Baby Dodge’s expected due date is August 5th.

 

Good luck! After baby arrives, we will announce the winner and their guesses here on the blog, as well as contact you via email. Your YL Lavender Essential Oil prize will be ordered and mailed directly to you after the giveaway is complete.

 

I chose lavender essential oil as the giveaway prize because it is truly the most versatile of therapeutic grade essential oils. It also holds a special meaning for this pregnancy and birth, as Claire has been using it for skin care, calming effects, and plans to have it diffusing in our home during the birth.

Description and Uses for Lavender Oil (From the Young Living website)

Lavender has a fresh, sweet, floral, herbaceous aroma that is soothing and refreshing. Lavender is an adaptogen, and therefore can assist the body when adapting to stress or imbalances. It is a great aid for relaxing and winding down before bedtime, yet has balancing properties that can also boost stamina and energy. Therapeutic-grade lavender is highly regarded for skin and beauty. It may be used to soothe and cleanse common cuts, bruises, and skin irritations.

Uses

  • Soothe minor burns by applying 2–3 drops of lavender essential oil to the affected area.
  • Rub lavender essential oil on dry or chapped skin to moisturize the affected area.
  • Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a cotton ball and place it in closets and drawers to scent linens and repel moths and insects.
  • You may be able to minimize the appearance of scar tissue by massaging lavender essential oil on or around affected areas.
  • Place a few drops of lavender essential oil on a wet cloth or dryer sheet to deodorize and freshen your laundry.
  • Diffuse lavender essential oil to minimize seasonal discomforts.
  • Rub a few drops of lavender essential oil onto your hand and spread over your child’s pillow to help him/her sleep.
  • Diffuse lavender essential oil to set the mood for a baby shower or social gathering.
  • Diffuse or inhale lavender essential oil to calm your mind, body, and spirit after a hard day’s work.