Short video by Dr. Daniel Dodge DC, CACCP of Dodge Family Chiropractic discussing benefits to chiropractic care for infants and newborns.
Many of us know that babies are born with soft spots where their skull is not fully bone yet. We also know that the skull becomes all bone, therefore the soft spots or fontanelles, close at a certain point in childhood (the last one closes usually around 2 years old). Most of us, however, do not realize that the bones in our head move in a rhythmic motion from before we are born throughout our entire lives, regardless of whether our cranial sutures and fontanelles close. This motion is vital to not only brain and nervous system function, but it is vital for whole body function.
Origins of Cranial Adjusting/Craniosacral Therapy
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Dr. William Sutherland, an osteopathic doctor, was the first to recognize that the movement of the cranial bones and eventually uncovered a rhythmic fluid motion that encompassed the entire body. He called this rhythm the “primary respiratory mechanism”. This mechanism includes the rhythmic motion of the cranial bones, nervous system, and spine along with fluctuations in cerebral spinal fluid flow and shifting tension among dural membranes (connective tissue surrounding the brain and nervous system). These movements are all involuntary and completely separate from cardiac pulse and breathing. Dr. Sutherland believed that a skilled practitioner connecting with this primary respiratory mechanism could bring about a therapeutic effect and therefore enhance health.
Many other Doctors and Chiropractors came to understand the importance of cranial motion and developed their own techniques to ensure proper movement. Major Bertrand Dejarnette developed Sacro Occipital Technique. Dr George Goodheart developed Applied Kinesiology. One of the most well-known and heard of techniques is Craniosacral Technique developed by Dr. John Upledger. Over 50 years after Dr. Sutherland, Dr. Upledger discovered this same rhythmic motion in the dural connective tissue while he was preforming surgery. He notice there was movement of the nervous system and dura that was at a different rate than the respiration and cardiac pulse of the patient. He later performed many years of research that became the basis of Craniosacral Technique. This technique allows a practitioner to contact the sacrum as well as the cranial bones, and due to the dural attachement from the cranial bones through the spinal column to the sacrum, correct the primary respiratory mechanism. Both Dr. Sutherland and Dr. Upledger believed that this mechanism was a mechanism that could be used for self-healing, and that at the hands of a skilled practitioner one could see improvements in health.
More recent histological and anatomical examination of the cranial sutures have validated that they are not completely fused and in fact have intricate articulations that allow specific movements. The 106 articulations between the 22 cranial bones all are shaped and connected to allow for the rhythmic motion of the primary respiratory mechanism. This motion occurs 6-12 times per minute. Disruptions in this motion can affect the entire body and cause physical or emotional symptoms. Dural or fascial restrictions can affect cranial nerve function and stimulation. It can also affect cerebral spinal fluid flow and therefore impact the nutrient and water distribution to different areas of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. For example, dural tissue attached at the temporal bones is contiguous with fascia of the carotid sheath (this contains part of the vagus nerve), the fibrous pericardium (around the heart), and the respiratory diaphragm. Therefore, a restriction in the dural tissue at the temporal bone can affect vagal stimulation as well as cardiac and respiratory function.
A well-functioning primary respiratory mechanism allows for full cranial and dural movement, as well as proper cerebral spinal fluid fluctuation. With this mechanism working properly, there is no interference occurring in the nervous system and no areas of restriction that would hinder function in the body. However, many things can disrupt this primary respiratory mechanism and cause alterations in cranial motion and positioning. Adhesions and areas of restriction and congestion develop which can have a negative effect on the way the body functions. There are, however, things that you can do to allow for proper cranial motion in your own child.
7 Ways to Help Maintain Proper Motion
1) Cranial Adjustments
Baby’s cranial bones are very moldable and easily shaped. Often times, babies will be born with cranial bones that have molded quite a bit. This could be from the way they were resting in the uterus or because of the pressures placed upon the cranium during labor and delivery. Nursing can play a huge role in helping initially increasing cranial motion to help return the cranium to a symmetrical and round shape. However, most of the time a trained therapist is needed to ensure that all of the cranial bones are moving properly and there are no overlaps in the sutures or dural tightness and adhesions preventing motion. Chiropractors who are certified by the ICPA are proficient in cranial adjusting as well as therapists trained in Craniosacral Technique. There are many other techniques that can be affective in cranial manipulation such as Sacro Occipital Technique and Applied Kinesiology. Making sure that you find someone who has been trained in cranial adjusting and someone who is comfortable and confident in adjusting cranial bones is important.
Cranial adjusting, as mentioned above not only can bring proper symmetry, shape, and motion to the bones of the skull, but can affect whole body function and can have a positive effect on issues such as colic, digestive issues, reflux, sinus issues, ear infections, sleep issues, etc. Cranial manipulation can impact vagal stimulation and increase parasympathetic activity. This can decrease inflammation in the gut and improve digestive, respiratory, and cardiac function.
Breastfeeding is extremely good for many reasons. One of those reasons is that it can help proper development of the cranial bones and mandible. The sucking motion required for breastfeeding flattens the breast tissue up against the palate which helps shape and mold the roof of the mouth which is also the bottom of the sinus cavity. Breastfeeding allows for optimal shaping of the palate so it is smooth and rounded and not too high and narrow. High and narrow palates will cause the sinus cavity to become smaller and narrower. This can lead to future sinus issues. The sucking motion that presses the breast tissue into the palate helps to move the cranial bones and stimulate growth centers in the facial bones. Typically with breastfeeding the baby is held in different positions and he or she nurses on both breasts so the growth centers on each side of the cranial and facial bones are stimulated evenly. This sucking motion also aids in cerebral spinal fluid flow and helps to stimulate pituitary hormone release particularly growth factors.
3) Lip and Tongue Tie Release
It is seemingly becoming more and more prevalent these days to see a baby with a lip and/or tongue tie. A lip tie is present when the frenulum or connective tissue between the upper lip and gum is overdeveloped and restrictive to the movement of the upper lip. A tongue tie is present when the lingual frenulum or connective tissue between the bottom of the tongue and the lower jaw is overdeveloped and restrictive to the movement of the tongue. Lip and tongue ties are thought to be genetic and are midline defects that are associated with genetic abnormalities that impact the body’s ability to methylate, such as MTHFR. Lip and tongue ties can vary greatly in degree and effect on function. Lip and tongue ties restrict the function of the oral cavity. They affect the amount the jaw can open, the strength, movement and function of the tongue, and the movement, development and growth of the cranial bones. The restriction in the connective tissue extends deeper into the connective fascia that surrounds the cranium, jaw and can affect the tissue extending into the neck, shoulders, and even into the diaphragm, abdomen, hips and legs. Releasing the tongue and lip tie can have greatly relieving effect for a newborn. It is wise to have cranial adjustments, craniosacral therapy, or other fascial release technique performed after the tongue and lip tie release to ensure that all the connective tissue restrictions are released and full function is restored. The tongue tie and lip tie can be release through the use of scissors or through a cutting laser. It is recommended that each parent do their research in determining which method of treatment is available and most beneficial for their child. Release of these ties will help to encourage proper cranial and mandible development and growth. It will allow for proper growth center stimulation in the facial and cranial bones. It will also encourage full cranial rhythm and movement allowing for proper cranial and facial symmetry.
Wearing your baby in a carrier, sling or wrap is beneficial in numerous ways including supporting cranial shape and motion. Babywearing allows the child to be upright off the floor or out of a seat so there is no risk of developing a “flat spot” from lying in one position for prolonged periods of time. The upright posture also encourages suboccipital muscle development to aid in proper occipital alignment upon the atlas (first vertebrae in the neck). Babywearing also has been connected to extended breastfeeding. The suckling required for breastfeeding increases cranial movement and also stimulates growth centers among the facial bones allowing for full functional growth of the facial bones and mandible.
5) No Contraptions
Coinciding with babywearing, keeping babies out of contraptions like car seats, bouncy seats and swings will benefit the cranial bones and the primary respiratory mechanism. Contraptions like car seats limit the baby’s range of motion and confine the baby to typically lay in the same position with the same consistent pressure on the same area of the skull. It only takes less than 5grams of pressure to move and influence cranial motion. So if a baby is laying in the same position with the same pressure for extended periods the cranial bones will mold to fit that pressure. This is typically how flat spots develop, and the skull should not have flat spots. Flat spots indicate that there is altered shape and motion to the different cranial bones. This affects the cerebral spinal fluid movement and can lead to adhesions in the dural tissue causing other symptoms. If flat spots do develop despite your best effort to not have them in a car seat or other contraption for long periods, then finding a practitioner who can perform craniosacral technique or other means of cranial adjusting is recommended.
6) No Headbands or Bows
Having two little girls myself, I know that a headband with a big bow or flower on it can look very cute. However, like I mentioned above, it takes less than 5grams of pressure to influence the cranial bones shape and motion. So placing a tight headband that constricts the cranium will not only change the shape of the head but will decrease the movement of the cranial bones and negatively impact the primary respiratory mechanism. Many parents who have little girls who are bald for a long time will want to always have a headband on their baby since they can not clip on bows to her hair. This will always constrict motion of the cranial bones and work towards altering the shape of the cranium. Typically a headband will wrap around the occiput, temporal, sphenoid and frontal bones. Even slight alterations in the shape or motion of the occiput can cause misalignments in any other cranial bone. This again will cause adhesions in the dura and affect the nutrient saturation of the nervous system. One lesser evil that I encourage moms to do is to keep the headband or bow in your bag and only slip it on for pictures and then take it right back off. Look for red marks and signs of the bow on the head after you take it off. The more marks and redness you see left behind after the bow is off tells you there is more pressure being applied by the headband. Bows and headbands look cute, but have a huge impact on the shape and motion of the cranium.
7) Vary Sleeping Positions
Many times parents will place their baby in a crib, basinet, or co-sleeper for naps and bedtime. These devices then stay in the same place and the baby is placed in the same position in them. This can cause the baby to develop a flat spot from continual pressure in one area. The baby will often develop a more comfortable sleeping position they prefer to obtain while in the crib or sleeper. Moving the crib around the room or placing the baby in the crib facing the opposite direction will help to vary the position the baby maintains during sleep. It will also give variability to what side the baby is approached from when he or she wakes up. Therefore the baby will not grow accustom to turning one way to wait for mom or dad when he or she wakes up. Altering sleeping positions for the baby will give him or her varied stimulation and change the way pressure is placed on the head due to the direction he or she will look depending on the position of the crib or sleeper. Back sleeping has been supported by the American Pediatric Association to help prevent SIDS but this campaign has also contributed to flat spots due to back sleeping. Ensuring that there are varied sleeping positions and plenty of tummy time is vital to maintaining cranial symmetry and function if the parent chooses to encourage back sleeping.
Many things can contribute to proper cranial motion and function. These suggestions can help parents to take actionable steps towards improving their child’s health through properly functioning cranial movement and rhythm.
There are several different muscle groups that make up your abdominal muscles, or your core. The importance of these muscles is to contain your internal organs, connect your ribcage and upper torso to your pelvis, allow for a wide range of movements, and stabilize your low back and pelvis. There are four major muscle groups that make up your core: the rectus abdominis, the internal obliques, the external obliques and the transverse abdominis. The rectus abdominis runs vertically from the bottom of your rib cage to the pubic bone. It is divided into two rows, one on each side of your belly button. A thick connective tissue called the linea alba connects the two halves of this muscle. The external obliques run diagonally from the bottom of the rib cage (as well as portions from the serratus anterior and latisimis dorsi) to the top of the iliac crest (hip bone), inguinal ligament and pubic bone. The internal oblique muscles run diagonally, perpendicular to the external obliques. They attach from the thoracolumbar fascia and iliac crest to the bottom of the rib cage. These two sets of oblique muscles have tendinous portions that wrap around the rectus abdominus and into the linea alba. The transverse abdominis runs horizontally around the body connecting into the lumbodorsal fascia in the low back (this attaches into the sacrum, lumbar vertebrae and the posterolateral aspect of the iliac crest). This muscle also attaches into cartilage of the lower six ribs, the top of the iliac crest and into a portion of the inguinal ligament in the front of the pelvis. The transverse abdominis also wraps around the rectus abdominis muscle and contributes to the connective tissue that makes up the linea alba. For a great visual of these muscles, check out this image.
The most important muscle of these core muscles is the transverse abdominis muscle. It is the deepest of the core muscles and acts like a built in weight belt or corset. The action of the muscle is to pull the belly button to the spine. This action increases intra-abdominal pressure, which helps decreases vertical pressure on the intervertebral disks by converting more of the vertical force to hoop force. Transverse abdominis activation also increases low back stiffness to protect against excess movement between vertebrae that may damage the intervertebral disks or cause inflammation and spasms. This muscle is vital in stabilizing the pelvis and low back as well as allowing for maximal efficiency and power during use of the upper and lower extremities. A toned transverse abdominis will naturally activate or contract before movement of the upper or lower extremities. This helps to stabilize the pelvis and low back and protect the vertebrae and intervertebral disks. In some one with a weak transverse abdominis, the activation of the core occurs after the movement of the extremeties. This puts the vertebrae, intervertebral disks, and other supporting musculature at risk for injury. The transverse abdominis muscle works in tandem with the multifidi muscles (small muscles along the side of the spine) in the spine to stabilize and protect the vertebrae and the intervertebral disks while movement occurs. If one has a weak transverse abdominis it can lead to less stabilization and more reliance on the small multifidi in the back. This can cause more back pain, pelvic pain, higher chance of disk bulge or herniation, and less efficient and powerful extremity movements.
One of the most common injuries that cause a weakened core is called a Diastasis recti. This is an injury in which the two halves of the rectus abdominis have separated laterally (to the side) and have caused the linea alba to become very thin. This condition occurs because of an excessive increase in abdominal pressure from weight lifting, performing abdominal exercises incorrectly, pregnancy, excessive coughing or sneezing, etc. The outward pressure against the rectus abdominis pushes the two halves of the rectus abdominis apart as it stretches and thins out the connective tissue that makes up the linea alba. A diastasis recti injury is more likely to occur when the transverse abdominus muscles are already weak. Having a diastasis can cause many other issues. As mentioned above, the abdominal muscles, especially the transvers abdominis, stabilize the low back and pelvis. With a diastasis most if not all of this stabilization is lost. This can cause postural abnormalities, and depending on the severity of the diastasis, it can allow for the displacement of internal organs. This can affect their function and lead to things like digestive problems.
Diastasis recti injuries are most commonly found in women who have had a child. However, it is also found in children and men. Upwards of 70 percent of women develop a diastasis recti during pregnancy. Some of them will reconnect postpartum, but most will need extra help to heal. The most accurate way to identify a diastasis recti and evaluate the severity of the injury is to seek the support of a qualified individual, whether that person is a diastasis-aware physical therapist, chiropractor, or physician. There is a very simple way to do a prelimiary check for diastasis recti. While lying on your back place your fingers on the middle of your stomach pointing up or down. Then lift only your head off the floor. Pressing down very gently you will be able to feel a valley in between the two halves of the rectus abdominus. You should check at a point right below you rib cage, at your belly button and right above the pubic bone. Most women will have a diastasis that can be corrected without the use of a brace or slint. Those who measure their diastasis at a finger width of 3 (3cm) or greater will probably need the help of a brace in order to heal the diastasis.
There are several things that you can do and a few things to avoid when trying to heal a diastasis. Things that you should not do include any type of sit up, crunch, or plank. Once you have a diastasis and the connective tissue that forms the linea alba is weakened you should refrain from ever doing regular sit ups again. These cause the abdominal pressure that is built up to push outwards against the weakened connective tissue, essentially working against your goal of healing your diastasis. Never sit straight up from a lying position or do any type of pike movement. Refrain from slouching and sitting hunched back on your sacrum. This weakens you transverse abdominis and can prevent progress in healing the diastasis. Never sneeze or cough without bracing your core first. When you feel a sneeze or a cough coming on, sit or stand straight and bring your belly button to your spine, activating your transverse abdominis. This will help lessen any possible damage the sudden intense increase in abdominal pressure may have on your diastasis.
Things that you can be doing to help heal a diastasis recti include active sitting, active standing, and squats. To perform active sitting, sit in a chair that allows you to have your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. Sit up on the front of your ischial tuberosities (sit bones) with your head over your shoulders and shoulders over your hips. Bring your feet and knees together. This is active sitting posture. From here you can contract and relax your transverse abdominis along with your breath. While you breath out, contract your transverse abdominis (bring your belly button to your spine). While you breath in, relax your transverse abdominis. Active standing is very similar, except you are standing with your feet about shoulder width apart. Stand up straight with your head over your shoulders and shoulders over your hips. Then contract and relax your transverse abdominis with your respiration like described above. Squats are a great exercise, not only for strengthening your core, but also your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and pelvic floor muscles. To perform a proper squat, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your transverse abdominis activated. Then maintain transverse abdominis activation the entire way down and back up. Your heels should remain on the floor for the entire squat. If you are unable to perform a complete squat, then you can use a door handle as support until you develop enough strength to perform a complete squat without support.
Though some people with a small diastasis recti may be able to heal their core injury on their own with some exercise and lifestyle changes, it is necessary for most people to seek a diastasis-aware physical therapist to help them, or to commit to a core rehabilitation program. There are many great core rehab and diastasis safe workout programs available to people working to heal their core. Dr. Dodge has worked with an excellent women’s health physical therapy specialist in the DFW area – let him know if you’d like a referral.
Here are a few options for healing and protecting the core online:
Tupler Technique – The Tupler Technique is a program designed specifically for strengthening the transverse muscles, bringing the separated abdominal muscles back together, and healing diastasis. https://diastasisrehab.com/
The Tummy Team – The Tummy Team is a comprehensive physical therapy resource, focused on healing diastasis recti, restoring alignment and posture, and core-friendly fitness. The Core Foundation program works to restore the core and pelvic floor muscles. https://thetummyteam.com/programs/?ap_id=DodgeFamilyChiro
Fit2B Studio – Bethany Learn from Fit2B Studio has many videos and workouts on her website designed with fitness for the whole family in mind. She has a passion for helping women restore core strength and has created many videos focused on building transverse strength. There are also downloadable information pages you can take to your trainer or other health professionals that explain what a diastasis is and how they should be caring for it to help you heal it.
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!
The first in a two-post series about babywearing while pregnant, written by Dr. Daniel Dodge, DC, CACCP
Photography copyright Dodge Family Chiropractic
“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!
Dr. Daniel Dodge and his family are thrilled to invite the community and his patients to our Wellness Bash! Dr. Dodge opened his doors just two years ago! This year we celebrate the move into a beautiful new office. We also celebrate the opportunity to work with Devin Ripley, LMT, Jennee Ohrvall, CPM, and other local wellness practitioners in our office! As Dodge Family Chiropractic continues to stive to meet our community education goals, we also celebrate the opportunity to host a number of wellness-oriented classes in our office, be sure to check our calendar to stay up to date on our upcoming classes taught by Dr. Dodge, his wife, and other health and wellness experts!
To celebrate all of these accomplishments, DFC wants to share our joy with the people who make it possible and so rewarding – our patient families! We have an exciting event planned to celebrate our patients, their familiies, and their friends! We have a number of fantastic door prizes donated by local wellness practitioners and holistic living companies (if you follow Dodge Family Chiropractic on Facebook, you’ll get a sneak peak of the awesome door prizes prior to the event!). Our first 100 guests will take home a “swag bag” full of information, coupons, and samples of holistic living products! We’ve invited a number of organizations and wellness practitioners to celebrate with us as DFC works to connect and broaden our local wellness-oriented community! Our Wellness Bash guests will enjoy food, a toddler bounce house, face painting, music, and balloon art!
Our Wellness Bash guests that follow DFC on Facebook have a really fun chance to get a little silly with Dr. Dodge! For the month of November through November 29th, families can earn entries to PIE THE DOC, as in, throw a pie at Dr. Dodge! To earn a pie, simply “check in” on Facebook when you’re at the office, and/or take a photo with Dr. Dodge and post it on the DFC Facebook wall! Each “check in” or photo post earns one pie, so feel free to earn a pie for each memeber of your family! When you come to the Wellness Bash, we’ll have a few scheduled ‘pie throwing’ times throughout the event as well as throwing pies, and, we presume, quite a number of clothing changes for the Doc!
We can’t wait to see you there! Join us at Dodge Family Chiropractic Saturday, November 30th from 10am-1pm!
702 S. Denton Tap Road, Suite 110 75019
Happy World Breastfeeding Week! Special congratulations to all mothers and babies that have been working hard to continue to breastfeed! In honor of the week, we’d like to share an article from Pathways to Family Wellness, written by Jeanne Ohm. It touches on how chiropractic care can be that missing link between breastfeeding difficulties and successful breastfeeding. One reason Dr. Dodge prefers to see newborns for an initial wellness exam in the first two weeks is because many babies, even after simple, natural births, have cervical subluxations, cranial misalignments, and fascial restrictions. Chiropractic care with a provider who performs cranial adjustments and myofascial release can significantly influence a baby’s ability to breastfeed successfully. We’ve seen many babies turn their heads better and nurse more comfortably on one side than they had minutes before, or moms that immediately noticing less discomfort when latching. Read the full article to learn more!
Pathways Article: Breastfeeding Difficulties and Chiropractic
“In the case of breastfeeding difficulty, as with many childhood disorders, the cause of the problem often traces back to undetected biomechanical injuries to the spine and cranium at birth. The failure to recognize these biomechanical injuries and their relationship to difficulty in breastfeeding leads to incorrect conclusions and therefore, inadequate recommendations and treatments. Without real solutions, mothers become discouraged, successful breastfeeding is not achieved, and women stop trying out of frustration.”
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.
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!
Did you know that 95% of newborns have misalignments in their cranial bones, atlas, and/or cervical vertebrae due to the stress of birth? Even the most gentle of births can result in subluxations. The alignment of the spine sets the foundation for building a healthy immune system and for normal childhood development. Chiropractic adjustments also help with many childhood conditions and concerns! Read more about why children get adjusted!
The primary techniques I’ve chosen to use in my practice are non-force and very low-force – they are safe for all ages, including newborns. The pressure applied to a newborn is approximately the pressure it would take to indent a soft pillow with a finger. If you are choosing a chiropractor in your area to treat your children, I recommend you call and confirm their training or certification with the International Pediatric Chiropractic Association.
Children develop 65% of their nervous system within the first year of life and 80% by the time they are two years old.
A very common question I receive fairly often is “Can chiropractic help my child with this?” My response is typically yes – chiropractic care can likely help with a number of childhood concerns. More and more parents are asking about chiropractic care for their children, as they hear anecdotal stories and read research of how chiropractic care helps with the symptoms of colic, reflux, allergies, ear infections, etc. As I talk with parents about how adjustments help common concerns, many parents are still surprised to hear the many benefits of chiropractic care for newborns and wellness care for children. I’ve found that a quick explanation of how chiropractic works helps families understand why regular adjustments are important for developing children and for taking a wellness approach to the family’s health.
Chiropractors are doctors that work to optimize the health and function of the nervous system. They achieve this by performing an adjustment to restore motion and balance to the spine, which frees the nervous system from interference. “Interference” is what we call it when nerves restricted or otherwise negatively affected by misalignment or subluxation – this disrupts the signal the body receives and sends via those nerves. When the nervous system is free of interference then many of the symptoms of disease dissipate because the body is able to heal itself and function properly. The adjustment delivered by the chiropractor can come in many forms. There are many techniques that can be utilized to restore optimal health to the nervous system. Many chiropractors will cater to each patient in order to give them the type of adjustment that will best suit them and help achieve optimal function. This is true in the case of adjusting children, infants and newborns. The same force that a chiropractor may utilize to adjust an adult patient is not the same force they will use to adjust your newborn baby. Chiropractors trained through the ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association) have been trained on how to properly and safely adjust a newborn, infant and older child. Chiropractors normally will use just the tip of their finger to place light pressure on the vertebrae of a newborn (typically as little pressure as you can place on your eye comfortably). These 6-8 ounces of pressure is enough to realign an infant’s spine and restore optimal nervous system health. There is never any rotating or twisting of the baby’s neck or back. It is a very gentle and safe process. There have been studies performed that have proven the safety of chiropractic care for children. The most recent published study stated the following in the discussion:
“Of 1161 clinical cases presenting the gamut of both non-musculoskeletal and musculoskeletal complaints, less than one percent reported minor adverse events spanning 10, 249 office visits. Sixty-six percent reported improvements in their presenting complaints while another 8% reported improvements unrelated to their presenting complaints.”1
But why would a newborn need chiropractic care? Well, just like any other person, newborns and children experience a variety of stress on their bodies and nervous system. Initially, babies can experience physical stress in utero from obtaining a less than optimal position (transverse, breech, asynclitic, ect.). They also experience the pressure and force of contractions and the trauma of the birth process. Many babies have their head pulled during a Cesarean section or a vacuum or forceps extraction. But even a completely natural birth with no interventions is a very stressful event for an infant with an immature nervous system. One study by G. Gutmann stated that 80 % of newborns, out of one thousand examined, had nervous system dysfunction. Another by V. Fryman, which examined 1,250 five-day-old babies, showed that 95% had misalignments in their neck. Children develop 65% of their nervous system within the first year of life and 80% by the time they are two years old. It is important to have a newborn checked by a chiropractor to ensure that their nervous system is free of interference and can develop and grow in an optimal state. When the nervous system is functioning optimally, children are able to focus and learn better, digest and absorb nutrients from food better, and they spend less time expressing illness because of a fully functioning immune system. The nervous system controls the function of every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Therefore, if a child has interference that is not detected and corrected by a chiropractor, they may develop symptoms later in childhood such as colic, reflux, allergies, ear infections, fussiness during tummy time, breastfeeding difficulties, sleeping difficulties, and many others.
As children grow and get older it is a good idea to have them checked at milestones or after any experienced trauma or accident. When a baby learns to sit up, crawl and walk, there are different stresses place on the spine, which could lead interference to develop in the nervous system. Many children have falls on the playground or are in the car during a motor vehicle accident and should be checked to make sure that they are functioning properly and their nervous system is working optimally. Children today are eating a lot more processed foods that lack nutrition. This exposure to the different chemicals in their food can lead to imbalance in the body and interference in the nervous system. Chiropractors can help remove the imbalance in the body and also guide parents to help them make healthier decisions for their children. Many Chiropractors who work with children and families are more holistically inclined and can help improve the overall health of the family children. Families that are visiting the chiropractor regularly benefit from his or her expertise in wellness – chiropractors take numerous courses in nutrition and healthy living.
The immediate result of chiropractic is to remove interference to the nervous system through use of the chiropractic adjustment and allow the body to function better, but the long-term effects and goal is to help adults, children and families live healthier, happier lives.
1) Alcantara, Joel BSc, DC, Kunz, Derek BS Ohm, Jeanne, DC. (2009, September). The Safety and Effectiveness of Pediatric Chiropractic: A Survey of Chiropractors and Parents in a Practice-Based Research Network Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing.http://www.explorejournal.com/article/S1550-8307(09)00207-9/fulltext
2) Siddle, Belinda D.C. (2008, June). Chiropractic Care for Children. Pathways to Family Wellness. http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/component/option,com_crossjoomlaarticlemanager/Itemid,271/aid,1461/view,crossjoomlaarticlemanager/
3) (2009, Winter). Adjusting to a New Life. Pathways to Family Wellness.http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/component/option,com_crossjoomlaarticlemanager/Itemid,164/aid,1824/view,crossjoomlaarticlemanager/
*While most chiropractors are taught how to adjust children in the standard doctorate program, the International Pediatric Chiropractic Association offers an extensive diplomate training and certification program. To ensure that your choice of chiropractor is optimally prepared to adjust each member of your family, ask if they are ICPA trained or certified, or check out icpa4kids.org’s directory.