Tag Archives: Pregnancy

Now That Baby is Here

Now That Baby is Here:

Basics of Postpartum Care to Feel and Function Better

So now that your baby is here you probably feel like you can finally have your body back and start feeling fit and energetic again. Well, sometimes it is not that easy. For a lot of women, the next year can be a struggle. Not only figuring out how to care for another tiny human, but also in figuring out how to feel healthy again. This article will give you some advice to help you feel the way you want to feel, faster.  Pregnancy, labor, and delivery can put your body through a lot of stress, physically, emotionally, and chemically.  Now that you can hold your beautiful new baby, all of your attention is now focused on what he or she needs at every moment. However, some attention should be placed back on you and how you can heal and function your best in this fourth trimester.

Physical

Immediately after giving birth should be a time of rest and cuddles with baby. For the first few weeks after birth the wound from your placenta detaching is still healing (up to 4-6 weeks) and your organs are figuring out how to position themselves properly in your abdominal cavity again. Your body needs rest, hydration and nutrients for this to occur optimally. However, there are things you can do while you are allowing yourself to heal.

  • Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic adjustments are the best way to get your body back in balance and help improve function quickly. You still have the hormone relaxin in your system for about nine months to one-year postpartum. This hormone is what allowed your ligaments to loosen in preparation for birth so your pelvis and sacrum could open up during delivery. Therefore, your ligaments and joints are not as stable for about a year after giving birth. This makes it easier to become misaligned. These misalignments then interfere with your nervous system function so you are not able to function optimally. You may develop symptoms like pain, muscle tightness or weakness or a number of other things. Getting your body aligned with regular chiropractic adjustments will help your body to function better, and will prevent or relieve common pain in the neck, upper back, and shoulders that develops from nursing and carrying around a baby all day. Your muscles will also be able to engage properly so you can begin to rehabilitate your core and pelvic floor muscles.

  • Muscle Rehabilitation

Muscle imbalance and weakness after birth is present in all women. At some point during the third trimester of pregnancy all women develop some degree of diastasis recti. This is a separation in the abdominal tissue that weakens the core and causes pelvic floor dysfunction along with a number of other symptoms such as low back and pelvic pain and possibly digestive issues. I have a previous blog post just on diastasis recti if you would like more information on this (here).  Exercise to heal your diastasis can begin as early as one to three weeks postpartum. I talk about some of these exercises in my previous blog post (active sitting, active standing, squats, bridge, etc). Healing your diastasis and reestablishing proper core function will help reestablish proper pelvic floor function as well. You can not have proper pelvic floor function without a properly functioning core. That is why it is so important to focus on only performing tummy safe activities to heal your diastasis quickly.

However, just healing your core may not be all you need for proper pelvic floor function. Often times scar tissue develops, especially if there was a tear during delivery. There could be damage to the musculature or nervous system so the musculature does not engage or activate the way that it should, which may result in prolapse or incontinence. Again, it is important to have your pelvis aligned by a chiropractic adjustment. During labor your pelvis opens and the ischium (your sit bones) separate and open up to allow for the baby to descend through the pelvis. Sometimes they do not come back together the way they should. This position can put an abnormal stretch on the pelvic floor muscles so that they have difficulty activating and maintaining proper tone. Once the pelvis is properly aligned, it is a good idea to see a female pelvic floor physical therapist. She can help release any scar tissue and relieve any tightness or muscle imbalance. She will also be able to work with you to reactivate all of your pelvic floor muscles and give you exercises to build back strength and proper function.

Nutritional

Just like during your pregnancy, the nutrition you provide your body is extremely important. Make sure that you are following your provider’s recommendation for supplements based on your specific needs. There are, however, general supplements that everyone should consider including in their regimen.

  • Collagen Peptides

Collagen Peptides are a good way to get a full spectrum of amino acids that will help heal tissue and support joints, muscles, skin, digestion. Collagen Peptides are a bit more convenient than gelatin because they can be mixed in to any drink at room temperature and does not require hot liquid like gelatin. Vital Proteins is a good brand that is now sold at Sprouts, Whole Foods and Natural Grocers.

  • Probiotics

Probiotics are important to help break down foods. Taking probiotics not only improves your digestive health but will help establish good digestive health for your baby. Probiotics help brain function, immune function and can help decrease inflammation. I recommend to my clients that they take a supplement with at least five different strains of bacteria and at least 15 billion active populations.

  • Digestive Enzymes

Along with this I also recommend a digestive enzymes supplement to help break down foods more completely which may help prevent your newborn form developing colic or gassiness. If you are not breaking down your food, those larger food molecules are then ending up in your milk supply and make it harder for your baby to digest.

  • Fish Oil (omega-3)

Your baby is also still forming most of his or her nervous system (80% is created in the first two years of life). So it is important that you take a fish oil or omega-3 supplement to provide enough good fats to promote optimal nervous system development. Fish oil will also help your brain and nervous system function as well as decreasing overall inflammation levels.

Emotional

Many women have difficulty emotionally after giving birth. Whether it is the baby blues or depression or anxiety, many women need support. It is important for you, your friends, and family to be able to spot signs that you need support or help. It can be hard while you are in a certain mental state to identify what is happening, but even just having enough awareness that something is not right can lead to you reaching out for the help that you need and deserve. There are professionals that can help such as a postpartum doula or a counselor or therapist that specializes in postpartum anxiety and depression. Medications are an available option that should not be looked down upon or judged. Sometimes those temporary solutions are necessary.

There are supplements and natural means to help improve postpartum anxiety or depression. GLA is a supplement that I have seen help in a lot of cases for anxiety and depression. Fish oil and probiotics have been shown to help as well. Essential oils can boost mood and help emotional health. Young Living has a wide range of essential oil blends such as Joy or Stress Away that help support emotional health. Frankincense is a single oil that works directly on the brain and can have an uplifting and calming effect. CBD oil has also been shown to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise, sunlight, and fresh air also can have a big positive impact on mood and emotional health.

Newborns require a lot of attention and are completely dependent on you to provide for every need. However, it is vital to make sure that your physical, nutritional, and emotional needs are being met as well.

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.