Chiropractic Care for Babies and Children

A few1459163_1430309047278689_4342408219577700496_n months ago one of my patients posted a photo of me adjusting her adorable baby Miles. Mr. Miles is quite the handsome young man and this picture received quite a bit of attention! In the weeks that followed I had many Mama’s contact me asking for more information about chiropractic care for children and babies. One of these Mama’s is the creator of the blog Little Tot Landing. She was so interested in pediatric chiropractic that she interviewed me on the topic and posted it on her site. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to gather all of my thoughts on pediatric chiropractic into one place and share this information that I’m so passionate about!

Here are her interview questions and my answers:

Until recently, I hadn’t heard about infant chiropractic – what are the benefits for infants? What ailments might be alleviated with a visit to a chiropractor?

Chiropractic care for infants and children is gaining increasing public awareness and acceptance. In my experience there are really two types of issues that chiropractors most commonly see and treat. The first group of issues are the more obvious musculo-skeletal problems. During the birth process, especially when interventions are used such as forceps or vacuum extraction or even during C-section deliveries, there is a great deal of force being put on the baby’s spine and joints. Some babies are born with neck injuries – this can present as torticollis or a ‘crick’ in the babies neck that prevents them from moving their head freely to both sides. This can cause a great deal of discomfort for the baby and can make breastfeeding a huge challenge. It can also lead to flat spots developing on the baby’s head if they are favouring one side. Other areas that can require treatment include shoulders and hips.

These kinds of conditions respond beautifully to chiropractic care. Usually after a few gentle treatments I see huge improvements. We’ve got to remember that babies feel pain just like anybody else. It’s important to watch for signs of physical discomfort and look into options to help relieve that pain.

The second area that I work on involves injuries affecting the nervous system. When our spine is injured it affects the way our nervous system is functioning and this can lead to a huge variety of problems. For babies this often manifests as digestive discomfort. All babies deal with some gassiness as their digestive system grows and develops but I see many babies who have more involved issues with gassiness, leading to major discomfort, trouble sleeping and sometimes constipation. I have had huge success improving gastric function with some gentle spinal care and this often results in a more content baby. Colic is another area that chiropractic has been proven to be highly effective. I always encourage any parent I know who is struggling with a very unhappy baby to consider chiropractic care because this treatment can often correct the underlying cause of the problem and then everybody wins!

And then of course it is important to remember that these tiny humans are growing and developing so rapidly and it never hurts to have someone check to make sure everything is aligned and functioning properly – the earlier we can find and correct any issues the easier everything is on the parents and the child!

Is it important to take your baby to a chiropractor?

Well, clearly I am completely biased on this one but my answer is a resounding YES! I believe that every baby can benefit from some chiropractic treatment – including my own kids! I have two daughters, ages 1 and 3, and they have both received chiropractic treatment since they were newborns. I always recommend that my patients bring their baby in as soon as possible after they are born. This way I can assess for any injuries caused during birth and correct them quickly. This usually takes only a handful of treatments. Then I like to check in with the baby as they go through their milestones.  The spine starts off very flat without any of the natural curves that we see in the adult spine.  The curve in the neck develops when the baby starts to hold their head up. The other curves develop when the baby starts to sit, crawl and walk. We want these curves to develop perfectly.  Injuries or imbalances can cause distortions in these curves as they develop that may have long lasting effects.  It is so much easier to prevent issues by catching them early, rather than waiting and needing to correct a major issue after it has had months or years to develop.

 What would a visit involve? What does treatment specifically for a baby involve? What are the differences between an adult and a baby visit? 

In my office I see babies all the time so I’ve got a wonderful treatment routine that works best for the parents and the baby. Chiropractic for infants is different than chiropractic care for adults. For babies I use very light touch and pressure.  Babies require only a gentle rhythmic rocking of the spine to re-establish balance. In fact most of the babies I treat sleep through the majority of their treatment!

It’s usually Mom who brings the baby in to see me (although I love it when Dad comes too so he can see firsthand what the whole thing is about!) I will often dim the lights to make the baby nice and relaxed. I have Mom hold the baby throughout the whole treatment so that the baby always feels safe. We start with babe face down on Mom’s chest so I can gently work on their back. I use my finger tips and a small amount of pressure to assess the spinal joints and the pelvic joints. Then I have Mom hold the baby in a cradle position so I can gently assess their neck. There is no twisting or turning. Just light fingertip motion through the joints. This is the move that almost always puts them to sleep! As they baby grows I adapt my treatment – soon they are able to lie on the table by themselves. I have a series of pillows and props to make them comfortable. But Mom is never far away and usually has a hand on the baby the whole time.

  Do you have some specific success stories that you could share?

YES! Many! The first thing that comes to mind is pooping!! I have helped so many babies and toddlers and even older kids with pooping trouble. Chiropractic care is so effective for constipation. In fact the babies I work on will often have a nice big poop the same day we treat or even in the car on the way home!

I have had a lot of success with neck issues as well. If a baby is born with a small neck injury they won’t want to turn their head to one side. You will notice that they always lean towards one side or sleep on one side. You might find they don’t like to nurse on one side and as time goes on they will develop a flat spot on their heads. This kind of issue responds beautifully and in no time we can improve that range of motion and remove any discomfort the baby is feeling. This is a classic example of how important it is to catch these problems early. The longer they live with this the more they learn to compensate and the tissues start to grow to accommodate the imbalance and it gets more complicated and harder to correct.

I have heard that some parents have a chiropractor on hand shortly after the birth for an immediate adjustment – how can this help a baby?

This simply comes down to finding and correcting any issues that might be present as quickly as possible. This is a great idea. Catching these problems early makes everything so much easier. I usually tell my patients to get in with their baby as soon as they can. I understand that the first few days after a baby is born are hectic and magical and obviously it is not always possible to run out to another appointment. If everything is going well and the baby is latching and feeding well then there’s no problem taking a bit of time. If they can get in within the first few weeks, that’s great.  But if there are issues with nursing or the baby seems quite distressed or the birth was particularly traumatic then the earlier the better for everyone!

What are the most common concerns that you hear against baby chiropractic visits? Perhaps you can speak to these and enlighten parents against these concerns?

I think a main concern is fear for the safety of the baby.  A baby seems so delicate that parents are often afraid of what a chiropractor will do to their little bodies. This comes down to lack of knowledge about what we do.  When it is explained to them, and they see how gentle it is, then that fear leaves very quickly. Also, there have been many research studies on this topic and there has never been a paper showing any ill effects at all! It’s one of the safest, most non-invasive, most natural things you can do for your baby. And like I said before, it is often extremely effective after only a few treatments. I honestly find it hard to imagine how anyone could be against a treatment like this.

Some people have the idea that babies or children in general simply don’t need care for their bodies.  Often, my adult patients are surprised to learn that I treat babies.  They can’t imagine why they would need to see me.  But, small bodies get injured just like big bodies, and babies and kids lead a rough and active life.  If you fell as often or banged your head as often as your little ones do, how would your body feel? Almost all injuries that adults get, I’ve seen in children as well.  Fortunately, their young, perfect little bodies heal much faster and respond to treatment so quickly which is great!

 I think often there is misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding chiropractic work – what is one (or a few) main thought(s) that you would like to share with readers about chiropractic work?

I think chiropractic care is amazing. Becoming a chiropractor requires 8 years of post-secondary education. We are a highly educated group and are very skilled at providing treatment to the muscles and joints of the body. There is a mountain of research supporting the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic care. We have one of the highest patient satisfaction rates of any health profession!

Every day I help people with all kinds of issues. From headaches to low back pain. I do a ton of work with pregnant patients to help with pain and to improve their labour outcomes. Chiropractic can have a huge impact on a baby’s development and growth and continues to have value as a child becomes older.  The care I provide is gentle, hands-on and skilled. In our world today there are many treatment options available and the onus is on the patient or the parent to do their own research and see what’s out there.  Don’t make up your mind about something before you actually try it. Talk to a chiropractor, ask questions and try some treatment to see what chiropractic can do for you and your family!

If you have any further questions or would like any additional information please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy and The Webster Technique

Since I graduated from Chiropractic College I have been practicing in my family’s clinic in Byron. During my chiropractic training we learned about caring for pregnant patients and what types of treatments to perform. I always had an interest in this areas but it wasn’t until I went through the experience myself that I became completely passionate about it.

As I was going on my own personal journey to become a mother I also began a professional journey to learn more about prenatal chiropractic. I attended a number of specific workshops and seminars and became certified in a chiropractic technique called The Webster Technique, which specializes in the care of pregnant women. Since then I have watched my waiting room slowly start to fill with amazing Mama’s and their big, beautiful bellies and I have never found my work to be more satisfying.

After working with these new Moms I started to notice that many of them had the same questions and concerns about the type of care I could provide. Some of them were nervous, some had no idea what to expect and some had very different preconceptions about what the care would be like. This type of treatment is something I believe so strongly in that I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a little information, answer some of the common questions I get and at the very least give you all something to think about and as you travel along your own pregnancy paths.

There are a few basic underlying principles that really define how I think about Chiropractic care. The first is that it’s a natural treatment. I know this seems kind of obvious but it’s actually quite a powerful truth – especially when you’re dealing with a pregnant woman. When a woman is pregnant almost everything that the traditional medical system has to offer becomes off limits. Drugs and scans and tests are invasive and dangerous. This often means that pregnant women are turned away and told there’s nothing that can be done for them – no options to help with their mind numbing back pain, nothing that can fix the stabbing pain between their shoulder blades, or the weakness they feel in their pelvis. Nothing that can help them sleep better or continue to exercise. They are told these are just “normal side effects of pregnancy” and to just live with it. The fact is that this is totally and completely untrue.   Sadly so many pregnant women are not even aware of all the options that they have. They aren’t aware of all of the amazing treatments that are completely safe, and the majority of the time, are extremely effective.

The second paramount principle I practice by is an underlying trust and respect for the body. Your body knows what it’s doing. It knows how to grow a baby from scratch. It knows how to nurture that baby and keep that baby safe and when the time is best it knows how to bring that baby into the world.  Chiropractic treatment is meant to support the body through this process, to remove any interference that may prevent it from doing its job.

The third and final principle that I hold in very high regard is the power of gentle, meaningful touch. The healing power of touch is a lost art in our world. When I use my hands to ease a tired muscle or move a stiff joint the results can be profound. Using my hands to identify the source of discomfort or imbalance and then using gentle motions to correct it is a very powerful thing and is a skill that I take great pride in.

So, these are the underlying principles that everything else stems from. From there the technique becomes more specialized. This leads me to the Webster Technique. This is a specific chiropractic technique that is designed to help pregnant patients. I could go on and on about this but I will try to cover the main points so you have an idea of what this treatment entails.

The goals of this technique are to establish biomechanical balance in the spine and pelvis. This allows the ligaments that support the uterus to be relaxed and healthy. Which in turn allows the uterus to be relaxed and not experience any external stresses.  Without this stress, the baby is free to assume the most natural and ideal position within the uterus. Fetal position is a key factor in how the labour and delivery will progress. I try to remove all of the biomechanical stresses that I can to allow the body to work through the birth with as little interference as possible. Over the years I have had so much success with helping to correct mal-positioned babies. Anyone who is dealing with a breech presentation should give some chiropractic treatment a try. The results are really outstanding!

This technique also works to help correct imbalances that lead to aches and pains during pregnancy. We work together to identify the structures that are too weak and those that are too tight and correct these issues.

The treatment itself is quite specific and a little different from a standard chiropractic visit. Some of the same adjustments are used to the neck and mid back but the pelvic work is unique. It involves gentle mobilization of the joints in the pelvis. Specific soft tissue work along the pelvic ligaments including the two large round ligaments in the front and then some specific stretches to these structures. I work with a series of pillows and props to help keep my Mamas completely comfortable at all times. Treatments usually begin within the second trimester. I don’t have a set schedule that I follow, because each case is different, but in general we spread the treatments out unless a specific issue arrives then as we enter the third trimester and begin preparing for birth they become more frequent.

During both of my pregnancies I received this type of treatment and I got to experience first-hand the impact it had on me and my births. It helped with the pains I had, it helped me sleep better and I truly believe it contributed to two very smooth, quick, home births.

I really believe that every pregnant woman would benefit from some prenatal chiropractic care. And I am absolutely adamant that anyone who has a breech baby should at least give this type of treatment a try to see if it can help return the baby to an ideal position for labour. Prenatal chiropractic and the Webster technique are such a wonderful option and if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about it please give me a call!

My personal and professional journey through pregnancy and birth

I am the proud Mama of 2 beautiful little girls. It was 4 years ago that I found out I was pregnant with my first baby and  it was because of her and my journey through pregnancy, birth and motherhood that I quickly grew to love everything about the world of  birth and babies. This love quickly began impacting  my professional life. I am a chiropractor with a specialty and absolute passion for treating pregnant women and their babies.

I decided the best way to start sharing all of the information I know about chiropractic and pregnancy would be to write about some of my experiences during my pregnancy, where I got to see chiropractic from the perspective of a patient.  Nothing teaches us more than firsthand experience. You can read all you want about pubic symphysis pain and pregnancy induced sciatica but until you go through it you have no idea!

As a professional who has spent years studying the musculoskeletal system, it was incredible watching my body physically transform as my baby grew and the birth got closer. The curve of my spine changed, my ribs expanded, my pelvis loosened and shifted, my stance and gait widened and my whole posture shifted under the weight of all of these changes. It is no wonder that during a process like this some aches and pains are bound to happen. Overall I had a wonderful, complication free pregnancy – but I had tons of musculoskeletal pain at different points along the way. At times these pains were very intense and honestly if it weren’t for the chriopractic care I received it would have been really hard to get through.

I started my training to become a chiropractor at the University of Western Ontario where I received my degree in Health Science. I then went onto Chiropractic College in Toronto for another 4 years. After that I took several courses in the treatment of pregnant patients and became certified in a specific prenatal specialty called the Webster Technique. I am a second generation chiropractor. I had the pleasure of joining my Dad’s practice when I finished my training and we have been working together in Byron ever since. I received chiropractic care from him from the first few days after I peed on the stick up until the day I went into labour 2 days past my due date. At times I was honestly amazed at how well the care I received worked – even on the most intense pain. Over the course of the 9 months I suffered from rib pain, neck stiffness, shooting leg pain, pubic symphysis pain and generalized achiness. The treatments and adjustments I received significantly helped, if not resolved all of these issues.

At our office we have a treatment style that is very specific, very hands on and very gentle. The treatment I received was a combination of regular chiropractic adjustments of the spine as well as the specific protocol outlined in the Webster Technique. This technique is designed to optimize the biomechanical balance of the pelvic bones, ligaments and muscles to facilitate optimal function and coordination during delivery. I can’t stress enough how much this treatment helped me. I was passionate about chiropractic before, but going through this made me even more eager to tell everyone I know how great it can be. During pregnancy some pain is inevitable but you do not have to live with it. Chiropractic care is so effective and safe and natural – there is just no reason not to use it to help you through.

I also have to share my thoughts on the role that chiropractic played in my labour and delivery. During my pregnancy I was really committed to doing everything I could to prepare my body for the smoothest and safest delivery possible. Not only did I want to make sure I did everything I could to protect my baby; I also wanted to make the whole process as easy on myself as I possibly could. I read everything I could get my hands on. I learned about waterbirth and homebirth and midwives and labour support. I read academic research and birth stories. I took prenatal classes and went to information nights. I grilled my midwives at each visit with pages of questions. It was awesome! I learned so much and in the end I took everything I learned, I did everything I could do, I listened to all the right people and I had a wonderful, beautiful homebirth. My body was prepared, my baby was in the perfect position and after only five and a half hours of labour my little girl was here. One of the coolest parts about my educational journey was discovering how the most powerful, age-old wisdom and ideas clicked with how I thought and felt and how much it aligned with some of the core principles that make me love the chiropractic profession.

One of the most powerful concepts that stayed with me and reverberated through my brain during each contraction was the concept of “getting out of your own way”. I am a type-A person who likes to be in control but I knew that when it came to my birth I just had to get out of the way, relinquish control, trust my body and let nature and my baby do their thing. When I approach the treatment of a pregnant patient I think of it in a very similar way. As the chiropractor my job is to mobilize the joints, correct imbalances, place my hands on the patient in a gentle, healing way, all with the intention of allowing the body to perform in the perfect, elegant way it is meant to. I set the body up so that nothing interferes with its ability to perform effectively during labour. I remove any biomechanical imbalances so that the baby can assume the most natural position. I mobilize the joints so that they can fully move and conform during the baby’s descent. The process of birth is a very specific, complicated, elegant dance and if the conditions are right our body will naturally move through this dance safely and efficiently.

After going through the entire process of pregnancy and birth to say I learned a lot is such an understatement. Whenever I run into a pregnant mother or talk to a patient about care I find I am just bursting with information I want them to know. Having a baby is truly the most significant thing I have ever done and the birth itself was so powerful and meaningful. I am amazed at how often I still think back to my birth. I replay every moment. I often look at the clock and remember where I was at that specific point in time. I have met so many mothers who had difficult birth experiences. I watch them tell their stories with tears in their eyes, expressing how they will do things differently next time. I know now that our birth experiences will stay with us for the rest of our lives. It is this knowledge and experience that gives me a burning desire to help educate women and share what I know so that they are armed with the knowledge and confidence to approach their births prepared and empowered.

I want to tell every woman to explore midwifery care. I want them to truly understand the absolutely priceless role of a doula or labour support. I want them all to read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I would encourage them to read and learn about the benefits of labouring at home and the importance of being comfortable in your surroundings. And I would tell all of them to find a good chiropractor – one that you bond with, one who specializes in pregnancy and is trained in the Webster technique. Add a chiropractor to your healthcare team. Let someone help you through the aches and pains. Don’t believe those who say that these pains are a normal part of pregnancy and there’s nothing you can do about it. There is plenty you can do about it! Do everything you can to get your body in the best shape possible so that you can let go and trust that your body will do what it was made to do – deliver your baby smoothly and safely into your arms.