Surprising Long-Term Effects of Birth
As you’ve likely noticed, we spend a great deal of time concerning ourselves with optimizing the birth experience for our patients. Obviously, we want the experience of pregnancy and birth to be a positive one for our patients and this is one reason we focus so much on this topic, but there is more to it than that. People are often surprised that we sometimes ask for information regarding our adult patients’ births as part of obtaining their health history. Why would we care about something that happened to you 20, 30, or more years ago? The answer is simple - because the things that occur during birth can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of good health or it can set off a cascade of negative health consequences. This is why we focus so much on pregnancy, birth, and newborn care. If you’re coming to us as an adult, it is important for us to have this information so that we have a complete picture of your health history.
Before we talk about the long-term complications, let’s review the normal process of pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy for comparison. Ideally, pregnancy is a comfortable time in a woman’s life where she is relaxed, happy, and free to focus on the health of herself and her baby. Labor begins spontaneously and the baby is welcomed into a natural, calm, nurturing environment and is able to instantly bond with their parents through immediate skin-to-skin contact and nursing on demand. Infancy is spent bonding with family members and progressing through the developmental milestones in their proper sequence.
Let’s look at a few examples of how something simple can have drastic long-term effects on a person’s health – all from what occurs during birth.
Imagine that labor is progressing normally but the pushing phase is taking several hours, and the mother begins to be understandably exhausted. To help things along, baby’s head is manipulated through the birth canal – either manually or with tools such as forceps or vacuum. The baby is finally born and handed to their relieved parents to cuddle. However, a few hours after birth, the baby has been completely unable to nurse from one side and struggled to nurse from the other side – the baby has a difficult time turning their head to one side and also has difficulty fully opening their mouth to achieve a proper latch. Difficulties like this are often due to a Structural Shift caused by the forces placed on the baby’s head and spine during the delivery. Now, if this issue is caught early and the Structural Shift is corrected, they will likely begin nursing properly and have relatively few issues related to delivery in the future. However, say that the issue isn’t caught or corrected early. The baby continues to struggle to nurse, which in turn causes the parent's milk supply to drop. Finally, it is decided that low milk supply is the problem and the baby should have formula. Now the baby has an uncorrected Structural Shift and is missing out on the health benefits of breastmilk – not to mention that the parent is missing the health benefits of breastfeeding. The baby begins to have frequent respiratory infections and constipation and after several weeks of this, it is finally discovered that they were allergic to the formula they were on. Formula is switched and the baby is now feeling better, but at one of their checkups, it is discovered that they have a sizeable flat spot on their head, and they still haven’t started to roll over yet. Is the baby developmentally delayed or do they just have a hard time turning their head from side to side, and therefore unable to initiate the motion of rolling over? This sounds like a drastic example, but this exact set of circumstances and ones strikingly similar to it are experienced far too often by children who have every other potential to be healthy and high-functioning. One can extrapolate further from the above example to a future filled with developmental delays, helmets, trouble introducing solid foods, and more – all causing unnecessary suffering for the child and unnecessary stress for the parents.
When things go awry, the job of your healthcare providers, including your chiropractor, is to help you return to normal as quickly as possible. For example, if it is discovered that your baby is having difficulty moving into the head-down position in preparation for birth, we focus more on pelvic alignment and structure to ensure there is nothing about your structural alignment impeding their efforts. During labor, if it is discovered that progress is slowing or if your pain levels are becoming too intense, we again can analyze the structures of your lower spine and pelvis and help them function normally through the exertion of labor and delivery. Once your baby is delivered and has had a moment to meet you and bond with you, we can perform a gentle structural analysis to ensure that any Structural Shifts incurred during the intense birthing process are corrected as early as possible. Now that your body is getting used to not being pregnant, we again help to ensure that your body handles the transition as smoothly as possible. By incorporating Structural Chiropractic care into your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum/infancy period, you are setting yourself, your baby, and your family up for their best chance at a healthy beginning.
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