This is a very common question that is asked by new moms and dads. When is it safe to have my baby checked?
I will get right to it………..
Right after birth would be amazing!
Why after birth?
Let’s chat about the why, because we believe the WHY is the most important thing to consider.
Often times, this answer is first met with a “Huh? Really? What would possibly be wrong with a brand new baby?”
Consider this, birth is HARD. It is work for mom, AND baby. Even the most uncomplicated births expose the baby to forces that are brand new to them. Babies are extremely vulnerable in that they have not fully developed supporting structures around their spinal cord. Their spines are largely cartilage, their supporting joints are not fully formed, and their ligaments and muscles are incapable of providing support.
We all know this. When we are holding a newborn, we are extremely aware of holding and supporting the head. Why? Because we understand that the neck is vital to protect given it holds an incredible amount of neurology such as the brain stem.
Research has shown that 99/100 babies born showed somatic dysfunction in the upper neck, when assessed by osteopaths. (somatic dysfunction is essentially what we would call subluxation – a joint segment that is either stuck in an improper position, or fixated with improper joint movement).
If we consider uncomplicated births, traveling through the birth canal is tough. However, where we really see issues enhanced is in births with complications and interventions.
Things such as induction, forceps, vacuum, section deliveries – all place added forces and stress to the structure of the baby, especially the upper neck.
We are not commenting the appropriateness of these interventions (this is not our area of scope). We operate on the assumption that the care providers and parents involved, outweighed the risks and benefits and did what they determined best in that moment.
What we see time and time again is that the more emotional, chemical and physical stress that was experienced throughout pregnancy and delivery (up until we meet the baby) the more likely we find issues in the neck, cranium, palate, jaw, and even the sacrum.
In retrospect cases, we find a similar trend.
Birth plays a big role in the neurodevelopment and health outcomes of babies. We find many research articles discussing these relationships.
Here is one to start with. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29577380
So what does a chiropractor do for a newborn and is it safe?
The biggest thing we do is check them. We look for things like spinal motion, cranium and jaw symmetry, palate shape, head tilts, hip mobility, sacrum symmetry (by means of glut folds) tenderness in the neck area, abdominal tone, rigidity in movements, reflexes, etc.
We ask about ability to sleep and calm, bowel and bladder habits, side preference for feeding, troubles or issues with latch, these are the main things.
Our office looks deeper at things like heart rate variability that helps us understand their ability to adapt to their environment. We also look at thermography where we see neurological asymmetries relating to skin temperature along side the spine. This indicates signs of stress and imbalance in the nervous system. Both of these tests are non invasive and hardly noticed by baby, and helpful for assessing baby beyond overt symptoms.
By correcting the tension and stress in the nervous system, we can help unwind the tension that exists that would keep your child more dominant in a stress response. As we do this, there is a consequential shift to balance into more growth, development, rest and digest mode. Balance is KEY, especially during this burst of neurodevelopment that occurs within the first 2 years of life.
What does stress dominant look like in a baby?
The most common things we see in babies are things like sleep troubles, irregular bowel movements, irritability, rigidity (“strong baby”), colic or excessive crying, troubles nursing, gassy, head tilts – these are the most common symptoms. Some babies do not display any overt symptoms – so it’s always best to just get checked (much like a cavity- it can take time before a symptom develops).
What do we do with abnormal or sub optimal findings?
When issues are found, gentle pressures (adjustments) are applied to the appropriate locations to help find balance structurally and hence neurologically. The way our spine moves affects the information that passes up to the brain. The more EASE of movement, the more relaxed the baby, the more EASE in the nervous system.
There is NO THRUST in a baby. The corrections are gentle, and often times go unnoticed by the baby – unless we are dealing with a more tense neck. It can take time and patience but in our experience, dissipates when the subluxation is corrected and ease is restored.
Think about this for a moment…
Between the ages of 0-2, neurological development is incredibly rapid. Think of all of the things your baby learns in those short 2 years! When there is more ease and calm, and coordination within the nervous system during this time, the better the impact it will have on development.
This is our ultimate goal of care.
So the most optimal time for a check up? We suggest is as soon after birth as possible. Usually the biggest thing is that Mom and dad are feeling well enough to venture out.
We are so blessed to be able to provide care for our babies right after birth. Both were physically uncomplicated births, our first was a 28 hour labor – and second was 5 hours.
You can read more here:
Chiropractic is just part of their lives, and so many of the families we care for.
Just get checked from a Chiropractor who is trained in pediatric care – and go from there.