Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel talk to Alyssa about Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), how to prevent it, how to treat it, and things every pregnant and postpartum woman should be doing! You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Hello. Welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas. I am Alyssa, and I’m talking with Dr. Rachel and Dr. Annie again of Rise Wellness Chiropractic. How are you?
So I got asked by a client about symphysis pubis dysfunction, and I’m not even exactly sure what that is, but you knew. Right when I told you, you knew. So can you tell me?
So SPD — sometimes people think of sensory processing disorder, which is with older kids, but in relation to pregnancy, it’s symphysis pubis dysfunction.
And what the heck does that mean?
It’s a mouthful! So basically, where your two pelvic bones meet in the front is called your symphysis pubis, so that’s where the two bones meet together. There’s cartilage in between there, and that area widens for birth. So usually late second to third trimester, we’ll see some women will start having pain. That can be related to the relaxin that’s in their system that’s helping the ligaments loosen and helping that area separate, but what we usually find is it’s more due to pelvic imbalances. Usually one side of the pelvis is higher than the other or something like that or it’s rubbing in a weird way. That’s usually what causes that symphysis pubis dysfunction.
So it’s strictly for pregnancy?
And are there any ways to not get it? Avoid it? Treat it?
Yeah, just because if it’s caused from a misalignment —
Exactly. Yeah, if it’s caused from pelvis imbalances, then that is directly a chiropractic issue. It’s biomechanical. That’s something that we can address through adjustments. And then we also have stretches that you can do, and there’s also a Serola belt which is like an SI belt. It goes around your sacroiliac joints, and it’s just a low belt. It doesn’t really do anything in terms of — it’s not like a belly band or something that you would wear to support the baby, but it does help to support the SI joints and keep everything together. Really, it’s hypermobility in that joint that’s causing that pain.
It’s too mobile?
It’s too mobile. Yeah, so we usually see it with not first-time pregnant moms but usually second or third, especially if they’ve had some kind of fall or something like that while pregnant. They can injure their pelvis, and that’s usually what brings those things up. I actually had a patient a couple weeks who came to us for SPD, and under care, she was doing great. All her pain went away. But she had fallen during her first pregnancy, and then during her second pregnancy, she started having all this pain and stuff come on.
So falling during pregnancy; it’s not just like a random fall at any time in your life that could affect this?
It could be. Pregnancy is really good at exacerbating existing issues or past issues. Like if you’ve had any pelvic imbalances in your past and then you’re pregnant, just that relaxin is going to kind of flare things up. Typically, what we see is pain with putting weight on one leg. Climbing stairs is when your pelvis is moving the most, so that’s usually when a lot of the pain is flared up.
Walking; something that you don’t have to do very often.
But sitting is not good for it either. It’s one of those things that nothing is good for it.
Laying hurts; turning while you’re laying. Like that’s not already hard when you’re in the third trimester!
Does it actually cause any more pain or discomfort during labor and delivery?
It can. It depends on really, like, what the pelvis — because if you think of the pelvic bowl, if there’s imbalances in the pelvis, it’s not just affecting the bones. It’s also affecting your pelvic floor muscles. It’s affecting all of your stabilizer muscles. So it can potentially affect how things go during labor. I don’t know if it creates more pain, necessarily, or if it would be, but any pelvic imbalance is going to effect, probably, the efficiency of your labor.
Plus, it doesn’t necessarily clear up after.
That was my next question.
Yeah, it’s not like you deliver the baby and then it’s gone.
Because you still have that imbalance?
So then what do you do for that? Just keep getting adjusted?
Well, it should clear. If you’re getting adjusted, it should help clear it up while pregnant. So I guess what we’re saying is, you should get checked if it’s happening.
I mean, it’s definitely like you have to retrain that pelvic imbalance somehow, and you do that through chiropractic adjustments or through exercises, through physical therapy, sutff like that.
Yeah. PT floor rehab, yeah.
Probably a combination of both, right?
Right. If you do it all, then you probably have best outcomes.
Yeah, I don’t think we understand how important the pelvic floor is, and all we’ve learned is Kegels. That’s not necessarily even a good thing to think. When I saw a physical therapist for pelvic floor issues specifically, I was, like, that makes so much sense! Even just the way we breathe; I didn’t know that my diaphragm was part of — what would that be? The top? The diaphragm is the top of your pelvic floor?
Yeah. It’s the top of your —
Like the space? I guess I can’t say top of the floor. Your pelvic floor is the floor.
Your intrabdominal space. So it’s like the lid, and then your pelvic floor is the bottom. But it’s a big airtight balloon, pretty much, so when you breathe, it affects everything. But pelvic floor is an issue that we don’t talk about, really, with women in birth, but it’s a huge thing. Every woman who pushes out a baby has pelvic floor issues. Every woman who has a C-section has pelvic floor issues because those are attached to your abdominals, too. So, really, every woman should be getting some kind of rehab on pelvic floor after birth. That’s my soapbox!
I’m in these group exercise classes, and every woman is, like, oh, jumping jacks. I’m going to pee my pants! I had one friend who was, like, I was working out and I didn’t know if it was sweat or I had peed my pants! Yeah. I get it!
Well, pelvic floor and core strength, too, are both things that get overlooked with women after pregnancy, and then we see women with back pain later, and it’s because their core is so weak. So, really, we’re just promoting physical therapy pelvic floor rehab. It’s what needs to be done.
And chiropractic care. Retraining all that neurology is important.
I think even just learning about it! I’ve done yoga classes forever, and they will say, like, during this pose, tighten your pelvic floor. I’m, like, what the hell are they talking about? What? How do I do that? But now after learning that even breathing is different and the feeling of — I hate saying Kegel because it’s not even what it is, but I guess that is the feeling of what you would do to stop your pee, but doing that during certain exercises is a whole different feeling, but I think now that I’m conscious of it, I’m, like, oh, that makes sense. Oh, I can do that here. Okay. It’s gotten a lot better, but I still can’t do jumping jacks.
See? The jumping jacks! I don’t do them either. They’re like, do jumping jacks to warm up, and I’m like… No.
I do the ones where I just put my hands up. I just kick my leg out. I’m fine with it!
It’s what everyone’s doing! They call those jumping jills.
Is there anything else pregnant or postpartum women need to know about symphysis pubis dysfunction?
It’s not something that you need to suffer through. There’s a lot of chiropractic studies where it helps in a lot of case studies, but also, biomechanically, it makes sense. You don’t have to feel like you can’t walk up the stairs or sit or that you have to be in a lot of pain when you’re trying to sleep. Find out you’re pregnant and get under care. That’s really what we tell people.
Tell people where to find you!
We are in East Town in the Kingsley Building right next to Gold Coast Doulas, or you can find us at our website or on Facebook and Instagram. You can message us on those platforms.
Well, as always, thanks! We’ll have you on again soon!
Today we talk with Dr. Theresa, Chiropractor and BIRTHFIT Instructor in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We ask her about what’s safe for a pregnant and postpartum mom to be doing and why having a supportive tribe around is so important. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud. Be sure to listen in or keep reading to get a special discount code for your BIRTHFIT registration!
Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas! I’m Kristin.
Alyssa: And I’m Alyssa.
Kristin: And we’re here with Dr. Theresa today from BIRTHFIT. She is also a chiropractor and does many things, which she’ll explain later. So, Dr. Theresa, tell us about BIRTHFIT and why you decided to bring this to Grand Rapids.
Dr. Theresa: Yeah, so I have been in practice for about seven years, focused on the perinatal population, and I found this big disconnect in the postpartum time where women are preparing for birth, and it’s kind of like this mindset of, okay, I just need to get through birth. And we’re kind of forgetting about that postpartum time where the real work begins, because now you’re not only taking care of a new family member, but you need to heal and take care of yourself, too. So I really wanted to help with that time specifically and give women more information on what they can do.
Kristin: So when does a woman typically take your class after they’ve had their baby?
Dr. Theresa: We recommend the first two weeks postpartum as the coregulation period, so that would be way too early to take my class. That’s when you are bonding with Baby, hopefully not really leaving the house at all, and usually after that time, women are like, okay, I’m ready. So probably the earliest somebody has taken my class was after two weeks postpartum, and that was almost an exception to my rule because of her fitness level during her pregnancy and before. But for the most part, I recommend four to six weeks as a perfect time. But also with that being said, postpartum is forever, and I’ve had moms that are a year or two years postpartum take the class.
Kristin: That’s what I’ve seen on your social media posts, and tell us about how babies are involved.
Dr. Theresa: Yeah! I kind of time my classes so that, even though women are on their maternity leave, they may have other kiddos at home that they want their husband to come home and take care of. But Baby needs to come with Mom, and we totally encourage that because they need to nurse or they need to be tended to during our class. So we encourage moms to bring their babies; bring your favorite carrier, and we can implement them during the workout in a safe way.
Kristin: That is amazing. Do you find, since you also have a prenatal series, that women take that during pregnancy, and then you’re able to extend the relationship into the postpartum time?
Dr. Theresa: Yes, that is the goal, and my last session for the prenatal series is all about postpartum. So I talk to them about things they can during pregnancy to stay active and hopefully lead to better birth outcomes, but then what can you start doing postpartum at what time. So for those first two weeks, right away, women can start working on their belly breath, whether they’ve had a C-section or a vaginal birth. They can start doing that to mobilize their pelvic floor in a really gentle way, and then also reteach their abdominal wall how to come back together.
Kristin: You mentioned Cesarean. If she had a Cesarean, does the provider need to give approval at some point for her to start taking your series, or how does that work?
Dr. Theresa: Good question. So, typically they’re released for exercise, depending on the person, between 8 to 12 weeks or whenever the scab falls off is usually another really good time to start doing some exercise. And with those women, we teach the slow-is-fast mindset anyway, for everybody, but especially for those women, because now there’s a different pull happening when they move. So that can be a little bit scary, so we talk through those things; we talk through signs that, okay, we need to slow down a little bit. So it’s totally customizable to the woman and the birth that she had, which is also why I keep the class sizes small. They’re limited to about ten people per class, so I make sure everybody’s being tended to.
Kristin: Now, of course, you mentioned some of your students are very fit and they exercise throughout pregnancy. So say they’re a CrossFitter or they took prenatal yoga. What about women who were not in shape before they got pregnant and who are trying this and worried about their fitness level?
Dr. Theresa: Yes! Those are my favorite clients that I have in these classes because most of the women have never picked up a barbell before; women like that who have really never exercised. And when I first did this, you think BIRTHFIT; CrossFit — is it the same thing? And it is not the same thing at all, so I don’t want that to intimidate people. When I say barbell, that could be an empty 15-pound barbell that’s just there to give you a little bit of load, and it can even help you with your form on some of the movements. So we go really slow, and we really focus on form and breathing through each and every movement. And I love to see how confident these women get when they have a barbell in their hand. Or when we’re coaching pull-ups and we use a band to help assist them with the pull-up, and they have so much fun! They’re like, I never thought I could do a pull-up before! And it’s just the coolest thing to see.
Kristin: So what, of all the focuses you could have, why are you so passionate about the postpartum phase in women’s life? You’re focused, obviously, on prenatal, as well.
Dr. Theresa: So I think we’re really luck in Grand Rapids. There are so many resources for prenatal. There are some awesome childbirth education classes, and I see a lot of people preparing and taking multiple childbirth education classes and taking, like, car safety and CPR and all the things to get ready for a baby, and then postpartum kind of looks like this, where they go to their six-week checkup, and they’re released for exercise and maybe they’re given a sheet with exercises to do on it, like strengthen your abs and do Kegels. And it’s such a blanket recommendation that is not doing service to women the way that we need them to be feeling really connected back to their body through the four pillars of BIRTHFIT, which are fitness, nutrition, mindset, and connection. So I think those four things are so important in the postpartum time that women aren’t having the opportunity to do or they’re not understanding how they can do it postpartum. So I want to take each person and individualize to them: what can you do postpartum to really help fill your cup so you can take care of everybody else?
Kristin: And it sounds like a wonderful community. Women are often isolated after giving birth and they struggle with childcare or even wanting to leave their child. So they can bring Baby with them and find a circle that women are going through the same thing around the same time; some may have toddlers and be the “wise ones” to give the newer moms some advice. So I think that part of it sounds great because everyone needs a tribe. I know that word is overused, but it’s true.
Dr. Theresa: Yeah, and that is so fun, to see them exchanging phone numbers. This summer is the first year — because I just finished up my first year of BIRTHFIT. I started in 2018, so now I’m on my second cycle of it, and we’re going to do a meet-up this summer where, whether it’s going out for coffee or meeting in a park or whatever, because women are asking for that. They want to see the people that they took class with; they want to talk to other people. So I really loved that. We also have a private Facebook group, so they’re able to still keep in touch that way, too.
Kristin: And then you’re able to give them resources in the community if they need to see a pelvic floor therapist. I know you said you work on the pelvic floor, but they need recommendations, and as an expert, you’re able to give them.
Dr. Theresa: Absolutely.
Kristin: And postpartum doula recommendations and sleep and lactation and whatever they might be looking for?
Dr. Theresa: Yes, exactly, and I really keep that door open. We always have, during each class — so we meet twice a week for four weeks during the series. At each class, there’s a workout, but then there’s always an education component, whether I’m having my good friend Emily VanHOeven from Spectrum Health, who’s a pelvic floor PT; she comes in and gives a really awesome presentation and answers questions for these women. I have a nutritionist come in, Jenna Hibler, who you guys had interviewed. She comes in and talks about nutrition. So I have these different resources and topics, depending on — and sometimes it changes, depending on the needs of the group. I kind of ask them in the beginning what they’re looking for and what they need, so that way I make sure, at some point, they’re getting that.
Kristin: That’s great!
Dr. Theresa: Yeah, it’s really fun!
Kristin: Alyssa, is anything coming to mind for you?
Alyssa: Where were you six years ago?! Because, yeah, it was really hard to find things to bring my daughter to with me postpartum. And I know some moms are like, no, I don’t want to bring my kid with me; I’m coming alone. This is my time. But when that’s not an option, it’s good to have a place that you can bring your baby, even if it’s just in a car seat right next to you. I mean, I’ve done that before, too.
Dr. Theresa: Absolutely, yeah. And the postpartum series takes place at the CrossFit gym I go to, CrossFit 616, and they have a childcare room there, which you never see. Especially in a CrossFit gym, it’s unheard of. And we’ve had a baby boom in the last couple of years within our gym, so it is not uncommon to see women breastfeeding just at the gym, out in the open, and it’s not uncommon to see somebody else holding somebody else’s baby and just kind of helping out. So it’s a great community.
Kristin: Yeah, I would not picture a childcare room in CrossFit at all!
Dr. Theresa: There’s a TV; they have PBS Kids. It’s pretty nice.
Kristin: I’ve supported some birth doula clients who were CrossFit, and they were incredibly strong and determined. So, yeah, I’m inspired that they’re so healthy that they could exercise in that way through the entire pregnancy.
Dr. Theresa: Exactly, and those are sometimes the hardest ones to teach that slow-is-fast mindset, and there have been several high-level CrossFitter women coming out now, like athletes coming out and saying, I really wish that after my first baby, I had done this differently because I did some serious damage just starting too soon. And then after they have their second baby, they’re like, I’m doing this differently and slowing down.
Alyssa: I like that you talk about breathing, even just having that breath, like that yoga breath, of when you breathe in, your stomach should expand, and that actually helps your pelvic floor. You don’t know that — I didn’t know that until I saw a pelvic floor therapist. I’m, like, breathing helps make my pelvic floor stronger? And it does! And how slow and gentle that is for somebody who just gave birth, no matter whether you had a Cesarean or a vaginal birth; that slow movement makes you stronger. Your breath makes you stronger.
Dr. Theresa: Absolutely. Those are our top pelvic floor tips: belly breathing and LuLuLemon high-waisted pants because they give just enough compression without too much downward pressure.
Kristin: And the focus on nutrition is key. Woman are so depleted, especially if they’re breastfeeding, so making sure that that’s part of the class and having someone who specializes in nutrition speaking — I love that you bring in experts.
Alyssa: If you want to ever talk about sleep, I would love to come in and talk about sleep.
Dr. Theresa: Yes! I am always looking for people who want to come in and talk to these women because it takes some of the pressure off of me, too, and they don’t have to listen to me talk the whole time. It’s nice to hear from an expert! That would be great! And a postpartum doula — I think a lot of women don’t know that’s a thing. That’s big.
Kristin: And I think of it as more of the tasks that we do as postpartum doulas, like someone to clean up or do meal preparation, and caring for the baby, but we are caring the whole baby and setting up strong systems and supporting sleep. So it could be anything from three hours in a week to 24/7, and so we’d love to come in and talk about our role and how we can support a family.
Alyssa: That would almost be better for a prenatal series, to get them thinking about it before. I think the biggest thing is that we plan for this birth, and then it’s like, what now? What do I do? I’m home alone with this baby. So talking to them about the resources that they have postpartum before the baby actually comes. Not that it’s too late; if you have a six-week old or a six-month old, you can still hire a doula, but it’s certainly more critical in those first few weeks.
Dr. Theresa: Right. And I find in my classes, it’s the women who are third- or fourth-time moms, even fifth-time moms, that are like, I understand why I need all of this stuff now to help support me. Even though you would look at them and think, oh, they must know it all; they’ve been through this — but those are the women who are seeking more information, I find, and they’re the ones hiring doulas and really trying to prepare because they know what they’re in for.
Alyssa: Exactly! They know how hard it is. These first-time moms are in this state of bliss, which you should be, thinking about all the wonderful things that will happen, but no matter what kind of birth you have, you’re going to be waking up every two to three hours while you’re healing. So you’re not getting the rest you need to heal. You can’t really exercise yet. You’re sleep deprived, and you are in pain. It’s hard!
Dr. Theresa: It is! It’s really hard! It’s so good to have support, from having somebody coming into your home to having that tribe, again, using that word, but having that tribe to talk about those things together. One of my favorite topics that we talk about during the postpartum series — and it’s totally one of those things I was nervous to even bring up because I don’t want to offend anybody, but talking about having sex for the first time. We’re talking about all of these things that other women are like, oh, my gosh — you, too? So having those resources to be able to talk — I think that’s a perfect thing, that you could have a conversation about that one-on-one with your doula, because I don’t know how many OBs are talking about that.
Alyssa: It’s a lot of what our doulas do postpartum is just tell them, this is normal; this is okay. Let’s normalize this. You know, as a first-time mom, breastfeeding is really hard and I’m failing. No, no, no. This is normal. Let’s talk to a lactation consultant, or let’s just change your latch a little. Some very simple things a doula can help with, but this mom might not even know she has a problem with latch. She might not know that it’s a problem that her nipples are cracked and bleeding. The doula can say, no, this isn’t normal; you do need to seek out additional help.
Dr. Theresa: Totally. Something that I’ve seen crop up a couple times lately are vasospasms, that they just have no idea what that is, so they don’t do anything about it, and it’s like, oh, this is a perfect opportunity to work with a doula or work with somebody who can be, like, oh, yeah, I’ve seen this before; this is what you do.
Alyssa: What’s a vasospasm?
Dr. Theresa: From nursing; it’s like Raynaud’s in your fingers where you lose blood supply, so the nipples turn white and it’s super painful. It’s like frostbite on your fingers, you know, that searing pain.
Alyssa: I get that on my fingers all the time. I can’t imagine that on my nipples!
Dr. Theresa: I know, yeah! And it’s things like warm compresses, checking latch; you can use some magnesium to help dilate the blood vessels. So some things like that can really save that mom some excruciating pain. Yeah, just talking about those things that people think are normal, and you’re like, no; that’s not normal. We can do stuff about that.
Alyssa: Well, and that’s the beauty of a doula, too. It’s different than a babysitter. It’s different than a nanny. Doulas have this vast knowledge and experience and resource base to share, and sometimes, it’s crying and talking together. Sometimes it’s just like, okay, go take a nap and I’ll clean up your house, and that mom feels like a million bucks after a two-hour nap and a clean living room when she makes up. It’s much, much more than that.
Kristin: And a doula, just like you, as an instructor, would have resources to say, hey, you should really check out this BIRTHFIT postpartum series, or you need to go see a chiropractor, or there are some things that you can do in the community. You can do to La Leche League meetings and bring your baby with you.
Alyssa: And I think that’s what you’re doing, too. It’s so much more than just going to work out. You mentioned those four pillars; they’re getting that, and that’s why they want to keep coming back and why it feels so good.
Dr. Theresa: Absolutely! And changing that mindset, because women want to come for the workout. They’re, like, yes, I want to get back in shape, and that’s kind of their focus is that physical piece. But we sneak in all this other educational stuff that they didn’t know that they needed, and they are able to leave with so much more than they thought they were going to get. I love that. I love seeing that.
Kristin: So, Dr. Theresa, tell us when your next series is, how people can find you and register, and any other info that is relevant.
Dr. Theresa: Yes! So this year, with the postpartum series, I also developed a workshop to do before the actual series starts. So the postpartum workshop is a two-hour event where we just focus on body weight exercises, more like floor exercises, which are great for that early postpartum time for Mom to get reconnected to her body. And it’s great, too, if Mom can’t commit to four weeks, but my goal is that women are taking the workshop and then they take the series, which builds on the workshop. So the next workshop starts April 23rd, and that’s from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at Renew Mama Studio, and then the series starts a week or two later; I believe it’s May 4th, something like that. It starts in May, and that will go for four weeks twice a week. And you can find more information on our website on how to register.
Kristin: And you said you had a special coupon code for Gold Coast clients and our podcast listeners?
Dr. Theresa: Yes, absolutely. So I’m offering $20 off registration using code BFLOVESGCD. That promo code can just be applied at checkout.
Kristin: Fantastic! Well, thanks for joining us today. It’s so good to see you, Dr. Theresa!
Dr. Theresa: Thank you! It’s so good to be here! Thank you for inviting me!
Today we talk with Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness Chiropractic to learn more about ear infections. What are the signs in children and how can chiropractic care help? Can it also help adults? You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas. This is Kristin, and I’m here with my business partner, Alyssa.
Kristin: And we also have Dr. Rachel.
Dr. Rachel: Hello!
Kristin: And Dr. Annie.
Dr. Annie: Hiya!
Kristin: From Rise Wellness here with us today, and our topic is ear infections in children, and certainly, we can also cover adults. So, Dr. Annie, I’ll let you take the lead on this. How can chiropractic care help with ear infections?
Dr. Annie: Crazy, right? So what we find with a lot of ear infection cases is that it’s related to how the nervous system is functioning, and so we find a lot of upper cervical, so upper neck misalignment affecting the nervous system, and affects how your ears drain. And so in kiddos or in adults, that’s usually the culprit, at least that’s what we find in our office, and it’s amazing what a simple adjustment can do to reawaken the nervous system in those areas and allow your ears to just drain and then allow your immune system to take care of it.
Kristin: Ear infections are no fun, especially with babies. I think the biggest thing is catching it early enough and identifying what the signs of an ear infection would be before it gets so bad that they need to go in and get scans and get antibiotics. So if they’re getting chiropractic care, then they’re able to, again, like you said, get drainage. But I think a lot of parents don’t know what the signs are of an ear infection, unless it gets to the point where it’s so bad that their baby is screaming and not sleeping. But there are some signs that I learned as a parent that I could catch early on.
Dr. Annie: What are those signs?
Kristin: My daughter had one when I was pregnant with my son and I had to take her in, but she was pulling on her ears. So if they’re pulling, and obviously if the ear is red — again, as we had mentioned in a previous podcast about that preference where if they’re not laying on their head on one side — so it’s just noticing what’s out of the norm for them.
Dr. Rachel: I think a lot of times they’ll have a cold, too, right? Because then that’s not draining well, so usually it’s an issue, and the bacteria builds up in there and creates an infection.
Dr. Annie: And it’s hard with little kids because you don’t necessarily — a lot of parents will confuse teething with ear infections, too, which is a big thing because a lot of drainage comes out when a baby is teething, too, so that can appear to be like a cold, and some kids will be put on antibiotics when it’s not even any sort of infection.
Kristin: So what’s an adjustment like for a baby with an ear infection or just too much fluid in their ears? Can you explain what that would be like?
Dr. Annie: Yeah, sure! So with anything, whether it’s an ear infection or whatever a parent is coming in for with their baby, what we’re looking for is subluxation. We’re looking for misalignment of the bone that’s affecting the nervous system there. And so we would do a scan to see how the nervous system is communicating at that area, and then the adjustment itself is just super gentle pressure with your pinkie. We say it’s the amount of pressure that you would use to check the ripeness of a tomato. It’s so gentle, to the point where parents are like, are you even doing anything? But it’s amazing what it can do. It will clear up the scan. It will help —
Alyssa: So you can do your little scan on a baby? Do they lay on their tummy and you scan them?
Dr. Rachel: Mom holds, and we can scan them, and then we’ll show the irritated area, which is usually in the upper cervical area.
Dr. Annie: It’s like every single time, we’re like, okay, we’re pretty sure this is what’s going on, and then we do the scan, and we’re like, yeah, exactly what we thought. It’s that upper cervical misalignment, that atlas. But the reason is those nerves that come out right there in the neck control the eustachian tube or the muscle that controls the eustachian tube. The nerve that goes to that controls the contraction of that muscle, so if that muscle’s not contracting, then the eustachian tube can’t milk fluid down, so then you get that fluid buildup in the ears, which is going to cause pressure, and a lot of those ear infection symptoms. Bacteria can grow in there, and that’s usually further down the line, but that’s why they are giving antibiotics for those things. So usually if you catch it, there isn’t even a bacterial infection. It’s just that buildup of fluid that’s causing pressure, that’s causing that irritation. So if we can correct that early and get that muscle working the way it’s supposed to, then the ears can drain and life’s good.
Dr. Rachel: It sounds like you’re catching an ear infection?
Alyssa: My ear started hurting yesterday, so I’m going to come see you and get adjusted! It’s on the same side that I’ve had that weird kink, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.
Dr. Annie: It’s all connected.
Alyssa: I’ll come have you fix me when we’re done.
Dr. Annie: Perfect!
Kristin: And I was having issues just last week with my ears popping or feeling like they couldn’t clear, and so I saw both Dr. Rachel and Dr. Annie, and I feel great right now! So even if it’s not a full-on infection, if you’re feeling like your ears are just not right, like they’re popping or you feel like you have water in the ear…
Dr. Annie: Or ringing in the ears, dizziness, stuff like that. I mean, it’s all related to that upper cervical spine, for sure.
Kristin: Yeah, it makes sense. So with a lot of these cases, they would need to just get in quickly, especially if they think their child has an ear infection. How would they go about reaching out to you if they’re not a current patient? How do they start that process?
Dr. Annie: They can find our information on our website . They can contact us on Facebook or Instagram, too, and send us a message. Both of those are @risewellnesschiro. Or they can call us.
Dr. Rachel: You can schedule your own appointment on our website.
Dr. Annie: Yeah, we try to make it really accessible, but we’ll also answer email anytime. We’re always on. Even if we don’t always answer the phone, we’re always…
Alyssa: That’s the motto of a business owner! You’re always on!
Dr. Annie: Especially with things like that, we want that to be your first response, to get your kid into the chiropractor. And so we want to be there for you when those situations arise. It’s not like a medical emergency, but to us, we want that to be your first line of defense, and then if things go awry from there, maybe seek treatment if needed, but usually, it’s not. Typically, we can clear some things up just by allowing the body to work naturally the way it’s supposed to.
Kristin: Yeah. Now, I don’t know a whole lot about tubes in the ear, but what — I mean, could chiropractic care prevent the need to get tubes?
Dr. Annie: So the tubes are to release pressure, so when I was talking about that nerve maybe not working or not communicating with that muscle the way it’s supposed to, if that muscle isn’t milking fluid down the ears, then you have that buildup of pressure. And so, often, to relieve that pressure, then tubes will be put in. And so what they do is they cut a little hole and then put a block in there so that hole can’t heal, because your body would heal it and just cover it up again, and then that pressure would build back up. So they put like a little tunnel in there to keep it open to relieve that pressure, like a pressure valve, but really, the need for that wouldn’t be necessary if things were working properly.
Dr. Rachel: One thing to note is if a kid has an ear infection, they come in, and they get adjusted, and maybe it clears up and they feel better right away, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t get another ear infection again. It’s one of those things, like, kids walk and they fall and they’re rolling and they’re hitting their heads. They can get a misalignment again, and that just might be how their body responds to that. So just because you get adjusted once and you get another ear infection later, it doesn’t mean that chiropractic didn’t work. It means that — like I said, my kids have been adjusted since birth. They get adjusted whenever they need to. It’s not like a one-time thing and then they’re good to go.
Kristin: And you said they haven’t had any ear infections as a result?
Dr. Rachel: No, they’ve never had an ear infection.
Alyssa: Well, especially kids — I mean, the amount of times a day my daughter falls or bumps into something — even me. I’m just as clumsy.
Dr. Rachel: The twins pull each other down now. They pull each other down on the ground.
Alyssa: Yeah. I probably misalign myself three times a day!
Dr. Rachel: Right. So it’s just one of those things, too, that I feel like sometimes people think, oh, they just need one adjustment and they’re good to go, but it’s also true that adjustment isn’t only good for ear infections. It’s just good to keep their nervous and immune system going.
Dr. Annie: Everything working in coordination.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah. And they respond really well to adjustments. Not that they have to come in three times a week; it’s more like just keeping up a maintenance thing to keep your kids checked.
Dr. Annie: That kind of depends, too, as far as what our recommendations would be, like how long that misalignment has been there. In a previous episode, we talked about birth trauma, and so if that misalignment has been there since birth, if the kid’s never been checked, and now they’re two or four or five and having chronic ear infections, it may take a little longer for them to respond, just because we’re working against time.
Kristin: That makes sense.
Dr. Rachel: So it’s better, like you said, to get them checked after birth.
Dr. Annie: Yep, prevent those things from happening, exactly.
What is birth trauma and do all babies experience it? How can you remedy it? Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness Chiropractic give us several examples of common birth traumas, what they mean, and how chiropractic care can help. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas. This is Kristin, and I’m here with my business partner, Alyssa.
Kristin: And we have Dr. Annie from Rise Wellness, as well as Dr. Rachel. Today we are talking about birth trauma with babies and how a chiropractor can help them, especially since you have a focus on newborns. So, Annie, tell us some different ways that you can help parents.
Dr. Annie: Sure. Well, first, I want to talk about what birth trauma means. It’s not necessarily that all births are categorized as traumatic births, but let’s say there is a lot of pressure on the mom and the baby while the natural birth process is happening. So even with a natural birth, there can still be some things that show up in little kiddos after. But if there is any sort of birth trauma, if Mom has to get an epidural, that can affect the baby. If there are risks of C-section, stuff like that, any of those red flags that are happening during labor, that can all lead to birth trauma, too.
Dr. Rachel: You’re probably wondering why an epidural would even effect the baby and create more of a birth trauma. What happens is when Mom gets an epidural, you can’t feel from the waist down, so we can’t feel when we’re supposed to push. So what happens is that the baby’s head puts more pressure on the cervix that you can’t feel, and it can cause some birth injury in the cervical spine. Minor, but it can still have effects later on.
Dr. Annie: Yes. And then they’re also more likely to need intervention at birth, too, so whether that’s help pulling the baby out by the head and neck or if that’s use of forceps or vacuum-assisted. And all of those put a lot of pressure on the upper cervical spine of the baby, where the neck is, and your spinal cord goes through that area. So that’s what we find in kiddos, even after a natural birth process, but especially in those instances where there’s been a lot of intervention. We see a lot of upper cervical misalignment that affects the nervous system. And so what we want is to take care of is correcting that misalignment so that they can develop the way that they’re supposed so that their bodies work. A lot of people think of brachial plexus injuries in kids, when the shoulder gets stuck and there’s traction on the brachial plexus, but if there’s enough traction there to injure those nerves in the arm, there’s enough pressure just in a natural birth that can affect the whole nervous system through the neck.
Kristin: We find with breastfeeding there can be some issues with the latch or a baby preferring one side to the other, and that could be, obviously, remedied by chiropractor care. Maybe something happened during birth where they’re just having some issues with their neck and alignment and so on.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, that’s super common. We see that. That’s one of the first signs that there could have been upper cervical misalignment is if a baby prefers one side or one breast when they’re breastfeeding or if they have latching difficulty because that all has to do with how they can turn their head, how the muscles in their face are working, what position their jaw is in. So we see that a lot, and when we do home visits, that’s often for a baby who’s head is turned to one side, and then we can correct that with a simple gentle adjustment, and then it’s amazing. They breastfeed like a champ after that.
Dr. Annie: I would say a big one, too, right now is the torticollis and the flat head. I would say that’s later; you see that later, but it probably started with favoring nursing or with latching difficulty that didn’t get corrected. They’re favoring, so they always want to turn to one side. And then they hyper-develop those muscles on that side, and then just further down the road, it becomes harder and harder to correct.
Dr. Rachel: That’s why we always say it’s good to get your babies checked.
Alyssa: Maybe that’s why I’m so lumpy on this side!
Dr. Rachel: It’s probably your parents’ fault! I blame everything on my parents!
Alyssa: I had no idea!
Dr. Rachel: It all started with the birth!
Kristin: And then, certainly, babies that are colicky or have other issues at birth can be helped by chiropractor care. That’s an easy fix?
Dr. Annie: Yeah. And we’ll say this, just so people don’t think we’re crazy. There was a study done by an MD, Gutman, and he found spinal injury present in 80% of infants examined shortly after birth.
Dr. Rachel: Out of a thousand births.
Dr. Annie: Yeah. Causing interference to neurological and immune function. So like I said, even just the natural birth process. I mean, think about it. If they’re pulling — what is it, 60 to 90 pounds of axial pressure, they say? So even a natural delivery. And just the whole process of babies going through. The uterus contracting; that’s going to cause some sort of distress on that spine.
Dr. Rachel: And we see that. I mean, we see other things, too, in kiddos who ended up C-section. Because they don’t go through the vaginal canal, they don’t get that compression, and so when they’re pulled out of the abdomen, they have a lot of those issues, too, but then their lungs aren’t cleared of fluid and stuff, so then they’re more likely to have allergies and asthma and stuff like that, too, because of those things never getting corrected.
Kristin: So can you explain to our listeners what an adjustment for a newborn is like so they can rest assured that it’s very gentle?
Dr. Rachel: Yes. So the ICPA says you’re going to use the same amount of pressure that you would use to check the ripeness of a tomato. So it is so gentle. If you push your finger on your eyelid, the amount of pressure that you can just feel — that’s how much pressure we’re using to adjust a newborn, especially.
Dr. Annie: We’re using our pinkies. There’s no instrument; there’s no twisting, cracking, popping.
Kristin: And I think that’s what people imagine is the cracking. So it’s not like that? And the fact that you do home visits is amazing, so people can come to your office here in East Town, and for certain cases with newborns, you’ll go to their homes. That’s so wonderful!
Dr. Annie: We do that with most of the moms that we’ve seen throughout their pregnancy. As soon as their baby is born, they call us up and ask us to come over to their house and check the baby, please.
Kristin: And do you also adjust the mom when you do these home visits?
Dr. Rachel: We usually do. I think almost every time. And sometimes Dad, if Dad’s home.
Dr. Annie: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s important for the whole family. Birth is stressful! It’s stressful on everybody. It’s stressful on the mom’s spinal mechanics and on her body, but emotionally stressful on both parents, too.
Dr. Rachel: And on your body. We see doulas after the birth!
Kristin: You are so helpful to me after a birth because we have some recovery, as well, especially if it’s a physical birth, or even if it’s not as physical and my client’s sleeping with an epidural and I’m trying to get rest in a waiting room and kind of shoving myself into these strange positions on a chair to sleep. I definitely recover faster and my immune system is much stronger as a result of chiropractic care, so I appreciate you both! Thank you for explaining some of the remedies for different newborn traumas they experience. How can we find you?
Dr. Annie: You can find us on our website. Or you can find us on Facebook and Instagram. Both are @risewellnesschiro. It’s probably the best way to find us and get in contact with us.
Kristin: You’re still accepting new patients, correct?
Dr. Annie: Yep!
Dr. Annie: Oh, yeah, we’ll take all the babies!
Kristin: Thank you so much for chatting with us, Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel, and we will see you next time!
Yes, you read that right! If you just raised an eyebrow with a bit of confusion, you are not alone. Most people think Chiropractic care is mostly for neck pain, back pain, and maybe headaches. For most of my patients, that’s true. However, after we resolve their pain, some amazing things start happening. Some people notice they move better, sleep better, breathe better, have less digestive issues, feel less stress, feel more focused, etc. Response to care is different for every individual, but most people find the benefits of chiropractic care beyond pain relief and into the realm of optimal function.
The reason is because Chiropractic works with the nervous system, the master control system of the body. Your brain tells every part of your body, every organ, tissue, and cell, how to function. The brain sends its messages via nerves, which run through the spine and out to the different parts of the body. When a joint in the spine is misaligned, it not only compromises the mobility of the joint and the ligaments and muscles that attach, but also the nerve that exits that part of the spine. This is called a subluxation. Subluxations are caused by the physical stress of our daily lives, be it sitting at a desk most of the day, performing athletic events, or even picking up and playing with your kiddos!
Anyone who has experienced pregnancy can attest to the physical stress and changes that their body undergoes. Growing a baby is hard work! Your body is constantly changing and adapting to create this beautiful life. For example, your body increases a hormone called Relaxin. Relaxin functions to increase things like heart function and blood flow, but also to relax the ligaments of the pelvis so the bones of the pelvis are more moveable for baby to grow and for baby to be delivered. One of the joints most commonly affected is the pubic symphysis, or pubic bone. As a result, many mothers feel discomfort in their pubic bone, not knowing this could be alleviated. Other common physical grievances of pregnancy such as sciatica and back pain can also be helped by Chiropractic care.
But what if I told you Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy has also been known to have outcomes such as easier, faster labors? A recent study by Heidi Haavik* found a correlation between chiropractic adjustments and responsiveness of the pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles that attach to the pelvis and help you to open up the birth canal and push baby out. The women who received pelvic adjustments had stronger pelvic floor muscles. Without subluxations in the pelvis, the joints of the pelvis move freely and nerves can properly stimulate muscles to function properly.
Most women who are familiar with the benefits of Chiropractic care, or have been recommended by their OB or Midwife, seek care for the optimal position of the fetus for birth. Oftentimes, women come to the Chiropractor when their baby is in a breech position in hopes that Chiropractic care can help baby get into an optimal position and allow for a vaginal birth. The Chiropractic technique used to adjust pregnant women is called the Webster Technique. The technique was founded by Dr. Larry Webster in 1976 after watching his daughter suffer through a long and difficult labor where the baby was breech. Since that time, Chiropractors have been successfully helping change the outcomes of breech positioned babies. The idea is that by removing any misalignment in the pelvis, there is proper nerve stimulation to the uterus and pelvic muscles and ligaments, allowing the baby to assume the best position for birth and the body to have the optimal movement to birth. More information about the Webster Technique, its efficacy, and how to find a Webster trained Chiropractor can be found on the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s (ICPA) website, www.icpa4kids.org.
So what can you expect when you go to a Chiropractor that is trained to care for the expectant mother? First of all, you can expect a Doctor who is ready to listen to you and help support and care for you on your journey to motherhood. We want your pregnancy and labor to be a positive and healthy experience for you and baby. Ideally, we promote wellness care and prevention so we hope to have you under care before you are pregnant and throughout your pregnancy. However, we are open to helping you whenever your journey brings you to us. The adjustment is safe and gentle, and best of all our tables accommodate for you to lie on your belly! Moms often report this opportunity as the best part of their day. In our office at Back to Health Chiropractic, you can almost always expect to see expectant Moms, babies, and little ones getting adjusted every time you come in. We look forward to meeting you and your newest addition!
In good health,
*Effect of Spinal Manipulation on Pelvic Floor Functional Changes in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women: A Preliminary Study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 39.5 (2016): 339-47. Heidi Haavik
Dr. Deme graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and moved to Dallas, Texas where she taught Physical Education and Health and coached Basketball, Volleyball, and Cross Country. While competing at the Ironman Triathlon 70.3 World Championships, Dr. Deme discovered the many benefits of Chiropractic in her personal performance. The improved health results along with her passion for natural health, led her to Parker University to study Chiropractic. Dr. Deme is Webster Certified to treat prenatal patients and is currently pursuing a specialty in Pregnancy and Pediatrics with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. Dr. Deme and her husband Chris are excited for their son, Alexi, to grow up in West Michigan.