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Starting Strong

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The Growing Role of Chiropractic in Childbirth Education

Sarah Clark • October 5, 2016


There  are few things harder for a childbirth educator to watch than a couple  who tried desperately to achieve a natural birth have it slip through  their fingers. How do well-prepared people sometimes end up with a birth  very different than the one they planned?


There  are many answers to that question, but one that I and many other  childbirth educators have seen play out over and over again goes  something like this: The mother works hard during her pregnancy,  reading, exercising, eating well, learning to relax and understand the  labor process. Ideally, her partner works right alongside her in this  journey and they grow closer together as they anticipate the birth of  their precious baby.

The long-anticipated  labor finally begins! Mom starts laboring. But the contractions are  harder than she anticipated. She feels them in her back and the  contractions are irregular. Some last more than a minute, others for  just a few seconds.


After laboring for hours  on their own, the couple heads to their birth place. Mom is not very  dilated despite hours and hours of what felt like hard labor. Mom is  getting tired. The pain in her back keeps intensifying and nothing seems  to help. Eventually the exhaustion and pain cause Mom and Dad to opt  for pain relief via an epidural. The epidural is placed and Mom is  confined to her bed. The labor goes on. The baby won’t descend. Heart  tones become non-reassuring. Mom is often diagnosed as either failure to  progress or with cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD).


After hours of work and extreme fatigue, the baby is born via cesarean section.

The parents are glad for a healthy baby but are confused and wondering why their birth didn’t turn out the way they had planned.


What  causes a labor to proceed in such a manner? The answer, often, is as  simple as positioning. As anybody intimately acquainted with labor and  birth knows, the baby’s position can be just as important as the  mother’s. Yet sometimes all the education, preparation and exercise in  the world will not ensure a properly positioned baby if the mother is  not receiving good chiropractic care.


Chiropractic is often the missing link when it comes to natural birth preparation.

As  a childbirth instructor, I taught for some time before I realized the  importance of chiropractic as a key ingredient—an ingredient which is  frequently left out of good childbirth classes. But finally it seems as  though the wisdom of whole-body healthcare and the necessity of a  balanced spine and pelvis in healthy birth is becoming accepted for what  it is: an integral part of birth preparation.


I  love chiropractic and teach it in my classes. (I am even married to a  chiropractor!) But I wanted to share more than just my experience with  you today. I have collected many testimonials from women with varied  stories. Listen to what they have to say about the benefits of  chiropractic care in pregnancy, labor and birth.


The Chiropractor’s Role

Often  the realization of the importance of chiropractic comes when we see the  difference it makes in our own pregnancy in reducing pain and  increasing comfort.  Countless women share stories like these:


“Five  months into my third pregnancy I experienced back pain so severe that I  had to go to the ER. The doctors shrugged their shoulders and told me  to rest. The spasms made walking impossible. The pain was beyond  anything I had experienced, and I had given birth twice! Pain medication  was not an option. My mom had me call our family chiropractor, Ken  Oikawa, first thing the next day. In two weeks I had no pain and a much  better understanding of how to take care of my back in pregnancy.” — Cori Gentry, Salinas, CA


For  Cori, chiropractic care helped her have a more enjoyable and healthy  pregnancy. Of course, chiropractic can do so much more during pregnancy  than eliminate unnecessary pain. It can also have a deep and lasting  impact on the emotional health of the woman. A pregnant woman who is in  excruciating pain or overwhelmed with fears regarding her body’s ability  to function is not just experiencing physical symptoms; she is  experiencing emotional stress as well. Those who understand the impact  of the mind-body connection know that this is no laughing matter.  This woman’s story is a testament to that:


“There  are so many things that chiropractic care can help with or outright  fix. I had an SI sprain that caused me to limp around like a sad whale  in the last trimester. My chiropractor soon set me on the path to  recovery, and was able to tell me why it happened and how to prevent  further injury. A good chiropractor understands the body as a whole in a  more intimate way than most medical doctors who specialize or focus on  illness. The multitude of changes in your body cause stress, no matter  how stress-free your life. Chiropractic care helps regulate and calm the  stresses of pregnancy. A chiropractor friend of mine says if you’re  going to be adjusted twice in your life, it should be right before and  shortly after you give birth. I would add that chiropractic care along  the way helps prevent problems and added body stress in pregnancy.” —Lauren McClain, Bowie, MD


Think  what a difference would be made in maternity care if every pregnant  woman simply enjoyed her pregnancy more because of chiropractic care.  Shazia, a first-time mom who had the natural birth she had prepared for,  credits her skilled chiropractor for more than just pain relief, but  for a fabulous labor as well.


“Before  I started seeing my chiropractor, Dr. Kristen, I could barely walk and  was in so much pain. By the end of my pregnancy, not only could I walk  pain-free, but I felt amazing! In addition, I know that routine  chiropractic care contributed to my fast, complication-free labor. I  can’t imagine going through pregnancy and birth without chiropractic  care. One of the best things I received from my childbirth educator was  the referral to an amazing chiropractor!” —Shazia Lackey, Dallas, TX


Of  course, chiropractic care can help eliminate pain, but another thing  that you quickly realize when working with birthing women is that  chiropractic can help labor to simply proceed normally. A labor that  stops and starts or just won’t get going can be caused by a subluxated  mother and a baby that can’t get into an optimal position because of it.  Megan’s story is a great example of this:


“I  have seen chiropractors all my life, so when I got pregnant, naturally I  continued care. Despite that, I still had pain for seven months until I  switched to a Webster-certified chiropractor. My tailbone was jutting  into my birth canal. My new chiropractor fixed this seven-month-long  problem in two visits. She also stimulated a two week long prodromal  labor into active labor and adjusted me in labor. I am absolutely  certain I would have had a C-section for obstructed birth and baby  malposition if not for her.” —Meghan Hughes, Fort Worth, TX


Regular  chiropractic care should be an integral part of maternity care for  every pregnant woman to improve both physical and emotional health.


Special Situations

Chiropractic  is valuable for every pregnant woman, but for women with unique  situations such as malpositioned babies or previous cesarean section,  chiropractic can mean the difference between a vaginal and a surgical  birth. A true gift that some particularly dedicated chiropractors give  their patients is the option of receiving a chiropractic adjustment  while they are in labor. This is something that many teachers encourage  their students to look for in a chiropractor because it can be so  beneficial. Jen says:


“My  opinion on chiropractic care during pregnancy is that it is essential.  You wouldn’t drive a car if it was out of alignment, so why would you  prepare for birth that way? I would attribute how smooth my labor and  delivery was to the chiropractic care I received during my pregnancy and  labor. Thanks again to Dr. Dodge for coming to our house while I was in  labor! My daughter’s head was tilted inside and it was slowing down my  labor; he adjusted me and we headed to the birth center. Korie arrived  soon after.” —Jenn Lovett, Irving, TX


While  the importance of chiropractic for every pregnant woman is starting to  be appreciated, others, especially midwives, have long realized that  chiropractic has a particular place of importance in encouraging a  breech baby to turn. I asked Lauren McClain to talk about this. As a  woman who had a cesarean section for a footling breech baby and as  founder of MyBreechBaby.org, she is passionate about both breech birth  options and ways to avoid breech, when possible.


“These  problems [subluxation] can cause misalignment of the uterine area that  can encourage a baby to be malpositioned,” says McClain. “The most  extreme of these is breech presentation, where the baby is butt- or  feet-down. Luckily, chiropractic care by an experienced doctor can also  help a good majority of butt-down babies turn head-down through the  Webster technique. This technique is both safe and powerful. Everything  in your body is connected, and in pregnancy that includes your baby.  Your body most definitely affects your baby’s body. So get your body in  line!”


In a typical hospital situation, a woman with a breech baby is given only one choice: C-section.


The  prevalence of cesarean section in the current obstetric climate has  become so widespread that it has gained the attention of national news  syndicates and has even garnered a statement from the American Congress  of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). In 2010, ACOG issued  less-restrictive policies for women seeking a vaginal birth following a  cesarean, but most women still find great difficulty in attaining the  birth they desire. As an educator, I know that a woman attempting a  vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) in a pro-cesarean environment will  require extra care and effort. The following woman had a natural birth  after two cesareans and reveals how chiropractic helped make her VBAC a  reality.


“As  a VBA2C mom, there are so many things that can rise against you. I saw  my chiropractor throughout my pregnancy, and my persistently acynclitic  daughter’s position was corrected. After some prodromal labor, I left  the chiropractor’s office and had my baby two and a half hours later. It  was great that with all I faced, my stress was reduced, due to my  chiropractor’s role in my life. As an instructor, I love to explain the  benefits to moms who are dealing with pressure and pain. When a woman  puts so much effort into a wonderful birth, chiropractic is one more  amazing tool in your birth box!” —Tara Quinn, Alvarado, TX


As  an educator, there are few things as triumphant as a woman having a  healthy, natural birth when the odds are against her. We must give women  the knowledge and care they need so they are well-armed for any birth  that comes their way.


Chiropractic and Childbirth Education

It  seems obvious that a skilled chiropractor can have a phenomenal impact  on pregnancy, labor and birth. Despite this fact, few childbirth  educators are talking about chiropractic as a way to ensure a better  birth. This, however, is starting to change. I asked Donna Ryan, founder  and president of Birth Boot Camp, why she included chiropractic in  every 10-week series she and her instructors teach. Her answer is  powerful.


“I have seen, literally, dozens of  women helped by Webster-certified chiropractors during their pregnancies  and labors,” says Ryan. “I have worked as a childbirth educator since  2003, but it wasn’t until I met Kristen Hosaka, D.C., a  Webster-certified chiropractor, in 2009, that I really learned about the  benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy, labor and the  postpartum period. She has been a regular guest speaker in my childbirth  classes ever since! My couples are having more comfortable pregnancies,  babies in better positions, and good birth experiences.”


Donna  had seen how chiropractic improved the births of hundreds of her  students. As she developed her own natural childbirth education  curriculum, she included chiropractors as an important part of the birth  team. 


“When I was writing the Birth Boot Camp curriculum, there was  never any doubt that chiropractic would be a part of the program,” she  says. “When we refer to the birth team, it encompasses the midwife,  doula and chiropractor! Couples who take the classes online have the  privilege of hearing from Dr. Hosaka and witness her adjusting a  pregnant woman. Couples that take live classes will often have the  opportunity to hear from a Webster-certified chiropractor when he or she  visits as a guest speaker.”


Getting the  chance to meet, talk with, and watch a skilled chiropractor work is a  powerful part of Birth Boot Camp classes. Many pregnant women fear  chiropractic, especially during pregnancy. Meeting with a doctor of  chiropractic and seeing him or her in action is a powerful teaching  technique and is part of the reason the students feel so comfortable  seeking chiropractic care. Claire Dodge, another Birth Boot Camp  instructor, has also noticed the positive change that chiropractic can  bring to her students’ births, both physically and emotionally.


“Chiropractic  care throughout pregnancy, by a skilled doctor trained in Webster  technique, makes a world of difference in a woman’s experience of  pregnancy and birth,” says Dodge. “The common aches and pains of  pregnancy are resolved, and the baby is typically able to choose an  optimal position for birth. The families in my classes who chose to  incorporate chiropractic care into their prenatal care have visibly  happier, healthier pregnancies. Evidence has shown that women under  chiropractic care report easier births, shorter labor times, and lower  rates of interventions. I am always happy for families that chose to add  in chiropractic care, because it often significantly impacts their  pregnancy and birth experience for the better.”


When  you work with pregnant women who desire a natural birth, you will  quickly come to understand the importance of chiropractic in achieving  their goals. With all the other information and knowledge we share with  birthing women, it makes sense to include the role of chiropractic as an  aid in optimal birth.


Those who care for  birthing women don’t just want them to survive the birth process. We  want women and families to have a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy. We  want these families to have a glorious and triumphant birth. We want  birth to be experienced as it is meant to be: full of joy and power.  Chiropractic is an essential part of not just birth, but childbirth  education, and it has the ability to change birth as we know it.


This article originally appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness Magazine, Issue #41. 


Safeguarding Development

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Attention Disorders in Children Trace Back to The Spine

Treatment  for children with attention and processing disorders often falls to  oral medications, which can lead to lifelong chemical dependency. In  order to avoid this and to provide children the best opportunity to  fully recover, it’s important to address the spine and nervous system.  


Research shows that children with attention and learning disorders often  experience problems within the brain and nervous system, which contains  a link back to the spine. Chiropractic for children can help improve  the function of the brain and central nervous system.

  • More than 10 million children suffer from attention and learning problems
  • Pharmaceutical drugs can change behavior, but don’t address the cause
  • There’s more than one cause of attention and learning disorders
  • Each condition shares a common factor – the source traces back to the brain

Chiropractic for Children with Attention Disorders

With  every chiropractic adjustment, the “central computer” of the body  resets. Research published in 2014 cites a direct link between the  influence of the parasympathetic nervous system and improvements of  children with ADHD. Chiropractic for children increases the influence  with every adjustment. This results in improvements in attention span,  learning, processing and behavior. Children can experience improved  central nervous system function through better spinal health.


Chiropractors  help optimize central nervous system function, which uniquely benefits  children with learning and attention disorders including ADHD, autism  and sensory processing disorder. Choosing neurological-based  chiropractic for children over the cycle of harmful drugs that don’t  heal their bodies has delivered scientifically proven results.  


Chiropractic for children helps establish a fully functioning central  nervous system, which supports their ability to learn and process.

Maximizing Your Prime

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Chiropractors Play a Big Role in Athletic Performance

Chiropractic  is common in sports medicine and many trainers will encourage it  before, during, and after any physical performance. Let's take a look at  a few examples of how chiropractic has benefited the sports world.


1. Solid Body Maintenance in Professional Football

It's  no secret that professional football is a beast of a game and injuries  are frequent. Even if football players avoid serious injury, it's a sure  bet that stiffness and soreness are just par for the course. In a 2002  survey, 31% of football teams in the National Football League reported having a chiropractor on staff. Athletes reported using chiropractic care quite frequently, noting its effectiveness. 


2. Improved Mobility in College Football

Osteopathic  manipulative treatment, or OMT, is one of the main forms of  chiropractic therapy used in sports medicine. OMT promotes flexibility  and pain-free movement. Football players often rely on OMT as a  preventative measure against injuries. A 2012 Virginia Tech study showed  that OMT positively impacted sports performance in both their offensive  and defensive football players. Most football players also reported a  self-assessed improvement in athletic performance after OMT sessions. 


3. Helpful for Hockey Injuries

Like  football, ice hockey is a full-contact sport and injuries are common.  Chiropractic has been shown to reduce painful symptoms of recurrent  shoulder instability related to hockey injuries. 


4. Relief for Sports Hernia

5-25% of all sports injuries involve groin pain.  However, it's not always the result of a line drive baseball. A sports  hernia is one of the most common causes of groin pain in athletes. A  study showed that soccer players who experienced sports hernia were  relieved of discomfort following 8 weeks of a combination of  chiropractic care and rehabilitation exercises. 


5. Increased Strength in Martial Arts

Although  mainly used for alleviating muscular and skeletal complaints, it seems  that chiropractic can also promote physical strength. In one study,  national level judo athletes showed a 16% improvement in grip strength after undergoing only three chiropractic sessions. 


6. Support for All Olympic Athletes

For  years, chiropractors have worked with world-class Olympic athletes to  improve their strength, endurance, and range of motion while training.  Olympic athletes also receive chiropractic care at the games. One  particular set of games often overlooked at the Olympics is the  Paralympics. 


7. Soothes Tennis Elbow

A whopping 50% of tennis players can expect to get tennis elbowduring  their lifetime, and 33% of tennis players will experience it in severe  fashion. Specific joint manipulation performed by a chiropractor has  shown to be effective for relieving discomfort and redness, promoting  healing, rehabilitating the injured arm, and avoiding recurrence.  


8. Keeps Baseball Players Swinging

Baseball  is a game that demands quick bursts of energy. Whether it's running the  bases or swinging the bat, these fast-moving activities often come with  rotator cuff injuries, neck pain, back strains, and hamstring pulls.  Studies have shown that chiropractic helps prevent hamstring and other  lower limb injuries in baseball players. Another study revealed that  muscle strength and long jump distance was greatly improved in baseball  players who received regular chiropractic adjustments.

Aging Actively

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Study Reports Exercise Benefits for Elderly Women

Elderly  women who start exercising regularly may be able to reduce their risk  of falls that result in broken bones or other serious injuries, a small  study suggests.


Previous research has proven  that exercises improve balance and muscle strength. Saija Karinkanta, a  scientist at the UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research in Tampere,  Finland and lead study author has said that ongoing fitness regimes can  also protect against falls and injuries and his current study suggests  that the benefit may last even after intensive physical activity stops,  “It is useful to train a little bit harder and intensively so that your  physical functioning really improves,” Karinkanta said by email. “After  that, you can maintain the benefits with lighter, less intensive  exercise.”


Each year, one in three adults  over age 65 experience a fall, the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal  injuries among the elderly, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention.


For older women, this  risk of fall-related injuries is compounded by a condition known as  osteoporosis, or thinning bones, which occurs when production of the  hormone estrogen declines after menopause.


To  see if exercise could reduce the injury risk for women, Karinkanta and  colleagues randomly assigned 149 study participants  a combination of  resistance training, balance exercises, workouts combining both  elements, or no exercise at all.


At the start  of the study, the women were 70 to 78 years old and living at home.  Most of them were sedentary or did moderate exercise no more than twice a  week but had no signs of osteoporosis or medical conditions that would  make more intense workouts dangerous. Women assigned to the three  exercise groups did six weeks of moderate activity before scaling up to  more intense supervised workouts. Balance exercises included jumping,  while strength training was designed to bolster muscle and bone. 


After five years the study found:

  • Participants who exercised were 62% less likely to be injured in falls than peers who didn’t exercise
  • 50% of the women assigned no exercise experienced at least one fall  and 61 of the women had a total of 81 fall-related injuries. 
  • Participants who did combined balance and strength training had a 51%  lower risk of fall-related injuries and were 74% less likely to  experience fractures.
  • Doing only balance workouts, or just strength training, didn’t appear to reduce the risk of injuries or fractures.

In  the journal Age and Ageing, researchers acknowledge the study only  reviewed data on falls women reported to healthcare providers, and that  it’s possible some falls or injuries might have been missed.


Dr.  Elizabeth Joy, medical director for clinical outcomes research at  Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, points out in email that the  findings add to a growing body of research demonstrating that exercise  can make falls less likely and less dangerous. “The trouble with  exercise is too few older people do it”, said Joy. She went on to say  that “only around one in 10 adults over age 65 get enough physical  activity. Older adults are also susceptible to a condition known as  sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass, which leads to diminished strength  and endurance. 


This, combined with age-related hearing or vision loss,  can make falls more likely. Resistance training increases muscle mass,  improving strength, endurance and power, which in turn, can make  injuries from falls less likely, she said. Even low-impact workouts like  walking and Tai Chi can help. You are never too old to start” Joy said. – Reuters