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A Chiropractic Look at Childbirth.
Every parent looks forward to the birth of their child and hopes that mother and child will be healthy and uninjured. What many do not realize is that fetal mortality has been on the rise for the past four decades from 6.9 to 7.0 per 1,000 births. You would think with our technological advancements that this statistic would decline. The United States ranks #28 internationally for fetal mortality. Birth injuries are second only to asphyxia and atelectasis (incomplete expansion of the lungs at birth) as causes of neonatal mortality. Advanced technology may not always be the key to safer, less complicated births. Could part of the problem be an excess of medical intervention?
For most women in the United States, times of pregnancy and labor come with a barrage of technological procedures. For some, the natural process of birthing has become a fearful event; mothers are led to believe they need to rely on drugs to succeed. Medical interventions in the birth process, sometimes the difference between a normal, healthy birth and disaster, can also raise the specter of greater risk of injury as well. Some routine labor procedures (i.e. inducing labor, pain medication, restriction of movement during labor, limited motion during birth and electronic fetal monitoring) can lead to further complications.
Birth trauma/injury is possible when a newborn is pulled out of the birth canal with extreme flexion (bending) and rotation to the head. This is thought to be the most significant cause of neonatal spinal injuries and can be the result of pulling on the infants head with hands or instrumentation (forceps, vacuum...). It takes very little pressure to misalign tiny vertebra and cause subluxations (misalignments of the bone onto a nerve causing nerve stress/interference). Birth injuries can range from skull fractures, intracranial hemorrhages, suboccipital sprain/strain, brachial plexus injuries, traumatic fractures, ecchymoses or lacerations.i
Avoiding birth trauma and complications is not always possible but being educated and able to make informed decisions may drastically reduce risks. Remember this is your delivery, your baby, your birth. Make it a positive and life-changing experience for you, your partner and your new baby.
I realize not everyone wants a natural childbirth. There are three philosophical models of parents: technological, holistic, and humanistic.
Much of modern obstetrics follows the technological model. Parents accept that a body functions like a machine and that the female body is unpredictable and can malfunction at any time. Science is there to intervene and lessen the pain and anguish of childbirth. In this model, medical intervention is a normal part of the birthing process.
The second model is a holistic approach. This is the exact opposite of the technological model. In this model, the structure revolves around the family unit not the hospital. Bodies possess innate intelligence and energy fields. This model drastically restricts the need for medical intervention.
The third model, humanistic, allows parents to have a say in all decisions and choices concerning pregnancy and labor/delivery. It combines a holistic approach with the best technology has to offer. Parents surround themselves with knowledgeable people to achieve a healthy birth process. This model can birth in a hospital, home, or birth center. The key is to be educated on choices and able to make informed decisions.ii
Couples need to understand they become parents at conception. This is when it all begins; nurturing and preparing for a safe and natural childbirth. The mother needs to begin with proper nutrition and exercise. She and her partner should select a birthing team. This can be an Obstetrician or Midwife. Better educated and informed parents can help reduce the risk of childbirth complications.
The normal birthing process is thought to be a traumatic encounter for the baby. Imagine coming from a warm, tranquil, safe, dark place (the womb) to be pulled out into a room with bright lights and frightening noises. Professionals believe this experience causes an overload of sensory input to the brain and great stress for the newborn. Under normal circumstances, the newborn makes a huge adjustment in the birthing process. Anything that can lessen or at least not add to this trauma is positive for the birth.
Some parents are choosing to have a chiropractor either on their birthing team or to seek one immediately after the birth to check the infant. Although chiropractors do not practice obstetrics and do not replace an obstetrician or midwife, a chiropractor can be a valuable part of the birth team.
My column is designed for educational purposes only. The information in this and subsequent articles is not intended to replace the attention or advice of a physician and/or health care professional. Any person who wishes to pursue a course and/or prevent, treat and/or manage their or any other person's health concerns should always first consult a qualified health professional. None of the information or statements contained in this article is to be used in place of medical advice from a health professional. Nothing contained in this article is to be used in place of medical advice from a health professional. Nothing in this article is meant to imply a person should take actions toward any medical or chiropractic treatment without the consent and/or supervision of his/her doctor and/or specialist.
Staci Talan, D.C., I.D.E. has an office located in Fremont. She is a graduate of Sacramento State University where she earned a B.A. in Psychology. She continued her education at Life Chiropractic College-West in Hayward where she earned a doctorate in Chiropractic. She is a Certified Industrial Disability Evaluator and completing her provisionary status as a Natural childbirth instructor of the Bradley Method. Staci Talan, D.C., I.D.E. is an active member of the California Chiropractic Association, Centerville Business Association, Irvington Business Association and Fremont Chamber of Commerce.
1. Anrig, Claudia, D.C, Plaugher, Gregory, D.C., Pediatric Chiropractic, Williams & Wilkins, pg. 152-160.
2. Phillips, Carol D.C., Birth - What are the Philosophical Options?, I.C.P.A Newsletter Jan/Feb. 1999
i Anrig, Claudia, D.C, Plaugher, Gregory, D.C., Pediatric Chiropractic, Williams & Wilkins, pg. 152-160.
ii Phillips, Carol D.C., Birth - What are the Philosophical Options?, I.C.P.A Newsletter Jan/Feb. 1999