We hear from a lot of people asking why a child or infant would need to be adjusted. Simple response- Their bodies are subject to small traumas as well and they have a developing nervous system that needs to have a clear communication to all parts of the body.
Before moving on I would like to clarify how an adjustment on a baby is performed. Many people start to imagine a baby being adjusted the same way as an adult with the fast “twisting” and “popping” and they really worry about their baby’s fragile neck being treated the same way. THAT ISNOT HOW WE ADJUST BABIES! With babies there is not any twisting or quick rotations of any part of their body.
Babies are adjusted with a very gentle and specific pressure- about the same amount of pressure that is used to push on a fully ripe tomato without causing an indentation, in other words not much pressure at all. Doctor Shaw has had many hours of post graduate education as he works on certification with the ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association), for more info and research go to www.icpa4kids.org. This certification focuses on the proper way to adjust a child and Dr. Shaw is very comfortable working with children.
As far as traumas in children they are many and varied. The easiest to talk about are all the slips and falls especially as the child is learning to walk. They spend a lot of time falling on their backsides and can jam up their sacrum/pelvis (the nerves from these areas control the bladder among other things- bed-wetters anyone?). As they grow, most kids tend to hit their heads on various objects and they are also very very active running around, learning and playing sports, riding and falling of their bikes/scooters/skates/skateboards, etc. Traumas happen all of the time in children, how their bodies are able to cope with those traumas is the question.
If they are unable to cope then it is important to get them checked out so that it doesn’t become a major problem for them in the future.
WHY DO BABIES NEED TO BE CHECKED?
You may ask, why would brand new babies need to be checked? What kind of trauma could they have possibly experienced already?
Lets start with a “normal” hospital delivery with no history of problems throughout the pregnancy and the baby is in the proper head down position (ideal conditions). When the mother goes into labor and contractions start, the crown of the baby’s head is being used to thin out the cervix wall allowing for birth. When it is finally time for the baby to be born the baby starts to come out and the person delivering the baby generally tries to “help the baby” get the shoulders and rest of the body out by pulling on the neck of the baby. It only takes 5 lbs of pressure to start to damage the spinal cord of a newborn! So, going from the contractions putting increasing pressure on the head and neck and then using that same neck to traction the baby out, these are the traumas that can occur in a “normal” birth.
So what about the traumas during a birth with other interventions? Many times during labor in the hospital they will claim that the labor is “not progressing fast enough” and they decide they want to “help” by starting the mother on a labor inducing medication like pitocin. The problem with pitocin, is that instead of the contractions coming on gradually, building up, and taking some time at the peak before coming back down gradually, the contractions become very hard and get to full strength, holding there for a little time and then dropping off almost immediately. Then, the pain becomes so unbearable that the mother will almost always opt for the pain medications which then slow down the contractions. This can then create a cycle or a balancing act trying to keep the labor going but helping the mother with her pain levels. Many times this path leads to an unplanned c-section because the mother still doesn’t progress and is now in more pain. Meanwhile, what is happening with the baby? These hard induced contractions have turned into very quick hard compression's on the baby’s head, neck, and spine. It has been compared to using the babies head as a “battering ram” to try and force dilation and delivery faster than nature intends.
Of course then there are always c-sections that take away the contractions of the uterus and the baby now needs to be pushed out from the top by a nurse while the doctor pulls on the baby to help with delivery. Minor to major traumas can occur in the baby. And then that leaves vacuum extraction or the forceps. These are used when the baby is “stuck” and are applied to the head to help pull the baby out. Obvious trauma to the spine can result. Note: there are less chances of the baby becoming stuck if the mother is allowed to deliver in the squatting position or on all fours and if her pelvis is able to move freely without restrictions.
The same traumas and sometimes more can result if the baby is breech but we will leave the examples as is.
It is the opinion of our clinic that every newborn should at least be checked by a chiropractor. ESPECIALLY if the baby came by C-section or if forceps or vacuum extraction had to be used. Definitely get the baby in if symptoms are showing. These symptoms include but are not limited to: stargazing (the child is always looking up), only looking to one side/not rotating the head, latching difficulties, colic, and many others. If the baby is checked and there are not any restrictions found then the baby will not be adjusted.