By Dr. Elisa Petricca
A healthy mom translates into a healthy baby. So why not do everything you can to have a safe, healthy and natural pregnancy!?
This post focuses on educating pregnant mum’s on how to prepare for the birthing process and the value of chiropractic care during pregnancy. A pregnant woman who trusts her body to do what it is naturally designed to do is much more likely to experience a healthy, natural birth than someone who is stressed and fearful. The brain responds to fearful emotions negatively during pregnancy, releasing hormones that can slow labour and dilation.
How to Prepare for Birth
Scientific research strongly suggests the following principles for a natural and healthy pregnancy and birth:
- A fully functional nervous system: This is essential to assist the body in adapting to stressors associated with pregnancy and support development to the baby.
- Proper dietary intake: This is required for optimal fetal development.
- Movement and exercise: This will encourage optimal brain and cell function, hormonal balance, strength and mobility.
- Positive thoughts and emotions.
- A nurturing environment: It is important to be surrounded by loving and supportive relationships to help minimize stress and create an optimal environment fir a relaxed birth.
- A birth support team: Comprised of loved ones and health professionals to assist in a natural birth.
The Value of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care during pregnancy is vital in supporting normal and physiological function of mom and baby. Chiropractic care can help with pregnancy and birth by:
- Reducing interference to the mother’s nervous system, allowing for optimal function.
- Helping to create balance in the pelvis, allowing for an easier birth.
- Removing tension on the ligaments that support the uterus.
- Decreasing the potential for interventions and increasing the potential for a natural birth.
How does chiropractic care support the developing infant?
- Encourages optimal infant development by removing interference from the mother’s nervous system.
- Helps to create more room in the uterus, allowing baby to move and develop without restriction. This allows the baby to move into the best possible position for birth.
- Regular adjustments greatly reduce the possibility of dystocia (delayed birth) as well as birth trauma that can be caused by intervention.
What are the main things you should take away from this whole article?
- Chiropractic provides structural balance and stability (specifically in the pelvis) for the mother, resulting in a more comfortable pregnancy.
- Research has shown that pregnant mothers who receive regular chiropractic care throughout their pregnancy generally have a shorter labour with less medical intervention.
- Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy can help to create a healthier and more comfortable in-utero environment for the infant.
It’s overwhelming caring for a new baby, particularly with so much advice about the best health practices for newborns and infants. One of the reasons we advocate for infant chiropractic is its offer of a gentle preventative care that helps at reducing and improving such a wide range of common infant health problems. Rather than offering up another trick or treatment for a specific infant health concern, chiropractic can be a smart way to support overall development and health in your baby. Here are some of the major benefits of chiropractic care for infants and children.
Optimizing the Nervous System
It’s no secret that the importance of chiropractic has much to do with the nervous system. When the nervous system isn’t in optimal condition, its communication channels break down, affecting the health of various areas of the body. The same is true for babies- as they develop, the health of their nervous systems is critical. When the nervous system isn’t able to command the body properly, that biological communication-breakdown can result in a number of symptoms that are common in babies: colic, fussiness, poor sleep habits and difficulty breastfeeding to name a few.
Alleviating Nerve Irritation
We tend to think that babies and children are free of nerve and muscle irritation, but this isn’t always the case. Sure, many lifestyle factors accounting for nerve irritation don’t affect babies (like stress, bad posture and poor ergonomics), but emotional stressors, difficult births and use of forceps during delivery can all affect an infant’s nerves too. In fact, some studies suggest that there’s potential for nerve irritation to the baby while still in the uterus, as a result of problematic movement and positioning.
Fostering Cranial and Spinal Development
Many babies experience cranial trauma during birth as well. As a result, chiropractic care in early infancy is important to gently encourage proper growth following the physical impact of birth, and to foster healthy spinal and cranial development. Another important consideration: during the first year of your child’s life, the spine is developing faster than at any other life stage, as it shapes and lengthens by 50 percent. It’s best to make sure that your child’s spine is properly aligned and prepared for this major growth spurt.
Many parents recognize early infancy as a critically important time for a child’s development. Chiropractic care can offer a gentle, effective course of treatments to best support babies’ healthy growth by both targeting specific symptoms and optimizing overall health. For more information from Dr. Jennifer Wise about chiropractic for infants and children, check out her article on TogetherMoms.ca here.
If you’re a new mother or a soon-to-be mom, you might already realize that breastfeeding can be an unpredictable journey. Many mothers and newborns face challenges with latching and effective feeding, and while these are perfectly normal, they can require the help of a counselor who has plenty of experience with breastfeeding.
When you’re tired, hormonal and experiencing more physical and emotional changes than you know what to do with, the challenges presented by breastfeeding can feel overwhelming. Sometimes mothers will have a very emotional response to breastfeeding, and the inability to get your baby to latch can feel like a personal failure.
Nothing could be further from the truth -and with the help of the right lactation consultant, you’ll have no problem remembering that.
Why consult on breastfeeding? Shouldn’t it be intuitive?
Breastfeeding feels wonderful and natural in many ways. It’s a time for a new mother to bond with her baby, to experience her femininity and maternal instincts fully, and to connect with her new identity as a mother. However, the most important outcome of breastfeeding is a healthy baby that is being nourished and gaining weight at a normal rate.
Sometimes –often in fact- some extra support is necessary to ensure that you’re optimizing feeding time for your baby. A breastfeeding consultant is not only highly helpful and instructive, but she’s also a major source of comfort if you’ve been finding the experience frustrating or disheartening. Your consultant can help you regroup and strategize effectively, while consulting on any of the following issues:
1. My baby won’t latch: If your baby doesn’t seem interested in feeding, can’t latch effectively, or doesn’t seem to be swallowing much milk, a consultant can help by introducing you to alternative breastfeeding techniques and tools.
2. Ow! Is it supposed to be this painful? While breastfeeding can initially cause some discomfort, one of your breastfeeding goals will be to eliminate pain. Your lactation consultant can offer you different latching techniques and natural remedies to help make breastfeeding more comfortable. She will also carefully analyze and help optimize your baby’s positioning and suckling.
3. I’m worried about my milk production: If you’re worried about low milk production, your consultant can advise you on how to effectively boost your supply with techniques like pumping between feedings and compressing your breasts to fully drain them of milk. Often the problem isn’t supply at all. It may be that you are producing plenty of milk- it just isn’t being effectively delivered to your baby. Getting a second opinion will better enable you to understand your supply, particularly weighed against your baby’s needs and feeding behaviours.
4. My baby isn’t gaining weight: If your baby is having trouble regaining newborn weight or is falling into a low percentile for his or her age group, it’s time to analyze and adjust feeding habits. Your lactation consultant will determine your baby’s suckling and swallowing patterns and help you to make any necessary modifications to your feeding technique and position. Sometimes babies need to be stimulated during breastfeeding, so your consultant might recommend that you alternate sides, re-position, or play with your baby’s hands or feet. This can help to keep the baby alert and suckling actively.
Building a relationship with your lactation consultant
Since your lactation consultant is meant to be a helpful and comforting presence to you, you’ll want to choose someone whose company and guidance you genuinely enjoy. Consulting on breastfeeding is an important postpartum process, and directly connected to your baby’s health and growth. Accordingly, we take breastfeeding seriously and sensitively. We’re thrilled to welcome Maria Lameiro of DoulaNatur Holistic Family Services to our team at Thrive Health as our on-site lactation consultant! Maria is a doula, lactation consultant, childbirth educator, and mother of three. She is passionate about holistic family health and loves to empower others to reach their parenting, birth, breastfeeding and lifestyle goals. She’d love to assist and support you on your breastfeeding journey.
If your toddler or baby has caught a bug, you’re probably experiencing a horrible helpless feeling. It’s upsetting seeing your little one succumb to illness of any kind, and it can also be stressful determining how to administer any sort of treatment that is completely natural and non-invasive. Further, you don’t just want to soothe your baby; you want to treat the illness. Fortunately there are a number of tricks and treatments that have proven effective at not only helping your child feel better, but also strengthening immunity to avoid future illnesses.
Here are some of the best natural medicines for treating your baby’s symptoms.
Steam: Warm, moist air can help to treat coughing, so consider putting a humidifier in your baby’s nursery. This will also soothe your baby’s throat and nose if they are dry and irritated.
Bath: A warm bath is an effective and gentle way to clear your baby’s chest and sinuses of congestion. Consider adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil into the tub, or rubbing the oil gently onto your baby’s back.
Postural drainage: If your baby has a runny nose, it’s a good idea to drain it. This will quickly help clear some of the mucous and make breathing easier. You can use a natural saline rinse, or try postural drainage. Hold your baby on your lap face up, with your hand held firmly under the neck. Angle your baby’s head down so that it is slightly lower than the chest. Tap your fingers firmly in the middle of the chest; this will gently loosen the mucous lining your baby’s lungs.
There are also a number of steps you can take to improve your child’s immunity and overall health, to prevent future illness. These include:
> Breastfeeding for as long as possible. Breast milk contains important nutrients and antibodies to keep your baby healthy.
> Washing your toddler’s hands for him or her. When children are too young to do it properly, wash their hands for them with plenty of soap and warm water.
> Strictly avoiding contact with anyone who is unwell- this includes you. If a family member is sick, keep them away from the baby not just until they feel better, but until they are completely well.
> Introducing solid foods that are rich in nutrition. Make sure that your baby gets the requisite amounts iron, vitamin C and other nutrients to promote health. To read more about introducing your baby to solids, read our blog post on the subject here.
If you are concerned about your baby’s health, or observing symptoms that make you anxious or confused, don’t hesitate to seek peace of mind by speaking with a health practitioner. It’s time to go to the doctor if:
> Your baby has a fever, especially under 3 months of age.
> Your baby is coughing up mucous that isn’t clear or white.
> Your baby is vomiting consistently.
> You notice a rash anywhere on the body or face accompanying your baby’s illness.
> Your baby or toddler is showing signs of pain.
Lastly, always make sure that you and your baby are always clothed appropriately for the wind, snow, rain, or whatever else Mother Nature is throwing our way. For more on this topic, check out our post “Dressing an Infant for Winter Weather.”
A recent blog post from ‘An Avocado A Day’ provided a useful starting point for when and how to introduce your baby to solid foods. We liked the author’s mention of how surprisingly emotional the experience of weaning and starting solids was.
A lot of people don’t acknowledge that this can be a sentimental and sometimes emotionally difficult time for moms. Breastfeeding creates a unique bond between mother and child, and while the introduction of solid foods doesn’t mean an end to breastfeeding, it’s an important step in your baby’s development: one that should be treated with care.
Moms who are ready to start introducing solids will benefit from detailed research, a consultation with a doctor or dietician, or joining a group workshop, like the one we hosted in September.
It’s always a good idea to find intelligent articles online however, as a means of doing your preliminary research. This one included some helpful tips that mothers may not be aware of.
Iron is important: When your baby reaches 6 months, you may not realize that her need for iron increases. Start with:
- Root vegetables: sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and beets
- Fruit: pear, avocado and ripe banana
Food sensitivities have many symptoms: Pick one food at a time every four days, and keep an eye out for reactions. This doesn’t necessarily just mean the ready associations we might have with food allergies, like hives or trouble breathing. Look for altered behaviours, shifts in sleep patterns, visible symptoms like rashes or dark circles under the eyes, and changes in bowel movements.
Be patient: Don’t be upset if your baby’s first reaction is to play with her food or throw it right on the floor. Like breast-feeding, this is a way to bond with your child and prepare them for the many meals you’ll share together. Have fun!
Like adults, babies have individual digestive systems. That means that what works for one baby might not be ideal for another. If you haven’t yet consulted with a trusted source, book an appointment for a naturopathic consultation. It’s an easy way to put your mind at ease and gain some valuable insights into food introduction that are accurately and insightfully tailored for your baby’s individual digestive system. Remember that if it’s a stressful process for Mom, it’s going to be stressful for Baby.
If solid foods are on the horizon for you and your baby, keep an eye out on the Thrive Health events page. We typically host food introduction workshops every few months.
With the right approach, introducing solids is an exciting developmental phase as your baby grows. It’s neat to discover what your child likes and dislikes, and you’ll find that new forms of bonding and routine come from sharing meals together face-to-face.
Many mothers know that colic can be a new-parent nightmare. Not only does the condition create a fussier baby, but it also stresses and worries parents who don’t know what to do to relieve their infant. Colic can make anyone feel completely overwhelmed and helpless.
Ditch the guilt
Jen Singer’s article “5 Ways to Get Through Colic” has some effective pointers to keep you sane during this challenging time in your life as a new parent. First, she reminds us, give yourself credit. Colic isn’t personal. Aligning your child’s health problems with a personal sense of worth is a dangerous mistake that can lead to shame, doubt and self-deprecation. The simple truth? Colic is common and has nothing to do with what kind of caregiver you are. How you deal with it however, most certainly does! So make an effective plan to help your baby and to help yourself.
Turn to family and friends
Singer recommends turning to other parents who have experience with colic. This is a good idea for many parenting issues: find families in the same boat as you. They can offer you support and advice, or at least some commiseration. Otherwise you may feel as though nobody understands what you’re going through.
She also suggests enlisting the help of family if you’re uncertain about the source of your baby’s crying, or wondering if you’re making things worse in your mind. Leave your child with someone you trust and see if the same symptoms and patterns manifest themselves. This is a good diagnostic strategy.
Speaking of making diagnoses: be careful when you’re trying to assess your baby’s triggers. You can drive yourself crazy wondering if something you’re doing is worsening or encouraging the colic. Singer is right to tell you not to bother questioning everything- even researchers and medical professionals disagree on the source of colic. You’re better off putting your faith in methods of relieving discomfort. You can experiment with treatments and see which ones work best for your baby.
This too shall pass!
Let it out!
Finally, the article emphasizes how important it is to acknowledge anger and frustration. These are perfectly normal emotions and you’ll do much better to address them than to deny or ignore them. Being a new parent is hard work; you’ve already undergone massive changes and upheaval and you’re totally entitled to want to yell or cry! When you feel overwhelmed, call someone you trust and take a much needed break. This gives you a chance to work through your emotions and have a proper time-out. Emotions are never a sign of weakness; they are a sign of humanity.
You might also consider talking to a therapist to discuss some of the emotional overload you have experienced as a new mother with a fussy baby. That hour will give you a break and a chance to speak with another adult who is familiar with what you’re going through.
(you knew it was coming)
…how about alternative health therapies to combat colic? Infant massage has been a highly effective method for coping with babies’ discomfort and helping to facilitate the digestive process. Take a workshop and discover how you may be able to sooth your baby through massage. This is also a great practice for de-stressing, connecting and bonding.
Chiropractic has been shown to provide relief to infants with colic, since adjustments remove stress on the nervous system. When there is stress on a child’s nervous system, they can be difficult to soothe, as they have trouble with sleeping and digestion which causes discomfort. Seeing your family chiropractor to have your baby checked for nervous system stress is a gentle and very effective first-line strategy to help your child’s body heal from the inside out.
You’ll also want to watch your baby’s symptoms and consult with a physician to determine whether you’re dealing with colic or a different health issue like intolerances and allergies. If your baby has general digestive distress, many forms of health counselling may help. Consider talking to a nutrition specialist to see if gentle supplementation can be used to help your baby during the breastfeeding or formula stage. You may be unknowingly eating an aggravating food that is affecting your infant. Tailoring your diet, switching formulas or making a personalized diet plan for when you start solids. Your practitioner will also help you try changing other feeding practices like pace, intervals, and burping breaks.
To all you moms out there: did you have to battle colic?