OPTIMAL POSITIONING: BALANCING THE PELVIS FOR A SAFER, EASIER BIRTH

AUTHOR // Jeanne Ohm, D.C.

Labels: ChiropracticHolistic HealthcarePregnancy & BirthWellness LifestyleAuthor Jeanne Ohm, DCIssue #53

In preparing for a natural birth, we recognize two things: the mother’s autonomy in childbirth and the supremacy of normal physiology. A mother-tobe has many resources to draw from in preparation for birth, the greatest being her own innate capacities. Learning about how the body is designed to give birth can lend tremendous understanding and support for the whole birthing process. The words “optimal positioning” signify that the mother and baby have aligned in a way that is complementary for a natural, empowered birth. 

The most desirable position for the baby in birth is when the baby’s head is down, with the back of the head (occiput) and spine facing the mother’s front left side. During birth, from the mother’s superior view, the baby’s body rotates clockwise, aligning the occiput with the mother’s symphysis pubis. Then the baby’s head emerges. Once the head is out, the shoulders continue to rotate in that same clockwise motion so they, too, can fit through the mother’s pelvis. 

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Appearing in Issue #53. Order A Copy Today

If the baby’s occiput is facing the mother’s right side, in order for the head to get into the most desirable position, the baby must do a “long turn” in the clockwise direction within the mother’s entire pelvis to arrive at her symphysis pubis. Frequently, the baby will stall with his occiput up against the mother’s sacrum. This is called an occiput posterior presentation. It may lead to a longer and more difficult labor and delivery, or even to interventions that prevent a natural birth from happening. 

Babies move freely throughout pregnancy. Between 35–37 weeks, they settle into what usually becomes their position for birth. Obstetricians perform an ultrasound at 37 weeks, but how can a mother determine her baby’s position earlier? And what about mothers who choose not to have ultrasound? One way to learn your baby’s position is with belly mapping. You can read about belly mapping on page 56 in this issue of Pathways. 

But the biggest question is, why do babies choose a less than optimal position to begin with? Many mothers are not aware that their pelvic balance throughout pregnancy affects their baby’s position in birth. Increasing your awareness of your posture and movement will support your baby’s ability to find his optimal position for a safe and natural birth. 


Structure Determines Function 

Malpositioning in labor may occur partly because of the modern, sedentary lifestyles that thwart optimal positioning during pregnancy. Especially while seated, we often compromise our spinal alignment and optimal positioning. Easy chairs, couches and car seats force us into a slouch position. Even when sitting in straight-backed chairs, we can find ourselves slouching, compromising our pelvic balance. Slouching misaligns the pelvis in such a way that it makes it more comfortable for the baby to turn posterior or breech. 

If, instead, you sit with your pelvis tilted forward, your lower spine curves forward. Your pelvis will be open and the baby can choose the most ideal position for birth. 

Be conscious of your posture as often as possible, especially when you are sitting. Sit with your hips rocked forward and your knees always lower than your hips. Cease slouching, leg-crossing, or sitting on your legs. Sitting toward the front edge of your chair will help overcome negative sitting habits. Wellinflated birth balls and the Swedish kneeling chairs make it easy to keep your knees lower than your pelvis. 

When taking long car rides or when sitting at work, take breaks often and move your body. Spend time throughout the day moving your hips in a figure-eight-type motion. You can use the back of a chair to lean on to do this movement. This keeps the joints in your pelvis flexible and better able to maintain a balanced state. These positions also lean the uterus forward and encourage the baby to settle into the anterior position, an ideal position for birth. 

Another beneficial movement is pelvic rocks. To start, get on all fours and arch your spine. This strengthens and tones your lower back muscles. Then allow your spine to arch forward. This motion opens up the pelvis, relaxes the uterus and gives ample room for the baby to move. Also, you can exercise by crawling on the floor to optimize positioning. 

If you have an occupation that is restrictive to movement or has you maintaining a one-sided posture for long periods of time, it is important that you aim to change postures regularly so you can support pelvic balance. For example, chiropractors and massage therapists may spend their entire day on one side of their table. In this case, maintain pelvic balance by adopting alternate stances.

If you are frequently holding an older child during pregnancy, and you elevate your hip for added support, know that this repetitive torque to your pelvis can cause structural imbalances that may adversely affect your baby’s positioning in utero. This was the case for me when I was pregnant with my sixth baby. Having held my fifth child on my left side consistently, my baby was led into a posterior occipital presentation for labor. 

It might seem inconvenient to balance out your daily positions, but your awareness and effort to do so throughout pregnancy can make a significant difference in your birth experience. 


Longstanding Imbalances 

Previous physical trauma may cause issues in optimal positioning as well. Can you recall falling, tripping, or being in a car accident? Maybe a sport you played, such as hockey or lacrosse, had you repeat a one-sided, twisting motion? These traumas, regardless of how long ago they happened, may have affected your spinal alignment, and therefore your pelvic balance may be compromised for birth. 

When the pelvis is out of alignment there is often tension in the attached ligaments. Because these ligaments also attach to the uterus, an uneven pulling can cause the uterus to rotate, making it difficult for the baby to assume his ideal position. 

Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy is a safe and effective way to balance pelvic misalignments. Doctors who are certified in the Webster technique use gentle and specific adjustments to realign the pelvis and restore function to the nerves, muscles, and ligaments associated with pregnancy and birth. 


Movement 

Restrictive and repetitive movements and postures, along with old injuries in our spine and pelvis, create further restrictions in our joints. These restrictions affect muscle, ligament, and nerve function. In pregnancy and birth, we want the joints in the pelvis to open and move. We want the muscles, ligaments and nerves to be working for maximum strength and optimal function. Movement throughout pregnancy is essential. Certain movements during pregnancy support joint mobility and at the same time help establish optimal positioning. 

Pelvic rocking. Get on all fours, arch the back up and down. If the baby has settled into a less than ideal position, pelvic rocking can provide the motion and space for a baby to move. 

Figure eight. Lean against the back of a chair, and while you are leaning forward, gently and evenly move your pelvis in a figure-eight-type rotation to keep your pelvic joints uniformly balanced. 

Hip shimmy. As you lean forward (over a birth ball or a chair, or on all fours), your birth assistant holds each side of your hips and rocks them back and forth. In this way, the baby responds to the movement as your hip joints mobilize. The combined support and motion to the hips feels great! 

Belly sifting. Get on all fours. Have a partner wrap a scarf or shawl under your belly, then pull up and gently jiggle right and left. 

Pelvic sifting. Lie on your back. Have a partner put the scarf under your pelvis and, while lifting, jiggle your hips. Depending on the baby’s position this ancient technique helps encourage baby movement. 


Dystocia

There are three causes of dystocia in birth, per the Williams Obstetrics textbook. The first relates to the power of the uterus and its ability to function as designed. The uterine muscle needs proper nerve supply in order to function correctly. Pelvic imbalance puts undue stress on uterine nerves and ligaments, affecting their optimal function.

The second cause of dystocia relates to the passageway, or the alignment of the mother’s pelvis. If the pelvic bones are not balanced correctly, it will be more diffic ult for the baby to move through the pelvis.

The third cause of dystocia relates to the passenger, or the baby’s movement through the mother’s pelvis and birth canal. Again, pelvic misalignments put undue tension on
uterine muscles and ligaments, which in turn pull on the uterus and impair the baby’s ability to optimize its position and movement.

Preliminary clinical studies indicate that regular chiropractic care throughout pregnancy may, in fact, address these three causes of dystocia.

 

Movement During Labor 

Even if the baby is in an optimal position at the onset of labor, new positions may arise. If these new fetal positions slow labor down or even stall labor (a condition called dystocia), unnecessary interventions may ensue. 

Movement is key in all labors, and all mothers should be encouraged to get into any positions that they feel are necessary. During my sixth labor, it became apparent that my baby was in the occiput posterior position.

This was likely due to carrying my fifth son exclusively on my left hip during pregnancy. By the end of labor I experienced very intense back pain and became exhausted. Although I do not usually choose to lay down for birth, that little voice inside of me prompted me to go to my bed. Giving in, I laid down on my left side and drew my right knee upwards. No sooner than I had done this my baby did a 180 degree rotation, moving from occiput-posterior to occiput-anterior. As soon as the rotation was complete, she came sliding right out! 

Labor is a dance between the mother and baby. Together they find the ideal movements and positions that allow for a safe and easier birth experience. Listening to our inner voice and literally moving with it is the essence of this dance. It can make the difference between a safer, easier birth and one filled with intervention. 

Simple things, such as standing upright if you have been lying down, walking if you have been stationary, rotating the hips, and other movements in labor, can help this dance unfold. All of the techniques shown above for pregnancy can be used in labor as well. Some are more suited to certain cases, and all have the possibility of balancing the pelvis and helping the baby descend into the birth canal for a safer, easier birth. 

It’s important for moms to realize how to support their own physiology and trust that their body and baby knows what is best for their birth.

What You Sleep On Matters

We spend 1/3 of our lives laying on our mattress – sometimes more.  We always recommend a high quality mattress to protect your neurostructural care here at Foundation Chiropractic, but what does that mean?

First, you want to look for a firm foam. Many people prefer a softer foam on top for comfort, but the firm layer is what supports your structure. Be sure to look at the materials being used and avoid any brands that may contain toxic ingredients – again 1/3 of our life – that’s a lot of breathing.

Another consideration is what you put the mattress on. To preserve the longevity and quality of your new mattress be sure to use a platform frame or good box spring.

Our favorite mattresses are the the Classic 8” and the Simmons Black line Alexa if you prefer springs


As The Twig Grows, So Does The Tree

I recently watched a video of funny kid fails:  https://youtu.be/ucW9WmV9SWI

While yes, it is heart warming and funny, it is a reminder of just how common knocks and falls are in childhood. It is estimated that by age 3, a child will have had three major falls such as off the changing table, out of a bed or down a flight of stairs. I know this certainly rings true for my child.  As for the number of minor falls such as tipping over on their head as they learn to sit, crawl and walk – it may be thousands of times throughout childhood.

Kids seem to bounce right back, but this may hide the subtle damage caused by these seemingly insignificant slips and falls that lead to neurostructural shifts over time.

This is why we believe the best way to protect our children against future secondary conditions is to have them checked regularly for any abnormal shifts. We use 

specific techniques with children and tailor the adjustments to the child’s size and age. This allows the best support for optimal growth.

Burn, Baby Burn...Fevers

Fevers are something I often see that parents feel uneasy about. They are unsure of how high is too high and are quick to give fever reducers. It is important to understand the basics of the immune system that is creating these fevers in order to understand how to react appropriately.

One thing to recognize, is that illness is not necessarily a bad thing. It is hard to see our little ones feel unwell, but getting sick then well is an essential part of developing strength for a lifelong immune system that is effective. 

Fever can accompany illness, but not always. Children often get fevers when they are under increased stress. That could be growth with massive cell turnover, illness, or even exhaustion. It is important to remember that when the body is remodeling and changing with growth, there is some demolition -  a breaking down of old cells and tissues that results in toxic waste and debris. The body normally cleans up as it rebuilds new cells and tissues.

When the body kicks into go-mode and high gear, it can manifest as illness with inflammation, fever and discharge of mucus. Thus, we come down with a cold, flu, vomiting, diarrhea, strep throat, etc. If the body has too much toxicity, then a removing those toxins with a fever, runny nose, vomiting or diarrhea, is an act of housecleaning that the body must complete.

 

When a child has a fever, it is time for them to rest and stay warm. Even when they feel hot to you, warm clothes that keep their cheeks rosy, their hands and feet warm, but there is no sweat or perspiration, should be just right to support their healing. The body needs to be hot to burn out the illness, making most people healthier after they’ve had a fever. 

Chocolate: Friend or Foe?

You may have heard that chocolate is detrimental to your waistline and health, but at Foundation Chiropractic we say eat it up! A recent study in the journal Heart shows that habitual chocolate consumption is correlated to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Flavonoids found in cacao have been shown to be an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogen. However, not all chocolate is created equally, so be sure to grab a higher cacao percentage found in dark chocolate. 

Crawling Is The New Plank

You learned to crawl as a baby but - why is this motion beneficial to anyone past infancy? 

Using cross crawl motions is a reset for your brain, nervous system, paraspinal support muscles and pelvic stability. Having older children crawl has been shown also improved coordination, sensory integration, behavior, and skills in reading and writing. These benefits don’t end in childhood and carry on into all ages.

Crawling is any form of cross-lateral pattern that causes the opposite side of your body to 

work in unison. This means you may already see it in the gym - it may be disguised as "bird dog", mountain climbers, or scissor crunches. 


So how can you support your neurostructural correction by crawling? I suggest you start with 5-minutes each day. Find a spot, preferably with carpet or rubber flooring to make it a bit easier on your knees, and start crawling like a baby. Be sure to plant one hand then bring the opposite knee forward. Hold your core in tightly and keep your back neutral to prevent swaying. Concentrate on form, not speed. After you get used to the motion you can add in variations such as crawling backwards or on uneven surfaces such as stairs, hills or sand.

Does Your Furry Friend Affect Your Health?

Man’s best friend and your health’s best friend! Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden are reporting in the journal JAMA Pediatrics that early childhood exposure to dogs and farm animals is linked to lower asthma rates.

The link was dramatically stronger in farm animals—where exposure in early childhood resulted in a 50% lower risk of asthma later.

This research supports previous research from the University of Arizona that showed canines might also have a "probiotic effect" on humans. Microbes in our gut can have profound effects on our health, both our mental health as well as our physical well-being.

Forget the yogurt and kiss that pup!


Omega-3 Oil: What You MUST Know!

As you know, at Foundation Chiropractic, we strongly advocate our patients take Omega-3 oil supplementations as a complementary recommendation. Let’s say you have two different brands of 1,000mg capsules. Are the capsules the same?  The answer is NO.

Here’s why: there is a huge difference when s comes to sourcing, quality and quantity of oil. The best Omega-3 is from cold salt-water fish such as sardines, anchovies, and salmon. Warm water and fresh-water fish are not a good source for Omega-3. Quality has a lot to do with the extraction process from I’s source as well as the elimination of PCBs, dioxins, furans, PAHs, mercury, and of course other heavy metals. You obviously want to removes the unwanted junk while still preserving the quality of oil.

When it comes to the correct amount, we need to get specific. At the very least, an average adult should be taking no less than 1,000 EPA per day. Notice we don’t mention “1,000mg of Omega-3 or fish oil per day”. We specifically mention EPA.

EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) is the powerhouse of fish oil. It, along with DHA (which is very important for little ones and nursing moms), are the most important part of Omega-3 oil. Two different brands of 1,000mg capsules may have varying levels of EPA ranging from as little as 70mg to 750mg. The point? All oils are not created equally.

You need to know what to look for. In our practice, we carry the finest quality Omega-3 oil. Is our Omega-3 oil more expensive that what you might find at a warehouse club, department store or supplement store? Absolutely. We will never apologize for carrying quality products.

Anti-Antibacterial

How does the new FDA ban on triclosan, amongst 18 ingredients found in hand soaps, affect your family? 

First, you need to throw out the products that do contain these ingredients. Triclosan has been linked to a range of adverse health and environmental effects from skin irritation, endocrine disruption, bacterial and compounded antibiotic resistance, to the contamination of water and its negative impact on fragile aquatic ecosystems. Products that contain triclosan include sanitizers, wipes, toothpaste, toys, and other “antibacterial” qualities.

Second, take the proper measures to effectively interact with the daily bugs and germs we all encounter.

  • ·       Wash your hands with plain soap and water.
  • ·       Cover yourmouth and nose with a tissue or the crook of your arm when you sneeze or cough to prevent droplets from spreading.
  • ·       Strengthen your immune system through a healthy diet with a variety of fruits andvegetable, plenty of water,  staying active outdoors when possible, and corrective chiropractic care.

Are you fueling your child's brain?

The portion of your brain that connects the two sides, along with the covering that wraps around your nerves are made up of fat. Our brains are made up of 60% fat, with half of that coming from DHA - found in fish oil, algae, egg yolks, liver and mother's milk.

So what does gender have to do with it? Males have a 3x higher need for essential fatty acids than girls do. The difference between the genders accounts for the ease of men to lose weight, however it can also mean that boy's/men's brains are starving. 

Without proper fat intake, the neurostructural corrections that you receive will be less effective in improving healing and function. Stay tuned next month for signs and symptoms of too little fat and what you can do at home.

PR's and Chiropractic

Can you increase your personal record (PR), strength, improve muscle function, and prevent fatigue with chiropractic care?

Yes! 

New research suggests that chiropractic corrections maximize sport performance and aid recovery. A study in the Journal of Experimental Brain Research measured the electrical activity of muscle before and after the chiropractic correction. The results showed an increase in muscle electrical activity of 60% and a 16% increase in absolute muscle force measures. There was also a 45% increase in the ‘drive’ from the brain to muscle.

How? 

When the chiropractic correction is made, it stimulates and excites neural pathways between the brain and the target muscles. This results in increased muscle fiber activity. This work provides further evidence of the capacity of chiropractic care to address the aspects of the brain-body integration and overall body performance.

 

Why Infants Need Neurostructural Correction

Birth trauma can lead to neurological dysfunction, because 65% of neurological development occurs in the first year, it is crucial to optimize these structures and allow your child the best possible chances and normal, healthy neurological development. 

What  does the research say?

A recent study by Viola Frymann, an osteopathic doctor, revealed that out of 1,500 babies - 

  • only 10% had perfect skulls without cranial restriction 
  • 10% had severe trauma to the head 
  • 80% had some strain patterns


Dr. Abram Towbin, a Harvard pathologist found spinal injury is a common result of the bathing process as well as in many cases of SIDS.

Another study by Dr. Gutmann, found in 1,000 infants, 80% had some form of nerve dysfunction.

Very short labor, very long labor, failure for the cervix to dilate, use of Pitocin, use of forces or vacuum extraction, cord around the babies neck and cesarean can all alter the normal structure that may lead to nervous dysfunction. 

For these reasons, infants should be checked and assessed by a pediatric chiropractor as soon after birth as possible. 

 

Are Your Kids Sprouting Like Weeds?

While halloween is most likely the time of year you will see skeletons walking around, Spring is when those bones do the most growing - 3x as fast in fact! 

Our bodies are made up of 206 bones and are 4x stronger than concrete. 26 of these bones are in your spine to protect your spinal cord, provide structure and allow motion.

As kiddos grow at such a fast rate, there are a few things to remember to keep their bones healthy as they "spring" into their new bodies:

 

  • Get them outside! Vitamin D is essential in bone health and growth. Limit sunscreen use for peak hours of the day (10:30am-3:30pm)

 

  • Schedule their Neurostructural correction to be sure their nerve tissue is protected by properly aligned spinal bones


By keeping those developing bones healthy and strong, you may end up at the mall shopping for the next sizes sooner than you thought. Happy Spring!

Tumeric: Natures Ibuprofen

I often have patients ask about how they can reduce the inflammation causing their secondary conditions such as neck pain, foot pain or aches. After addressing the primary condition of neurostructural shift that is causing these secondary conditions, I often advise them to consider turmeric to address the inflammation. 

There are endless reports and studies involving the most active constituent of turmeric – curcumin. This powerful antioxidant has shown to work equally or better than NSAID’s in relief from osteoarthritis. It also has been shown to reduce GI inflammation involved with IBS and inducing programmed death of cancer cell. 

Whether you use a high quality curcumin supplement or eat a big serving of delicious turmeric curry, we should all be enjoying the benefits of nature’s liquid or powdered gold.

Lemongrass Turmeric Curry Paste:

4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, tender center part only

6 medium garlic cloves, peeled

6 medium shallots, peeled

3 medium serrano chiles, stemmed

3-inch piece of ginger, peeled

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1/4 cup good extra-virgin coconut, sunflower or olive oil

 

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. The paste will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Freeze any paste you won't use for future use.

 

 

Pediatric/Family Wellness: Best Kept Secret Finalist!!!!

It's an honor...

We have been named a finalist in the Pediatric/Family Wellness: Best Kept Secret category for the 2016 Macaroni Kid Gold Daisy Award.

Please vote for us if you think we are the best! Voting ends October 18th. You also have a chance to win! By voting, you will be entered for a chance to win a $50 Gift Card, compliments of Macaroni Kid! Click here to submit your vote: Gold Daisy Award Voting  

Thank you for the nominations and votes!