Categories
Vaccines

Chiropractic During Pregnancy

Did you know that not only does your uterus and abdominal area change drastically during your pregnancy, but your spine does also? That’s right! When viewing the spine from the side we typically have curves in our spine both in the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine), and in the opposite direction in the mid back (thoracic spine).  These curves give strength and stability similar to the structural strength of arches on buildings. Pregnancy requires relatively rapid growth of the uterus over a short period of time and the spinal biomechanics have to keep up with these changes. In order to support the growth your center of gravity shifts forward, your lumbar curve increases and your spinal joints have to work overtime to support you. This, of course, can be painful. And here’s the kicker (yes, the baby is also a kicker) that pesky hormone relaxin (ya know the one that relaxes your joints to allow you to push a baby out of your pelvis) affects all your joints and makes them more vulnerable to injury. 

But have no fear! Chiropractic is here! Spinal misalignments, which we call subluxations cause dysfunctional movement, muscles, postural distortions and nerve interference. By detecting subluxations we can make corrections through specific chiropractic adjustments. Pregnancy however requires even more detail in the analysis and adjusting techniques. The Webster Chiropractic technique is a system of adjusting the spine through gentle, specific and effective adjustments to clear the nervous system while adapting to the dynamic nature of a pregnant woman.  

So what’s that popping sound anyway? Chiropractic adjustments don’t always require the big movements with popping or cracking noises (in fact, infant adjustments are performed with little to no force at all, but that’s a story for the next article). There are many tools and techniques to adjust you with whatever style you prefer, but if you do like the bigger adjustments you might hear a popping or cracking noise. Subluxations cause pressure to build up in the joints and the noise is the pressure being released. So technically, subluxations are not misalignments, because the adjustment is not moving the bone back into place but rather it’s releasing pressure and restoring proper joint mechanics. In addition to that, each spinal bone has up to 12 joints on it, so there are 12 opportunities for pressure to build up and 12 opportunities to make some noise! One adjustic thrust can sound like a ton of movement, but often we are localizing that adjustment to the one or two bones that are subluxated, and due to the multiple joints with built up pressure it sounds like every bone has moved! I hear this a lot when taking care of pregnant mamas. The extra relaxin (ya know, that hormone released during pregnancy that helps open your joints to push a baby out) makes the spine more vulnerable to subluxations during pregnancy so we often get a lot of movement during the adjustment. 

We also work with the ligaments such as the round ligament that connects the uterus to the pubic bones. These have little muscle fibers in them so they can contract and get tight when your spine and pelvis are out of alignment. Releasing these ligaments can provide a ton of relief to the pubic joint, lower abdomen and hip joints. I often see mamas who have a very hard time walking or moving their legs in a lunge-type motion, but after a series of Webster chiro care they are in tip-top shape again and ready to take on the world. 

Check out our Cafe of Life YouTube channel for more tips on stretches and mobility movements to assist you in making your pregnancy not only more comfortable but also more empowering! We look forward to seeing you during your pregnancy. It’s such an honor to be invited along the journey with you!

Categories
Vaccines

Introducing Solid Foods & Baby Led Weaning

Are you ready to start your baby on solid foods? Are you overwhelmed by all the contradicting information that’s out there? Yeah, I was too. With most things in parenting, I try to make choices that feel right, authentic and natural. I also tend to take the easy route, I like to call myself “lazy crunchy” because many things that are easy are also pretty natural and holistic. I found Baby-Led Weaning after attending a local workshop on the topic and I’m so glad I did. I read the book and knew that it felt right for my family.

Here’s the book Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley PhD & Tracey Murkett

So the gist of it is all about giving babies real food, in manageable hand-held sizes, and allowing them autonomy to choose how much to eat. It allows them the ability to explore textures and tastes while remembering the motto “food before one is just for fun.” This method also helps the baby learn how to listen to their body and satiation cues. While breastmilk (or formula) should be the primary source of nutrition for the first year, solid foods can be started as early as 6 months. However, it’s best to wait to introduce solids until the baby is sitting up unassisted with good neck strength, is able to move their jaw and tongue and is showing an interest in foods.

Start with one food at a time. This allows the child to really engage with the food and determine how to handle it and how to eat it, while also pinpointing allergies or intolerances. With my kiddos we started with things like cauliflower that we steamed so it was super soft, sweet potato peeled and baked into big strips, banana peeled and left whole so it wasn’t too slippery to hold, and a plain omlet cut into chunks.

The book explains how and why this method works, and I’ll tell you I’ve seen it work for my kiddos. They are both adventurous eaters and we don’t struggle with getting our toddlers to eat their vegetables. In fact, a whole bell pepper is often their meal of choice. Or cucumbers are a treat for dessert. I’ve never had to buy processed baby food in a jar or prep baby food at home. Check out the book! I think you’ll be surprised with how much you’ll learn!

And here’s the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook for awesome ideas!

Categories
chiropractic Vaccines

Dr. Steph’s Adventures in Tandem Breastfeeding

Dr. Steph recently wrote an article for Pathways to Family Wellness magazine all about her journey through tandem breastfeeding both of her children.

By the time I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I had read all the books, websites, and Pathways articles I could, and became extremely interested in the benefits of breast milk. All of my reading led me to decide that I wanted to breastfeed for two years. That was my goal. If I made it 6 months at least, it would be okay. If I made it a year, fine. But if I made it two years, I’d feel accomplished. I’d feel like Super Mom.

My first child, Aubree, was born in a hospital after three long days of laboring at home. Thank goodness for the skilled midwives, who came with us to the hospital and helped us advocate to avoid a cesarean birth and create as gentle an experience as possible. A pain-medicated birth wasn’t what I wanted, but at the time it was what I needed. The epidural allowed me to get some rest and regain the energy to start again. I remember my husband, Dean, asking the doctor if he could catch the baby, something we had planned at home; the doctor looked at him like he had two heads. I struggled with my birth experience for a long time, but my midwife told me later how incredible it was that, even though we were at a high-risk hospital with doctors and nurses who had never met us, I was still able to position myself to my hands and knees after getting my epidural, and have a vaginal birth. It’s rare for doctors to allow a mother to move into any position other than on her back after an epidural.

Breastfeeding Aubree was great…at first. While I was reclined, Aubree scooted, pushed, and bobbed her head— and with little guidance, she latched beautifully. This is called a “breast crawl.” I was elated. What a relief! She’s going to be a champ! Things slowly got more challenging. Then it started to hurt. Really hurt. I knew this wasn’t right, and that I needed to seek out a solution.

My midwives helped with positioning tips to make everything more comfortable. Chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy were essential. After each visit, things got easier and easier. I went to breastfeeding support groups led by certified lactation consultants, and it felt so good to be together in a room with other mothers; we all gathered and bonded over our dedication to breastfeeding our babies. With all the support, we eventually found our rhythm.

A slow transition back to work allowed me time to adapt to breastfeeding and pumping. When Aubree was 14 or 15 months, Dean and I got pregnant again. I still had a goal of breastfeeding until Aubree was at least 2 years old, but I knew that being pregnant might make that impossible. I had heard other mothers say that their older child didn’t like the milk when they got pregnant, or their milk dried up, or they just didn’t like the feeling of breastfeeding while pregnant. I was ready for the challenge, but also didn’t want to push it if one of us wasn’t happy.

Luckily, Aubree showed no signs of wanting to stop. I was happy to continue, so we did. About 30 weeks or so into the pregnancy, I felt like I’d “dried up,” and the milk was sparse. At that point I felt like I had made it that far, so why not just keep going? More milk would come soon. And at around 36 weeks, more milk started coming. By that time, we were really only nursing in the mornings, and maybe a few times during the day. But the look on Aubree’s face when the milk started flowing again was like blissful shock. It was so cute to see her slightly confused, pointing to my breast as if to show me that things had changed. She was almost 2, and my belly was huge.

Dean and I planned another home birth. Labor began in the morning with mild contractions, I breastfed Aubree, which helped to stimulate contractions. She stayed with us for several hours. Labor picked up quickly, and after a few more hours we had a beautiful home birth. Dean caught our son alongside our midwives, and we were snuggling in our bed within five minutes. I had another opportunity to watch my newborn do the breast crawl, and he latched beautifully. When Aubree saw him get “milkies,” she wanted some too. It was an adorable bonding moment that she could be soothed and nourished alongside her new baby brother. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

Continuing to breastfeed both Aubree and Roland proved to be beneficial in so many ways. If I was engorged, Aubree took care of it. If my let-down was too fast, she latched first. If she was having a tough toddler moment, milkies saved the day. I’m not sure if it was just the fact that Roland was a second baby, or that I was still breastfeeding Aubree, or having a successful home birth, or all of it combined, but feeding Roland was so much easier. In any case, I didn’t have any pain with his latch, my supply regulated much faster, and everything was just much more comfortable. It’s pretty convenient that nature gave us two breasts.

We continued to tandem for another year. During that time, I decided to put a few boundaries up for nursing Aubree. We had a rocking chair in the living room, and we decided that would be our milkies chair when we were home. It allowed me to feed Roland when needed without jealousy or meltdowns. Boundaries allowed me to maintain my modesty and avoid being fully exposed in public. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for breastfeeding in public, and I’d still nurse each one in public— just not at the same time. I think it’s important, but I didn’t feel totally comfortable being completely topless. I just felt too exposed.

With Aubree’s third birthday approaching I started to feel increasingly ready to wean her. We would go days sometimes without nursing, and she wouldn’t even ask. I felt ready, and I felt that she was ready too. We would talk about her not having any more milkies once she turned three. She seemed to understand. The day before her birthday I said, “Okay, Aubree, your birthday is tomorrow. You’re going to be three. Would you like milkies today for the last time ever?” She said yes, so we nursed. I let her feed for as long as she wanted. I offered the other side. And when she was done she popped off and said, “All done.” Prior to that, ending a nursing session was often met with upset, but this time was different. She finished when she was ready.

The next day she was 3. She told everyone, “I’m three and when I’m three I don’t get any more milkies.” Since that day, she has only asked once. When I gently said, “No, sweetie, we stopped doing milkies when you turned three,” she adorably responded, “I’m not three, I’m a baby.” It’s funny how smart they are. We giggled, and I again explained how we were all done with milkies for her. That was the last time she asked. I still cherish our three years nursing together. It was such a beautiful challenge.

I’m so grateful that both my babies allowed me to nourish them for so long. It fostered such a profound connection, deeper than I ever imagined. I know not everyone is so lucky. So many families struggle much more than we did. But if breastfeeding is important to you, please, find your tribe who will support you, whether in person, or online. Support is vital to your journey. It definitely was important to mine.