By Dr. Ryan Kiser
Hey Everyone, Dr Ryan here from Future Generations. If we haven’t met yet, I’m the new guy at FG working alongside Dr. Stan. Today we are going to be talking about something we are blessed to deal with daily in our office, which is pregnancy, and the end goal of that, which is a beautiful birth.
In this blog we are going to be talking about the importance of bodily autonomy for two and how it shows up in normal vs common birth, birth trauma, and the risks associated with the most common interventions that happen during the pregnancy/birth process.
But first, a beautiful quote from the founder of chiropractic:
“Mothers and their babies are liable to be injured at childbirth. Many have their vertebrae displaced at this critical period, causing acute and chronic diseases. If the adjuster is a chiropractor, he can adjust such, thereby preventing dis-ease.” DD Palmer, 1910
Families should all have a choice in their birthing process. Moms should have the power to choose anything and everything that is going to happen during their pregnancy/birth, because it is theirs to live with after everything is said and done. Doctors, including chiropractors, serve YOU.
Not the other way around.
We have been hired by you to navigate these processes and help you through your pregnancy. Our job is to ultimately tell you what we think is best for you and your unborn child, and honor the decision you make in regards to our recommendations.
I have seen moms make a variety of choices in my 11 years of practice. I’ve seen moms plan for an unassisted birth at home. I’ve also seen moms have scheduled c-sections. Both of these should be welcomed to happen, as long as mothers know everything they’re getting into (risks, benefits, consequences, etc).
What is a normal birth?
Some moms are waking up to the brilliance, beauty, power, and fire that is the female arm of our species. They are the safeguard of life itself.
A normal birth is defined as…
- low-risk pregnancy with spontaneous onset of labor occurring between 37 and 42 weeks’ gestation.
- Labor is allowed to progress on its own with the free movement and positioning of the mother throughout.
- After birth, the mother and infant are in good condition and are allowed unlimited time for breastfeeding and initiating bonding.
- Often referred to as natural birth.
- Can be confused with a “common birth” which may include Pitocin, epidurals & more.
Most births do not happen this way. A common birth is basically everything other than what is listed above. This can include things like different interventions, not letting mom move around while laboring, c-section, and/or any assisted delivery (vacuum/forceps).
These types of births most commonly result in birth trauma to both mom and baby, as highlighted in a previous blog.
Before I discuss birth trauma, I’m going to discuss how it might come about.
A c-section is the surgical procedure by which a baby is delivered through an incision in the mother’s abdomen. This is both performed in an elective and emergency procedure. “Elective” meaning that mom and doctor have scheduled a day to undergo the procedure. “Emergency” meaning that it is typically performed because vaginal delivery may put mom and baby at risk.
Don’t be fooled.
A c-section is a MAJOR surgery, and should be fully understood prior to making this decision.
According to the data, it is no safer for mom or baby, and can lead to extended recovery times for mom.
Here is a link to an animation of a c-section.
Most of us don’t recognize the US has a national c-section rate of 32.8%, with some hospitals having as high as 60%. The World Health Organization recommends a rate between 10-15%.
Unfortunately there are many reasons for this high percentage in our country including:
- Low priority of enhancing women’s own abilities to give birth & lack of trust in innate intelligence
- Side effects of common labor interventions
- Casual attitudes about surgery and variation in professional practice style
- Incentives to practice in a manner that is efficient for providers
- Refusal to offer the informed choice of vaginal birth
We deeply respect every mother’s power to choose the birth they desire. There are a plethora of risks one should take into consideration when considering a c-section which include:
- Accidental surgical cuts to internal organs.
- Major infection.
- Emergency hysterectomy (because of uncontrollable bleeding).
- Complications from anesthesia.
- Deep venous clots that can travel to the lungs and brain.
- Admission to intensive care.
- Readmission to the hospital for complications related to the surgery.
- Pain that may last six months or longer after.
- Adhesions, thick internal scar tissue that may cause future chronic pain.
- Negative psychological consequences with unplanned cesarean.
While we subscribe to the belief that most doctors are caring, intelligent and service-oriented, many of the above may happen as a result of interventions like the “early eviction notice” that is pitocin.
Pitocin is a synthetic version of the natural hormone oxytocin that is used at birth to speed up the process. It works by causing the uterus to contract to induce labor. It can strengthen labor contractions during birth, and can be used to control bleeding after birth.
Contractions come on stronger and at irregular intervals, making it more difficult for the laboring woman. According to the scientific literature, pitocin is not supported as effective.
Pitocin risks include:
- Increase in pain, stress, and time of labor
- Nausea and vomiting are common
- Increased need for analgesic drugs
- Can cause rupturing of the uterus, tearing of soft tissues, and postpartum hemorrhage
- May lead to c-section if failure to progress
- Can cause fetal distress
- May cause postpartum depression
An Epidural on the other hand, is a procedure that injects a local anesthetic into the space around your spinal nerves in the lower back. It typically blocks all of the pain associated with the contractions of labor, and birth itself. More than 60% of women are given an epidural during their birth.
There are many medical risks of epidural use during labor:
- epidurals interfere with the important cocktail of birth hormones
- epidurals lengthen labor
- epidurals increase the rate of pelvic floor problems after delivery
- epidural triples the risk of severe perineal tear
- drugs administered by an epidural enter baby’s bloodstream
- baby is less alert & has less ability to orient
Assisted births can include the use of forceps, a vacuum, or even just hands for the removal of the baby from mom. This typically results in an excess amount of force placed on the baby’s neck by way of traction, rotation, and hyperextension of the head. The baby’s shoulder may still be inside the vaginal canal, anchored down, while the doctor pulls/twists/rotates the baby’s head to try and get the baby out.
These types of outside forces placed on the infant’s neck have the potential to cause nerve damage to the neck that result in a multitude of things we commonly see here at Future Generations like:
- digestive disorders
- respiratory distress
- difficulty with feeding and attachment sleeping problems
- neurological defects
The forceful pulling of a baby from mom can even result in several different kinds of fractures. A colleague of ours just had a twin birth, where one of the babies was pulled out by their leg resulting in a femur fracture.
Now, I’m sure reading this list makes you want to run out and give birth. People are finally waking up to how we own ourselves. Like I said earlier, the doctors work for you. Every step of the process should be gone over with mom and dad. There HAS to be informed consent for any and every intervention that takes place. Mom should hear the risks of every procedure, the benefits, and the question: “is this what you want” for everything that is taking place. If birthing in a hospital, the doctor should be asked what their and hospital’s c-section rates are. If working with a midwife, you should know their transfer rates. Midwifery care sees/hears/values women’s perspectives much more optimally and because of that they have much better outcomes/less invasive interventions. After all this, you may be wondering what is a chiropractor’s role in pregnancy?
It can play a major role in how mom feels, functions, and the labor time of the birth (faster). By balancing the nervous system through specific adjustments to the spine, we can ensure everything works how it is supposed to when going into your birth. Making sure the pelvis is moving and balanced will allow it to expand when it needs to. Chiropractic adjustments do just that.
At Future Generations, we pride ourselves on our clinical excellence when it comes to moms and moms-to-be. Our exam is focused around the structure and functionality of the pelvis. Our physical examination looks at pelvic leveling, distortion, and mobility. We do two different nervous system scans to measure how the nerves for that area are communicating to the body which would influence birth outcomes like cervical dilation and uterine contractions. We also look at comfort levels and baby positioning. All of these help us ascertain an individual plan of action for mom, which has been shown to decrease labor times, increase comfort during pregnancy and labor, and reduce unnecessary interventions.
We believe in mom’s right to own her birth and are here to serve and advocate for mom and baby in creating their most optimal birth — whatever that looks like for each duo and family.