I start this blog with a disclaimer… nothing I say in the following paragraphs is meant to marginalize or stigmatize any mother for her respective birth choices, experiences or outcomes. This blog is meant to deeply highlight one of the blindspots in our conventional medical system. 

The term “birth trauma” is almost never talked about in clinical healthcare today. As a society we’ve almost normalized that birth is going to be some sort of problematic event in a new mother’s life. It’s become so common today for a birthing mother to have a {insert negative adjective} birthing experience that there is a significant level of fear and trepidation amongst these new moms. 

This is reinforced, 100%, by everything we see in the media today whether it’s books, movies or TV shows. Some in the natural birthing world call the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” a thriller novel because it normalizes trauma at birth. 

So I’d like to look at this trauma from a whole picture perspective. 

If conventional healthcare does recognize at least one part of the mom and baby dyad, they look at the mother. There are some resources that are becoming more commonplace such as pelvic floor PT‘s which is fantastic. There are natural birthing communities that are absolutely essential, in my opinion, to empowering new couples–especially moms–in their journey to grow their family.

Given what we have mentioned so far, it is important to recognize that the trauma begins before couples even learn they’re pregnant. There are young women today who have been programmed in their minds (through media and experience with conventional doctors and medical staff) that pregnancy is a disease which needs to be managed and birth is this emergent event which must need some sort of medical attention that is more often than not highly technological, industrial and unfortunately very mechanistic today.

With that said, I know conventional healthcare saves lives EVERYDAY. 

We ought to be grateful for this. When it comes to birth, it is well documented if a birth doula is present to advocate for mothers, that unnecessary interventions are reduced or prevented all together. It is also well-documented that if mothers are simply given more TIME to labor the rate of c-section is greatly reduced.

Why would these factors make such an impact? 

Why would doing LESS, potentially lead to better outcomes for mom and baby? 

The answer is very simple. It’s because pregnancy and birth are not diseases to be managed. They are both literally at the seat of procreation and the forwarding of life on the planet. This is simply biology and normal physiological birth is our birthright as a species for both mom and baby. 

It is very important to recognize that 1 in 7 mothers experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. A grand majority of mothers express their birth as traumatic. This trauma can be any combination of physical, mental, or emotional trauma. From the lack of bedside manner to the use of force (obstetric violence is very well-documented) or simply feeling unseen, unheard and not valued, mothers are left with trauma. 

And what about baby? 

The challenges above are at least ‘known’ because mothers report them. A newborn baby is not able to voice their opinion or express their experience in verbalized words we can understand the literal meaning of. 

In a 1987 study where 1000 newborns were assessed for birth trauma in the first month of life, 80% were found to have an upper neck misalignment (vertebral subluxation). In 1966, 1250 infants were examined and 90% were found to have cranial and neck subluxation patterns and 10% we found to have severe trauma. 

Dr. Abraham Towbin found in 1969 “The birth process, even under optimal controlled conditions, is potentially a traumatic, crippling event for the fetus. Spinal cord and brain stem injuries occur often during the process of birth, but frequently escape diagnosis.”

Pediatric Neurosurgeon Dr. Heiner Biedermann stated “These delicate [upper cervical] structures undergo considerable stress during delivery. Most of the afferent proprioceptive signals originate from the cranio-cervical junction. Any obstacle impeding these afferent signals will have many more extensive consequences in a developing nervous system, which depends more on appropriate stimuli to organize itself.” 

My question for everyone in pediatric and perinatal healthcare is: WHY ISN’T ANYONE LOOKING AT THIS? 

With 54% of our pediatric population expressing a chronic health problem, why is the reasoning behind it (like we highlighted in our previous blog), “it’s just NORMAL”? 

If babies are birthed into the world in UNCOMPLICATED BIRTHS with so much neuromechanical dissonance, why doesn’t anyone in conventional medicine investigate? How badly is this afflicting newborns whose births are very complicated? What about those who have to go to the NICU for days, weeks or months? 

This to me, is one of the largest gaping holes in healthcare. 

Instead of normalizing poor outcomes or their resultant chronic health problems, how about we actually look at how both mom and baby do functionally post-partum? 

This is truly my favorite part about being the kind of doctor I am. 

I love taking care of moms prenatally. 

I love advising them through their choices.

I love measuring and seeing their function improve throughout their prenatal chiropractic care in our office to the point where THEY and we are both confident in the potential birth outcomes. 

It is the greatest honor of my life when mothers bring their newborns to me to examine. But when we have been blessed to care for mom and baby-in-utero throughout pregnancy, we see a tangible difference in how baby then expresses health or not after birth. 

You see, babies may not have the words to express what’s happened or what’s happening, but their symptomatology does…and almost perfectly, at that. 

Whether it’s:

  •  colic, reflux, constipation….
  • Or they only look one way, have torticollis, or plagiocephaly…. 
  • Or they can’t nurse effectively, efficiently or with comfort…
  • Or the myriad of other conditions skyrocketing (especially in the last year)…

these common problems are signs and symptoms from their little systems screaming for attention BUT we have already read that upwards of 90% of babies are born with trauma irrespective of symptoms AND we know MOST mothers claim their births were not just complicated but were steeped in trauma holistically. 

In the last year, we have only amplified the fear surrounding birth. Birthing moms are telling me very directly about the amount of care that still, a year into the lockdown, remains ‘elective’ or non-essential. I’ve been in practice 11 years and I have NEVER felt more concern for our birthing mothers given the extreme factors affecting their births. 

Because of this, it is my professional assertion that EVERY mom deserves a full chiropractic examination focused on both structural and neurological function prenatally and BOTH mom and baby in the postpartum time period.  

If this were to happen and they were put on an appropriate schedule of chiropractic care, we would not only see an unraveling of the trauma that exists on both sides of birth, but perhaps a prevention of them all together and an expression of our innate birthright which is NORMAL physiological pregnancy, birth and postpartum.