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Posted on 11-17-2015
Chiropractic can help premature babies THRIVE!
In honor of World Prematurity Day I would like to share a few ways in which I have personally seen chiropractic support and improve the quality of life of premature babies. Whether a baby is born prematurely due to a major health complication such as pre-eclampsia or because of premature labor, chiropractic care can assist these tiny little humans in their transition from the womb to the outside world.
Here are THE TOP 2 WAYS I have personally witnessed CHIROPRACTIC help premature babies THRIVE.
Chiropractic can help premature babies LIVE by supporting the Autonomic Nervous System- These precious little angels come up against many challenges during the early days of life and often struggle to regulate basic physiological functions such as breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. The area in the body that controls these autonomic functions (automatic functions- functions in which you don’t have to think about in order to do) is the brain stem. The brain stem is intimately located at the base of the skull and becomes the spinal cord where the skull ends and the 1st vertebra in the neck begins. Because of this intimate relationship we find that when the 1st vertebra is out of place (even by less than 1mm) it can cause serious and often life threatening complications related to regulation of the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems of the body which are vital to neonatal survival.
This is why it is recommend that all babies, ESPECIALLY premature babies who are often in more of a critical condition then a full term baby, have their upper cervical spine assessed by a Pediatric Chiropractor. If a subluxation (a bone out of place causing interference to the nervous system) is present the Chiropractor can perform a very gentle and specific adjustment to the baby’s neck in that area thus removing interference to the baby's autonomic nervous system which will allow their body to function at its fullest potential. Chiropractic helps premature babies THRIVE by removing interference to their nervous system allowing their body to better regulate itself and this results in fewer unnecessary medical procedures, medication, and shorten the time the baby is in NICU.
Chiropractic can help premature babies overcome breastfeeding challenges- The challenges that mothers and premature babies face when trying to establish a breastfeeding relationship are quite difficult! The baby often can’t be held to initiate skin to skin contact, may be on a ventilator as well as an array of other intensive care monitors, ports, and IV’s which all pose a threat to the breastfeeding relationship. Many mothers are steadfast in their commitment to give their baby breastmilk and if they can’t feed them at the breast they are on a rigorous pumping schedule to try and establish and maintain their milk supply. There may also be an additional hurdle to jump with the staff tending to the baby as in my experience most NICU Doctor’s and Nurses are far more formula friendly than breastfeeding friendly. (When a baby is having difficulty eating or gaining weight Doctors will quickly suggest high calorie formula because it is easier for them to track the calories. I could go off on a tangent here so we will save this topic for another blog :-)) In addition to these challenges I have found that many premature babies have compromise to the upper cervical spine (neck), TMJ, and cranial complex which all have to work together in order for the baby to have a proper latch and swallow mechanism. It is likely that the subluxations in this area affecting the baby’s ability to suck and swallow occurred during birth or after as the baby is under a lot of physical, emotional, and chemical stress (medications).
A Pediatric Chiropractor has the ability to evaluate the baby’s neck, TMJ, and cranial bones for small misalignments that may be preventing the baby’s mouth from opening all the way, the tongue from getting full extension, and the esophagus from swallowing properly and even the stomach from keeping the breastmilk down. Early detection and correction of these issues can help mothers and babies overcome a lot of the challenges of early breastfeeding and help secure the long term breastfeeding relationship, allow the baby to eat and gain weight unimpeded, and result in faster healing and recovery.
There is nothing more rewarding than helping the tiniest humans on earth transition into their life outside of the womb. I have had the honor and privilege of caring for premature babies in my office and people are always struck with awe and wonder when they have the opportunity to see me adjust such a tiny baby as the baby often sleeps through the entire adjustment.
Happy World Prematurity Day to all those mama’s and babies out there!
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