The Vital First Adjustment
The baby was born without respiration or a heartbeat. There are moments in one’s life where time seems to slow down and you truly do experience an out-of-body sensation. There were so many things going on around me, but all I could do was stare at the small, seemingly lifeless form.
I remember the midwives were unbelievably calm, working quickly and professionally to administer oxygen to the baby. I felt such awe and respect for those two women; the baby couldn’t have been in more capable hands. I remember the head midwife, Monica, looked up and locked eyes with me. “Call 911 in case we need to transfer the baby and mom to the hospital,” she said.
The medical center was a two-minute drive away. The phone call was quick and to the point, and as I hung up the phone and returned to the birth room I heard the most magical sound: The baby gave a feeble cry. Monica picked up the little baby boy and placed him skin to skin on his mother’s breast. Yet the room was still filled with tension. Was the baby completely OK?
Before I get to my role in this story, let me back up a little. Katie (the baby’s mother) had been in labor for several hours and was having great difficulties. Her baby, Ethan, had what is known as shoulder dystocia, which basically means his shoulder had become stuck on the pubic bone as he was going through the birth canal. This happens in about 1 in 200 births. He also happened to have the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, which happens in 1 in every 3 births. This combination led to decreased oxygen and sent his entire system into shock.
Due to the midwives’ diligence in monitoring both mom and baby, they became aware of the severity of the situation as soon as the baby went into distress, and they were about to act accordingly. I truly admire the amazing women of this profession, who are so in tune with the human body’s needs. They treat birth as a natural part of life, but are there to use their expertise if necessary.
I was also impressed by how quickly the EMTs responded, and how they stood on call, ready to help at a moment’s notice but not trying to control the situation.
I knew that I wanted a midwife at my own children’s births, but it became evident then how important it is to know your midwife’s working relationship with the surrounding hospitals in case the birth becomes an emergency and a transfer is necessary.
I will also be sure there is a chiropractor at my birth. (Now we’ve come full circle, back to my role.) Of course, I am biased, since my husband and I are chiropractors, but here is my testimony to our profession’s importance in childbirth:
When baby Ethan was placed on his mom’s chest, his breathing was still uneven, his color blue, and his cries weak. As the midwife checked his vitals, she shook her head and told the EMT standing by not to leave yet. Then she looked at me and I nodded. I asked Katie and her husband, Ben, if I could adjust baby Ethan. Ben squeezed his wife’s shoulder and they jokingly reminded me that that’s why I was there. (It was such an inspiration to see this strong couple keep up their sense of humor with everything going on.)
“ Happy Birthday, Ethan! A year ago there was a moment where we didn’t know if you would be joining us in this world; today, one year later, your little smile brightens up the room.”
Keeping Ethan skin-to-skin on his mother, I carefully checked his spine. It was evident he had several cervical (neck) and thoracic (upper back) subluxations—spinal joint misalignments. These were most likely caused due to the trauma of his birth. Despite all the activity still going on around me, I suddenly became very calm. It was just baby Ethan and me; the whole rest of the world faded away. Using practiced fingers and clinical knowledge I gently adjusted Ethan’s little spine. The areas of his thoracic spine that were restricted had direct nerve supply to his heart and lungs. Immediately after his adjustment, Monica checked his vitals. The look of concentration left her face and she smiled broadly. “Everything is OK,” she told us. “All of his vitals are normal!”
With the interference (the subluxation) to the nervous system removed, Ethan’s body was able to selfregulate, resulting in balance within his body. This is the power of an adjustment, and why it’s important to have a chiropractor at your baby’s birth. Neither mom nor baby had any serious complications (mom had minor tearing) from this potentially devastating birth experience. Both were adjusted again two days later.
Ethan’s story is a reminder to all parents-to-be the importance of having a good birth team, one that works together with the mom’s and baby’s best interest at heart.
Happy first birthday, baby Ethan. Thanks to you and your parents for letting me be a part of your story. You will always hold a special place in my heart.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #46 and #64.
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