My Why: Part 2
Choosing to become a chiropractor has changed my lifestyle and the way I raise my family from a symptom based model of thinking where people get sick and then take medicines to mask symptoms to a salutogenic or health and wellness based thinking. While attending an International Chiropractic Pediatric Association conference last month, I was asked to say what having completed the pediatric certification program has meant for me. Initially my thought was that it has helped with clinical competency in working with infants, children and pregnant women, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it has helped me to be better mom to my two boys.
If you ask people what the best day of their lives was, they'd probably say the birth of their children. For me, the birth of my oldest was arduous and exhausting. On April fools day at 2:00am I woke with back to back contractions. They were so close I couldn't time them. I woke my husband and I said" the baby is coming!" He said "are you sure?" I snapped back "yes! I'm sure!" My husband and I had taken the Bradley Method classes and were planning a natural hospital water birth with midwives. At about 6:00pm with continued back to back contractions and my water unbroken, we decided to go in to the hospital. As I arrived, I was told that the water birth room was already occupied and that we had been given the last birthing room. It was a smaller room that wouldn't accommodate even the portable birthing tub. I was disappointed, but I at least had a whirlpool tub in the room and tried to remain hopeful. My contractions remained intense and constant and at midnight I was told that the water birth room was vacant and I was able to switch rooms. As I sat in the tub with my feet braced against the molded foot ledge, I instantly felt my contractions become less intense. Even after my midwife broke my water, I remained at 6 centimeters dilated at noon the next day. I had been in labor so long that a different midwife was assigned to me and decided that an epidural would be beneficial to help my labor progress. A while later, a nurse found that I had a fever and I was diagnosed with an infection. After two more hours of labor, I pushed for five hours and my baby wouldn't budge. His heart rate started decelerating with contractions. We decided to call in the OB/GYN and decided to do a c-section. I was disappointed that despite chiropractic care, very minimal weight gain, eating a very clean diet, and being active my whole pregnancy, I ended up with a c-section. Luckily my baby was safely delivered at around 9:00pm that night. I was so sick from the anesthesia and recovering from the surgery that instead of bringing me the baby, he was given to my husband. Shortly after though, I was able to hold and nurse my new baby, but my c-section made caring for him difficult because getting in and out of bed wasn't easy. Afterward, my milk supply was always low and getting my baby to latch was also difficult. Despite meeting with lactation consultants, he wouldn't nurse well. I ended up exclusively expressing milk and supplementing with formula as needed for 14 months.
Fortunately my second birth was different. With both babies I had constant morning sickness well into my third trimester and was labeled with gestational diabetes mellitus . With both pregnancies I ate very clean and was very active and I even participated in a triathlon at 8 weeks pregnant with my second baby. I found that acupuncture, inhaling peppermint and lemon essential oils, and running were the only things that gave me much relief from the relentless nausea, which made even driving my car difficult. Chiropractic care helped me with discomfort and headaches from vomiting so often. Due to one of my sonograms showing potential low amniotic fluid, I was getting weekly ultrasounds and biweekly non-stress tests. I really wanted a natural birth, but after so many medical evaluations and appointments I started doubting whether I should even attempt it. Fortunately I had a check-up and my midwife told me how successful their group of midwives was at performing Vaginal Births After Cesarean Sections (VBACs) and told me that if I really wanted one, I should continue with pursuing one. That was all the encouragement I needed. I still was concerned that I was told I needed to deliver by 39 weeks or I'd need to be induced due to me being on a once a day dose of insulin and I knew that each medical intervention would lead me closer to another c-section. To get myself ready for my induction, I had a membrane sweep and had acupuncture. I was 3 centimeters dilated by the time I got to the hospital and was induced with pitocin. I walked frequently during my labor and was constantly monitored to detect potential rupture, which is an infrequent dangerous condition that can occur with VBACs, but I was able to be mobile. I used a peanut ball to help with pelvic opening and my doula and I incorporated Spinning Babies exercises from a class we had both attended when the contractions became more intense. With the help of my midwife, her student midwife, and my doula, and my husband, I had a wonderful birth without pain medication and was able to pull my baby to my chest and even got to determine his gender. It was a wonderful experience having so many people cheering me on and supporting me! Even my husband said he had a smile on his face the whole time because everything went so well compared to what we experienced with our first. Having birth be a positive experience after having our first be so long, tiring, and not what we had envisioned, was extremely healing.
My birth experiences have helped me gain an understanding of how the birth process can go so many different ways and have better equipped me to care for pregnant patients with various pregnancy concerns and goals . Being supported by your birth provider is so important. Trusting your body and that birth is a normal physiologic function and not being treated as though you have a disease or fearing the birth is also important. As a chiropractor working with pregnant women, my goal is to help women view birth as a normal function of the body and not fear the process by helping to keep the structures of the pelvis aligned to create balance and a better environment for the baby. Studies are showing that chiropractic care for women, especially using the Webster Technique are not only extremely safe, but also effective in reducing pain and improving labor and delivery times and helping to reduce dystocia. There is no time to early in the pregnancy to begin prenatal chiropractic care. It is widely accepted that more medical interventions lead to greater risk of complications and organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated a goal of limiting interventions during labor and birth. Chiropractors with advanced training in working with pregnant women offer a gentle, drug and surgery free method of reducing pain and discomfort associated with pregnancy and exercise and nutritional advice that can offer ways of helping to keep pregnant women at lower risk of needing medical interventions. There is never a time too early in pregnancy to begin chiropractic care to help promote a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy.