Healing From Birth Trauma

Injuries to the head and neck during birth can affect children's nervous systems
March 20, 2015 Updated: March 20, 2015

Did you ever consider that your child’s birth could affect his or her health?  If not, you are not alone, as most people have never heard of birth trauma.

Birth trauma that involves the head or spine can have a significant impact on the nervous system. The nervous system controls all functions in the body with electrical impulses sent to and from the brain to every organ, tissue, and cell.  These impulses travel via the brainstem, spinal cord, and nerves. Thus any damage or interference to the brainstem, spinal cord, or nerves can cause children to develop health problems.

The most common symptoms of birth-related nerve dysfunction I see in my practice are irritability, trouble breathing, skin irritation, difficulty nursing, and torticollis, which is where an infant’s neck gets stuck in one position.

Despite that birth trauma is not well-known, it is common in the United States.

If left uncorrected, these symptoms can turn into other health concerns such as indigestion, constipation, attention disorders, and allergies.

Most recently in my practice, a 3-year-old girl came in with symptoms of constipation, which she’d had on and off for over a year.  I found areas of nerve dysfunction around her lower back and sacrum, which were likely due in part to her birth process, and small bumps and bruises that she got learning to walk.

Over time, the accumulation of these minor injuries caused her spine to misalign and disrupted the nerve signals in her entire body.

Once I determined where the dysfunction was, I started to help her body get back into balance. I used a combination of several gentle hands-on pediatric chiropractic techniques to realign the small bones of the spine to remove the interference the misalignment had been causing. Her body corrected the “short circuit” and her constipation improved by 80 percent in just a couple months.

Common Occurrence

Despite that birth trauma is not well-known, it is common in the United States. Research by osteopathic doctor, Viola Frymann, shows that an average of 80 percent of children born in the United States suffer strain around the head and neck as a result of the birthing process.

The biggest surprise is that these children’s births are not emergency births; they are often normal hospital births.

A number of factors can contribute to trauma, such as a long labor, the use of contraction-inducing aids like Pitocin.

Dr. Abraham Towbin, a neuropathologist from Harvard Medical School and Department of Pathology, states, “The birth process even under optimal, controlled conditions is potentially a traumatic event for the fetus.”

A number of factors can contribute to trauma, such as a long labor, the use of contraction-inducing aids like Pitocin, the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, C-section delivery, and a doctor pulling or twisting the infant, especially holding the head and neck area.  

Never Too Late to Treat

So how can you know if your child is suffering from the residual effects of birth trauma?

Get your child checked by a pediatric or family wellness chiropractor. Chiropractors are certified holistic doctors who are specially trained to determine if there are areas of pressure or dysfunction in the nervous system due to spinal misalignments.

Birth trauma or other life stresses, such as falling from a crib or learning how to walk, can cause spinal misalignments and “electrical short circuits,” Chiropractic-specific physical adjustments can many times help the body reverse and heal from these.

As with any medical concern, the sooner birth trauma is addressed, the easier it is to correct.  However, it is never too late because the body has a great healing ability.

Dr. Shelby Simon is a pediatric and family wellness chiropractor certified in the Webster technique, which helps realign the pelvis so expectant mothers can have their best birth.  She currently practices at The Well, in Manhattan. To contact her, email drshelbysimon@gmail.com