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My Experience with Chiropractic, Yoga, and Massage for Babies

By Divine Child Yoga // Christie Gibertini

WED MAR 09, 2022

My Experience with Chiropractic, Yoga, and Massage for Babies

Today I am sharing some reasons why chiropractic can be beneficial for small babies, how yoga and massage are wonderful compliments to chiropractic care, and how both have been super beneficial for my four month old!

Now I know many people either believe in chiropractic care or they don’t. For me it has had huge benefits, especially throughout my pregnancies. As a teenager, I was in a very serious car accident with my family, and though thankfully we all walked away fine, I have dealt with back pain and other injuries as a result since that accident 15 years ago. Of course yoga has helped tremendously, but I can get thrown off pretty easily and always feel better after an adjustment.

I wanted to dive into how it can help infants, as I brought my second son, Gino, into my chiropractor within just a few days of his birth at my midwife’s recommendation. I had been seeing Dr. Clark throughout my pregnancy, which really helped to keep my pelvis nicely aligned for the birth and kept my body in check with all the changes and shifts that come with pregnancy. I will dive into prenatal chiropractic care in another post!

So firstly, why would my midwife suggest I take Gino in right away? Well for starters, he was a big baby! He was born at home at nine pounds even. Now nine pounds may not seem like a super large baby (I know SUPERMAMAS that have birthed close to 11 pounders!), but for me him being that size was definitely unexpected! My husband and I were each under 7lbs, and our first born Vinny was a skinny 6lb 11oz. So when Gino came at 41+1weeks, still covered in cheesy vernix and chunky baby rolls, we were all shocked! The midwife seemed to think he was tight and pointed out the stiffness in his neck, and since he was a pretty big baby for me suggested I get him checked out as soon as I was up for it.

Now to be fair, I was way larger this pregnancy than my first, and if you know me, I am pretty petite. It was safe to say that this baby would be larger than Vinny, as I was all baby and seriously looked like I had a beach ball under my shirt! Even early on in the pregnancy I looked so much further along than I actually was, and by early October literally everyone thought I was ready to pop. I mean I was, but Gino still hung out in there for 6 more weeks!!

All of this to say, he was pretty crammed in there!! I could feel it, I had so much pressure for weeks and since I’m not very tall, he just kept growing forward and my belly was totally spilling out. I had a lot of back, hip, and pubic pain as a result. When I went a week past my due date, my midwife suggested I use my baby wrap to tie my belly back, as she could tell he was big and needed the help getting more upright to get the pressure down on my cervix rather than tipping so far forward. It did the trick, and he finally arrived after a day or two of tying that big ole belly in!

If you think about the baby's position in utero, they are obviously in very tight quarters, and especially if they are a large baby, there is really even less wiggle room. Babies can end up in wonky positions as a result. You can imagine after spending 9 months on the inside, that position they get so comfortable in (not so much for us mamas😅) translates to the outside, and shows up as a misaligned spine or perhaps a head that favors a certain way. This repetitive positioning creates stress in the body, just like you feel when you spend days sitting at your desk working and start to feel tension and tightness in your low back and hips. This is what happens in those tiny baby bodies in utero as well!

Chiropractic helps to find and release those areas of tension and bring awareness and attention to them. At Gino’s first chiro appointment, he actually seemed pretty well balanced structurally, but by his next appointment 2 months later it was obvious that there was lots of tension & tightness on his left side, and that he favored his right because of it. It was noticeable to me at that point that he didn’t like looking to his right (left side of his neck was tight) and he didn’t like using his left arm pushing up in tummy time (from tension and tightness in the left shoulder).

I have a lot of experience watching the way bodies move, I am a yoga instructor after all! So to me, this was a definite imbalance and interesting to note when looking carefully. Many parents may not know to really watch for this kind of thing, or why it really matters anyway!

These preferences definitely start to show up as the child develops and grows more, so you can tell by the time they are involved in sports or other play that they favor one side by not using the one with more tightness or imbalance. I spent about 10 years as a gymnastics coach, and I would see this kind of thing all the time! Young kids whose bodies were stiff as a board and had the hardest time with coordination because of it. This is where yoga comes in too, as it is an excellent practice to balance both sides and incorporate stretching and body awareness (for babies, tots, kids and into adulthood!)

Sure, some people and kids seem more naturally flexible than others. But it does make you wonder whether early intervention with chiropractic, yoga, and massage can help alleviate that stiffness before it even really starts. Even with my own kids, I think Vinny may have gotten more of my flexibility and Gino probably my husband’s not-so-much flexibility!

After seeing Dr. Clark again and noticing all the tight spots in Gino’s hips, back, and neck, I got to work! Lucky guy having a Baby & Toddler yoga instructor as a mama! I started bringing him in weekly for adjustments, and daily at home practicing baby yoga that he LOVES, and also giving daily baby massages. My toddler Vinny even likes getting in on the massage action and has me do him after! His little body even seems so tight, all those growth spurts and constant falling and crashing into things!🙈 I honestly haven’t brought him to the chiropractor yet, but I am considering it now that I have seen how much it has helped little Gino!

I asked the chiropractor what would have caused this stiffness in baby Gino, because of course I felt so bad like it was something I had done or could have caused! But nope, just again that he was so cramped on the inside that his body just seemed to sort of be stuck in the same position for awhile!😆 I definitely had to help him with yoga and massage to create the body awareness so he could learn that he could stretch and move his arms and legs!

In my case, the baby’s tightness was quickly alleviated by working on stretches, yoga, massage, changing positioning while nursing, being intentional with movements and ways I picked him up and held him, and working with him during floor time. It sounds like a lot, but it was all just engaging with my baby, following his cues (babies are the best teachers after all!), and having fun along the way! It was so exciting to see improvement and know that what I was doing was helping. I love to share my Baby & Me yoga classes with parents so that they can learn these tools to do with their babies at home as well!

There are lots of other ways in which chiropractic care can be beneficial to babies. Another biggie is the birth process and how it impacts babies. Labor is difficult, not only on the mother of course, but on that tiny little human as well! The pressure put on a baby during contractions is immense. If you think of how long some labors are, that’s a lot of pressure on the baby's head, neck, and spine for a lot of time!

As they emerge, babies must rotate the head, and also maneuver the shoulders through the birth canal. If the shoulders get stuck, a doctor may pull on the baby’s head or use vacuum or forceps, putting a lot of pressure and stress on the neck and spine. C-section births also put pressure on the baby's spine as the baby is lifted out, and this often occurs after mother and baby have already been through hours of contractions, labor, and pushing! Chiropractic can ease tension, strain, and trauma put on the body during the birth process (and for mama too!)

Now one thing I want to address too is that a chiropractic adjustment on a baby is GENTLE! You may imagine that baby is being jostled around and getting cracked, but that is totally not the case! It looks like just a little wiggle along the spine with the fingertips. Baby may seem uncomfortable being in a different position for a moment, but it is short lived for the benefits received. It is however important to see a doctor that is trained and specialized in working with infants and young children to be sure they are getting the proper, gentle care. Babies bones are also still forming and developing, are mostly cartilage, and chiropractic helps encourage strong bone development early on. The alignments given in infancy can support proper development of the curves in the spine, posture, and overall health.

Many other benefits can be linked to chiropractic care in babies, including relief of colic symptoms, acid reflux, and gas. Chiropractic can stimulate nerve flow to the digestive tract, helping alleviate indigestion and colic. Breastfeeding issues may also be helped with chiropractic care, as babies may struggle to get their head and chin lined up for optimal nursing if there is tension, tightness, or strain in the neck, jaw, and shoulders. The discomfort can be helped with stretching, yoga, massage, and chiropractic, and can surely help save a breastfeeding relationship!

Chiropractic can help optimize the immune system, as the nervous system is stimulated to help fight off illness throughout the body. Balance throughout all systems of the body creates overall well-being, and yoga and massage also stimulates all areas of the body to create harmony and health throughout.

When you consider the body as a whole system working together, it is clear to see that the holistic approach from chiropractic and yoga work together fantastically to set up a strong and healthy foundation from the very start. Though it may sound unusual to bring a baby in for chiropractic care and yoga class, I think it is a great start for those tiny bodies to grow from a place of alignment and balance.

In Gino’s case, after just a few weeks of visiting Dr. Clark and at home practice with baby yoga and baby massage, he is like a new baby! I can see such a difference in his physical posture, like using both sides equally in tummy time, looking to each side more comfortably, more movement and engagement with his arms and legs, and more body awareness as he is starting to roll around!

I’m happy to say that working with him with yoga and massage has definitely helped him physically, and we have so much fun together. He is too cute and happy, making the adorable cooing baby sounds and getting excited for certain moves! I can tell there are massage areas and yoga poses and songs he likes most, and it is such an amazing bonding experience for us to do together.

I am so busy between being a stay at home mom, engaging and playing with my 2.5 year old, nursing baby Gino, cleaning, cooking, teaching yoga, and working to grow my yoga business, that taking the time at the end of the day to do yoga and massage time with baby Gino is such an amazing slow down. It gives us the time to be present without all the distractions, and it warms my heart to be doing something that is so beneficial for him and his future wellness. As I mentioned too, little Vinny also likes to get in on the yoga and massage fun and he loves it too!

I absolutely love sharing this practice with other families too! I teach Baby & Me workshops every last Wednesday of the month, where you will learn many yoga poses and massage techniques to practice with your little one. I also incorporate some much needed yoga poses and breath work for us parents as well! And if you are looking for a chiropractor in the La Porte, IN area for yourself or your little ones, I highly recommend visiting Dr. Sandee Clark! Check her out at www.clarksfamilychiropractic.com.

I will add of course that I am by no means a chiropractor or medical provider in any way, so please take empowered responsibility for your own and your family’s health. I am simply sharing this information as a mom that wanted to learn more on how chiropractic would benefit my baby, and thought this information and my experience was worth sharing with you! Please consult your care providers for direct questions related to your family’s health and what you are looking to achieve.

Thanks for reading, I will be sure to keep you updated on baby Gino’s progress along the way as we continue chiropractic care and continued yoga practice and baby massage techniques! Also, check out Divine Child Yoga’s Facebook page for some fun baby yoga & massage demos as well! I will be sharing more on this page on these techniques that have been working for us and what you can expect to see in class. Hope to see you there soon!

With Gratitude,

Christie

© Christie Trksak Gibertini | Divine Child Yoga LLC | www.divinechildyoga.com