Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Best Kept Secret to a Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the greatest examples of the human body’s innate intelligence.  The miracle that starts with a sperm and egg and ends with a trillion cells working together cohesively nine months later is truly amazing.

Unquestionably, it is a special responsibility to carry a child in the womb and it should not be taken lightly.  It is important to support the process of pregnancy as the expectant mother’s body goes through numerous changes and the developing baby moves through various stages of maturity.  An enhanced concentration on proper nutrition, for instance, is imperative.  The parents provide the cellular blueprint for the child, but the cells produced for building the baby, so to speak, come from the food consumed by the mother.  If mom eats poorly, then so does the baby. 

Supplementing healthy eating habits with ample hydration, vitamins, and essential oils ensures that mother and baby are fueling their bodies in a manner supportive of a wonderful pregnancy and birthing experience.  Yet, the single most underrated benefit for moms-to-be and their babies in the womb is Upper Cervical Chiropractic. 
If we concern ourselves with the quality of the nutrients that we put into our systems, then we must be equally mindful of how well our systems are working.  Though the Chiropractic profession, at large, has mainly become an alternative niche for pain relief, there are still Chiropractors whose fundamental goal is to assess and manage how well a person’s body is functioning.  Thermographic imaging, known to most of the public as a non-invasive breast cancer screening device, was developed by an Upper Cervical Chiropractor and has been used by Upper Cervical Chiropractors for over 90 years as a tool to detect abnormal function.  The inner workings of the organ systems are not black and white processes; they do not just work at 100% or 0%.  Every organ, muscle, and tissue in the body is at the mercy of our nervous system, which is designed to function optimally, but often merely functions adequately. 

The nervous system is run by the brain and the brainstem.  The brain is in constant communication with the rest of the body.  The brainstem, like a cell tower in a phone network, routes the communication between the brain and the body.  Unfortunately, the brainstem is the most common area where neurologic function is disrupted due to its position inside one of the body’s most delicate structural areas.  Exiting a small opening in your skull, the brainstem sits in the ring of the top bone in your neck.  Misalignment at that area where the head and neck meet commonly occurs during the traumas that we experience throughout life.  In Upper Cervical Chiropractic, this condition is called a brainstem subluxation.  Compensatory misalignments in the rest of the spinal column frequently follow, potentially interfering with the transmission of critical information along the vast array of nerves in the brain-to-body network. 

It is vital that moms-to-be ensure that their bodies are operating at full capacity.  Just as the baby is dependent upon Mom’s nutrition, it is also dependent upon Mom’s nervous system.  The basic flow chart of life is as follows: the brain stores the information, the brainstem directs the information down the spinal cord and along the nerves out to the organs, which produce cells and hormones.  The brain needs to maintain an open line of communication with the organs that make the cells and hormones, as over or under production can greatly influence internal actions.  Digestion, for example, results from the synergy between several different organs.  If normal functions are disrupted, the digestive process may be delayed or weakened. 

Essentially, if Mom’s body works optimally, then pregnancy should occur optimally.  There is, thus, never a time more important to evaluate the function of the human body than when a woman is pregnant.  If we view neurologic activity as a game of percentages, then it is crucial that our bodies work at or near 100% of their full capabilities.  70% of normal also means 30% abnormal.  Abnormal communication between the brain and the body leads to abnormal things happening within the brain and the body.  If Mom’s body is not functioning properly, then it will not be just her who is impacted, but her baby too. 

Disturbances in neurologic activity may affect the reproductive system during all phases, particularly as it pertains to making hormones such as progesterone - the managerial hormone of the reproductive cycle.  Progesterone prepares a female to be able to nourish a fertilized egg by stimulating the release of several proteins.  When deficient in progesterone, a woman cannot accept the egg and the menstrual cycle continues.  After conception, its job is to organize the other hormones (estrogen, et al) which then help grow a normal fetus.  It also lowers Mom's immune response so that her natural defenses do not recognize the baby as a foreign intruder and relaxes mom's uterine muscles to make room for the baby.  Without the proper level of progesterone, the biological progression of pregnancy can become chaotic.

The brain is intrinsically programmed to send the right message at the right time.  Like a super computer, the brain holds all the information and, as needed, releases instructions for when and how to use it.  Progesterone is produced in the adrenal glands, ovaries, and in the placenta (during pregnancy).  It is the brain’s ability to communicate with those organs that fundamentally dictates hormone production.  If a brainstem subluxation or any compensatory misalignment occurs, the brain may not be able to fully relay the information necessary for progesterone and other hormones to be made in the quantity required to conceive and then maintain a normal pregnancy. Upper Cervical Chiropractors identify and gently corrects these misalignments.  The upper cervical spine should be handled very delicately and the subluxation corrected very specifically.

Of course, there is also the impact of pregnancy on Mom’s structural frame to consider.  The average weight gain over nine months is between 25 to 35 pounds and, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the baby, may result in varying levels of discomfort.  The most common reason for these aches and pains is not the weight gain itself, however, but a lack of structural balance that changes the way that their bodies are positioned to carry that weight. 

A body that is lacking in structural balance is a body under constant strain.  If the head is not level due to a structural imbalance, the body will naturally adjust to restore equilibrium.  For example, a shoulder will raise, a hip will drop, and a leg will appear to be longer than the other. If left unchecked and uncorrected, other parts of the body will also work to compensate for the basic structural imbalance, forcing the body into a constant state of repair.  This is only amplified by the additional weight of pregnancy, especially in the latter stages when the baby's head presses down on a woman's back, legs, and buttocks.  There is a natural amount of physical stress to endure during pregnancy, but when Mom’s body is already compensating and already has added tension on her joints (from head-to-toe), it creates an unnecessary additional issue.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic is important to help stabilize the spine, hips, and pelvis by keeping it all balanced, allowing expectant mothers to enjoy the process of pregnancy more than endure it.  Maintaining structural balance removes tension on the ligaments that support the uterus, reduces intrauterine constraint, and maximizes the chances of an easier labor and delivery for the mother and child.  Along with ensuring that the brainstem and nervous system are able to properly coordinate internal functions, Upper Cervical Chiropractic is an invaluable asset for moms-to-be.  It is one of the best kept secrets in healthcare.

Thinking good things for you as always,

Dr. Chad