Chiropractic Support for Mother and Baby Throughout Pregnancy and After Birth
My name is Dr. Bari Hartley and I am a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy, perinatal, and pediatric chiropractic care. I was inspired to work with families due to my understanding that our uterine environment, our birth process, and our experiences of the world as children shape who we are, how we experience the world, and ultimately the societal climate. If we can experience and interpret the world with greater ease and love from an early age, we fare better as individuals and as a human species.
A bit of history: I earned my BS in Biochemistry from Binghamton University in 2003, and chose a doctorate degree in chiropractic. After a rigorous course of study and community-based internships in pediatrics/pregnancy/postnatal care, I graduated from Northwestern College of Chiropractic in 2006. I then completed a year-long course of study with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association that focused on the health and treatment of pregnant women and their children. I am certified in the Webster Technique, which aims to restore optimal pelvic positioning for birth, and have taken extended coursework in the Craniosacral care of infants.
It is my honor to support women in the journey to motherhood, and to make a baby’s transition from uterine to outside world as gentle as possible. To foster a peaceful, healthy start for all, I provide free newborn chiropractic checks at home to the mamas I have worked with during pregnancy.
Some of the most regular concerns I encounter during these home visits relate to challenges in breastfeeding and the emotions that accompany that. While chiropractic care for baby and/or mom can help clear many of these issues, I am thankful that there are other skilled practitioners, communities of wise women and mothers, and also this loving resource by Hilary Jacobson, in cases where other guidance is needed.
While most families have heard of chiropractic, many are unaware of how it supports natural health and normal body function. Chiropractic honors the body’s innate intelligence. This is the same force that created you from two cells, that helps you grow, that heals you, and maintains you in health.
This intelligence communicates through your nervous system; it coordinates every bodily function, perceives the world around you, and interprets messages from inside your body. If this communication is compromised by physical, chemical, or emotional blockages, the body’s natural wellness will be affected.
Chiropractors aim to restore and maintain health naturally by providing balance to the nervous system and removing any interference to its function. Most chiropractors work with restoring normal movement to the spine to ensure that the nerves are not being affected where they exit from the spinal column. Factors like intrauterine position/constraint, the birth process itself (whether vaginal or Cesarean), physical traumas, repetitive stress, and overload of chemical or emotional stress can alter the structure of the spine/body and affect neural health in babies and mothers alike.
These spinal alterations can be gently corrected as soon after birth as a family desires. In fact, many pregnancy and pediatric focused chiropractors start their work with baby during pregnancy, by establishing balance in mom’s spine and pelvis. This promotes greater health for mom, unrestricted development for the baby, and an easier birth process. In addition to working with the spine, many pediatric chiropractors also work to establish balance in the cranium (bones of the skull) soon after birth, as these are under important but varying and often uneven pressure during a vaginal birth process.
Bringing ease to mom’s body (physically, neurologically, and emotionally) can help with relaxation, milk production, positional comfort, neck/back tension, and can decrease body/breast tenderness to name a few of the common benefits.
For baby, it can improve latch and suckling, eliminate discrepancy in latch from breast to breast, calm an over-stimulated nervous system, reduce reflux, and soothe colic amongst other benefits.
In truth, rather than treating a list of specific conditions or symptoms, chiropractic aims to restore balance and ease to the body so it can do exactly what it was meant to do naturally—thrive.
Dr. Bari’s message for mothers experiencing breastfeeding grief
Breastfeeding is a primal, natural, seemingly intuitive act, but it is also a dance that needs to be learned by both mama and baby. Some pairs seem to gravitate very naturally into the steps and rhythms. For others, it takes guidance, practice, and patience. Neither situation indicates a greater or lesser level of love or innate ability to parent—it is simply part of your unique story together.
Sometimes, despite a mom’s and baby’s best efforts, breastfeeding isn’t possible and this can be very hard on the heart. Wherever you are on your journey together, know that you are not alone and that support comes in many forms. It goes without saying that moms who receive support from partners, family members, other women, and/or practitioners have an easier time learning and navigating this dance. Never be afraid or ashamed to ask for the help you need.
If you are interested in working with a chiropractor near you who is committed to pregnancy and pediatric care, go to: www.icpa4kids.org
Click on the “Find A Chiropractor” link.