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After giving birth the woman once again undergoes many changes. Hormonal levels normalize, tissues shrink, and bones and joints shift. Throughout the pregnancy and birthing process, the woman's body has undergone many stressful events and some type of recovery/rehabilitation to reach pre-pregnancy state should be sought. Failure to restore normal biomechanics and tissue health can result in future problems in health and with future pregnancies. Chiropractic adjustments quicken recovery time and assist the body in normalizing overall pelvic and spinal biomechanics.
Birth is generally a traumatic event for the baby. During the process, the body is "squeezed" through a relatively small opening compared to the size of the baby. This can result in serious injury which is not readily apparent, especially to the untrained eye. Chiropractic doctors can assess the spine for injuries which frequently occur during the birthing process. Immediate correction of vertebral subluxations and other abnormalities are necessary to prevent developmental problems for the child later in life.
A common complaint after birth is the excessive weight gained by the mother during pregnancy. While some women do not find it difficult to shed the extra pounds gained during pregnancy, this is generally not the case for most women. Beginning a weight loss and/or fitness program not only improves the mothers health and fitness levels, but also helps mothers deal with the increased energy and psychological demands of raising a family. Many chiropractors find weight loss and health programs an integral part of the treatment program.
It's important for the new mother to understand the significance breast milk has on their baby's health. A great number of studies have consistently shown babies fed breast milk (compared to formula) are significantly healthier with a much lower incidence of sickness from various infections and diseases.
Breast Feeding Reduces Infant Illnesses
A recent study has shown that breast feeding significantly reduces the occurrence of common infant illnesses such as respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, ear infections, and gastrointestinal disorders. In the 2 year study of 977 babies, a community program was implemented which urged women to breastfeed their infants rather than use baby formula. The program resulted in a significant increase in breastfed babies - 54.6%, up from 16.4%. During this time, the number of babies who developed pneumonia in the first year of life declined by 33% and the cases of gastroenteritis decreased by 15%.
According to researchers, their results suggest that "breast milk itself or the process of breast feeding provides protection against infant illnesses." The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies for at least one year, "and longer if mutually desired by the mother and child."
Breast milk is better for premature infants
Experts believe breast milk contains a number of immune-boosting compounds which "jump-start" the infants immune system and assist the infant in fighting off infections. In this study, researchers found that preterm infants fed breast milk developed significantly fewer infections. 212 preterm, very low birth weight infants (under 3 pounds) were fed either breast milk or formula. After adjusting for all other factors, researchers determined that infants fed breast milk decreased their odds of infection by 57% - a dramatic decrease. Also, many immune system agents normally found in breast milk are in higher concentrations in the breast milk of mothers who deliver prematurely compared with mothers who delivery at term.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has long advocated the use of breast milk as the primary food source of newborn, full-term infants. In 1997, this advisory was extended to cover premature infants.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, women should breast feed until at least 1 year of age and should not feed infants under 1 year cow's milk. Doing this can lead to a deficiency of iron. However, most baby formulas now contain added iron to prevent this from occurring.
Vitamin A (retinol) is available in liquid form and is also added to most baby formulas. Occasional supplementation in infants and children is recommended if deficiency is suspected. Research has shown a single dose of 100,000 IU (International Units) in children under 12 months of age and 200,000 IU in children over 12 months of age can reduce the risk of death from measles and, according to a study on Brazilian children, can help treat severe diarrhea.
Vitamin B is passed to the fetus and to the baby (via breast milk) by the mother. Thus, if the mother is deficient so to can the baby become deficient. In the case of mothers with vitamin B deficiencies (more common in vegetarians and vegans), supplementation may be necessary for mother and child.
Vitamin D is another vitamin in which there may be a deficiency. Generally, a deficiency is most common when the mother is a vegetarian and/or lacks adequate sun exposure. In both cases, supplementation of the mother and infant is recommended. Also, mothers who breastfeed may spend 15 minutes in the sunlight daily to increase their vitamin D levels.
In some infants and neonates, including those with certain malabsorption disorders, vitamin K deficiency may occur. This can lead to unexpected hemorrhagic disease (bleeding). Often, babies are give intramuscular vitamin K shots at birth to prevent this condition.
Zinc deficiencies can occur in infants whose mothers are deficient in zinc or if there exists a problem with zinc uptake from the mammary glands in the mother's breasts. Zinc deficiencies are also common in premature infants and children with malabsorption syndromes. Zinc deficiencies are generally not found in infants who breastfeed, assuming the mother is not deficient. Signs of deficiency include: