We are so excited to welcome Dr. Amanda Metzger of Healthy Beginnings Chiropractic as our neighbor at the Tampa Breastfeeding Center. She brings a wealth of knowledge and compassion to her work as an experienced chiropractor and we are so lucky to have her just down the hall. You can read more about Dr. Metzger on her website here: https://www.healthybeginningschirofl.com/about
Before Dr. Metzger officially opens her doors in November, we wanted to provide an interview so Tampa families who haven’t had an opportunity to work with her yet, can learn about her work, chiropractic benefits and so much more. We are so grateful for her time to answer our many questions. Take a read below:
Dr. Metzer, how does birth impact the infant and how can chiropractic care help?
Dr. Metzger: When it comes to birth; this is the very first physical, chemical and emotional stress that we encounter as we are welcomed into the world! While it is a normal process; due to the increase of stress in our world, interventions in the labor process and even subluxations of the mother’s pelvis during pregnancy, it can have a major impact in the newborn’s health.
Backing up to that word “subluxation.” Subluxations are what chiropractors are trained to detect and correct with our adjustments. It is when the spine shifts or misaligns with the vertebra above and below, leading to interference to the nervous system. The nervous system is our brain and spinal cord (central), as well as all the nerves that go to our muscles, organs, glands and tissues (peripheral). It is how our brain and body communicate with one another. If there is interference to the nervous system, then it is like a light on a dimmer switch, as I like to say. It decreases that communication and when left undetected leads to certain manifestations in our health.
Commonly with newborns, it can manifest as things like latching difficulty, sleep issues, constipation, immune challenges, fussiness, gassiness, reflux….and the list goes on. When we remove these subluxations the body has the ability to heal and with gentle, safe and specific chiropractic care these symptoms tend to disappear.
How does chiropractic help breastfeeding infants specifically? What are some reasons you work on both the mother and baby?
Dr. Metzger: When it comes to breastfeeding specifically, I really focus on the upper cervical spine and cranial bones. We have 12 cranial nerves and 5 of them innervate organs for sucking, swallowing and breathing. Some research has shown that 99% of infants are born with upper cervical subluxations, just due to the nature of the birthing process (whether vaginal or cesarean section). So, I am on a mission to check as many babies as I can for subluxations to help combat any latching issues from a neurological standpoint.
I absolutely love working with both mother and baby as early as possible, whether that is in preconception, pregnancy, or after birth. I love the quote, “The best time to start chiropractic care is birth and the second time is now!” So, it is never too late for a Healthy Beginning!Working with what we call the “dyad” is very powerful. Mom and baby are so intimately intertwined and we have noticed that when both are under care together symptoms tend to improve even more quickly than with only one under care alone! I have also been a witness to mom’s milk supply increasing when she is under care, since we help the body function at its best. I am constantly blown away by how amazing the human body is at healing and what my patients tell me they have noticed new and different after an adjustment!
Can you describe some specific pediatric conditions you have worked with or specialize in? For example: torticollis, tongue tie, plagiocephaly, etc.
Dr. Metzger: Besides the previous pediatric conditions that I have listed that I have helped with, I have lovingly gotten the nickname “The Sleep and Poop Queen.” And I can explain why this is. There are 2 parts of our autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic, is what you may have heard as our “fight or flight” response, while the parasympathetic is our “rest or digest” response. One is not better than the other, we need both in order to survive, but most of us are primed/live more in our sympathetic nervous system with the amount of stress we encounter on a daily basis. When I adjust, I also focus on calming the nervous system down and allowing children (and adults) to get more into their parasympathetic nervous system. Therefore, they sleep better, digest better and have better bowel function!
I have also helped countless children avoid tube surgery, not get sick as often, eliminate torticollis, improve plagiocephaly (sometimes completely, depending on the severity of the case), tongue ties (can help eliminate the need for revision or decrease the amount needing to be revised), decrease seasonal allergies, help improve asthma, focus issues from ADHD, balance/coordination issues, soothe colic, improve seizures, behavior issues, jaundice, and many others. I can say that, since the nervous system controls all of your bodily functions. While I am not technically treating these issues, they do get better when the neurological communication that I have been talking about is restored. The human body is amazing! An analogy I use for demonstrating our ability to self-heal is having a cut on your hand. You don’t have to think about it, but your body heals itself, right?! So cool!
When is it appropriate to seek chiropractic care i.e. what are some symptoms that warrant chiropractic care?
Dr. Metzger: When it comes to when to go to a chiropractor, like I have said before, the sooner the better if you want to experience your life in high definition! Your nervous system is how you experience the world around you. If you get good input, you can give good output. So, if your brain gets good information from your peripheral nervous system, then you can interpret it correctly and have an appropriate response. Kind of like eating healthy right? If you put good fuel in, you get good effort out!
Who wouldn’t want to experience optimal function for their children and themselves?! I personally can’t go a week without getting checked for subluxations. Chiropractic is not just about fixing acute issues; it is mostly about prevention and optimal function! The short answer is that everyone benefits from seeing a chiropractor, whether they have a certain condition or not.
And finally, can you describe what pediatric chiropractic and cranial adjustments look like?
Dr. Metzger: Pediatric adjustments vary greatly from what you may be thinking: the typical twisting, popping and cracking.
When you go to a trained pediatric and prenatal chiropractor, we are taught to modify for the more ligamentously lax population we treat. Newborns especially do not need much more pressure than you would use to check the ripeness of a tomato. I also use a tool called an Activator. It looks and sounds a little intimidating, but it is used on the lowest setting (I make sure the parents feel it before I use it on their child, so they understand) and graduated up as the child grows.
With cranial work, I gently massage apart the sutures that may be ridged/overlapped from the cranial molding process during birth and apply pressure to certain cranial bones in the mouth (while wearing a glove) to encourage gentle movement. We have the greatest ability to move the cranial bones before the anterior and posterior fontanelles are closed (2-3 months) and can still make good progress until 2 years when the anterior fontanelle finally closes, as the child’s brain is adult size by that point. A misconception is that you can no longer improve cranial bones after this point, but they are never fused, so minor adjustments can still be made.
Children do so much growing and changing in the first 2 years of life and are going through all of their developmental milestones. This is a vital time for them to be checked to ensure their brain is on track for optimal development as they get older. Skipped or altered milestones are a sign of problems with the brain that will manifest in other ways later. It is best to address these things early and get them the interventions they need. That is why I am so big on having great practitioners to refer to, like lactation consultants, CST’s, PT’s, OT’s, dentists, speech pathologists, pediatricians and many more!