Not every birth is traumatic, but many are. What is a traumatic birth, you ask? The term is subjective to each woman (and baby) who experiences the birth. While one mother may consider a 48 hour natural labor traumatic, another may not. The key is to understand that a traumatic experience depends on how a woman feels about her birth. Were forceps or a vacuum unexpectedly utilized? Was an episiotomy given without consent? Was baby ‘stuck’ at an odd angle for a prolonged period of time? Not one mother will share the same story, but thousands can share their version of traumatic birth.

A birth that doesn’t go as planned can cause post-traumatic stress disorder, postpartum depression, impact the breastfeeding relationship or milk production, effect relationships -including the bond between mother and baby, have physical implications for mother and/or baby, and have lifelong effects that can impact both mother and child.

It is assumed, through little research, that at least 1-2% of all mothers develop post-traumatic stress disorder after a difficult birth. With the lack of ample research done in the field of traumatic birth experiences and their overall impact on mothers and infants, I choose to believe in the word of the mothers and the physical differences I see in these families after their traumatic births. I have witnessed many infants in need of immediate chiropractic care after their challenging entrance to the world, and I have also seen many who have managed to only need a slight adjustment. The thing to remember is that it is important to be seen by a good family chiropractor.

According to a 2004 study, an undefined prolonged second stage (pushing) of labor results in the use forceps. (This is a topic for another post, as there should be several natural things done prior to grabbing forceps.) The use of forceps is linked to facial injuries, cranial distortions, injuries to the brainstem and spinal cord, and subluxation to the infant. They are also linked to meningeal tears and injuries to blood vessels, muscles and ligaments, and the nerves and bone structures. The same study included the possible side effects of utilizing a vacuum for extracting a baby during birth. This is linked to cephalohematomas, lacerations, and subluxation.


Keeping in mind how subluxations tend to run hand-in-hand with sensory processing disorder, adhd, sleep issues, and so many other common chronic problems children are faced with today, it is not a far stretch to consider that a child’s birth may be the origin of these problems.

Erb’s Palsy, “a form of obstetric brachial plexus disorder (A plexus is a network of nerves that supplies a specific area of the body), is an injury that occurs when the nerves in a baby’s upper arm are damaged. It typically affects one or two of every 1,000 babies. The injury usually occurs as a result of a lesion at Erb’s point, the area near the baby’s neck where the fifth and sixth cranial nerves merge to create the upper point of the brachial plexus.” This is caused by one or more of the following, with birth trauma being the most common:

The use of forceps and/or vacuum extraction tools during delivery

Large infant size
Small maternal size
Excessive maternal weight gain
Second stage of labor lasting over an hour
Infants with high birth weight
Infants in the breech position
While chiropractic care may not cure severe cases of birth traumas, it is a tool that may provide help in lessening symptoms, improving the quality of life, and allowing the body to be in its best alignment possible.

Birth trauma is often overlooked by doctors as the cause of chronic problems, and over time, as the child grows, it becomes a thought less considered. But the truth is that birth trauma is real, and the impact it can have on a mother or child needs to be addressed. Psychological therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and other healing techniques should all be considered following an extremely difficult birth.