Stress And Breech Babies: The Secret Connection

Heart photos like these are cute, but usually mean breech babies.

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Doctors have noticed a huge spike in breech babies since the pandemic. Is it stress-related, or something as simple as too much sitting? The answer is a combination for sure. If your baby is breech, it is pretty important to figure out which group you belong to. Many moms get bodywork done and the baby does a lot of flip-flopping: Head down, head back up, head down, head back up. What in the world is going on here?

Time for some Frontal Lobe 101: These little buddies in the brain control 2 things I care about as a chiropractor. The first is calming down the fight or flight response. If the brain is going to survive a traumatic situation, this is a handy response to go on auto-pilot. The second is to relax the flexor muscles. Think of a baby in the fetal position, all balled up. Babies don’t really have active frontal lobes; when they activate, the babies open up so they can be upright 2 legged human beings getting into the silverware drawer.

The Brain in Times of Stress

These same structures are hammered by stress. They shut down. That means we will see a mom who is experiencing stress show us the same signs as if she’s running from wolves. Her eyes will stay dilated when a light shines in her eyes. Her heart rate and breathing will be fast. Her muscles will be tight, pulling her head forward and increasing the tone in her arms and legs, kind of like she’s protecting herself. These aren’t the only tight muscles that matter if she’s pregnant, though!

Pregnancy Specific Muscles: Tying Stress to Breech Babies

Moms carrying breech babies need to know this. If the flexors include muscles like the piriformis and psoas, and these muscles have higher tone because mom’s frontal lobes are activating, then she has a problem. The piriformis muscle, located under the glutes, has connections to the cervix and uterus through fascia. The psoas is a long muscle that borders the uterus and spans the pelvis. Most body workers stretch or strengthen tight muscles. That makes sense, right? But what if the reason the muscles are tight is because the part of the brain that controls them is shut off? Well, what that means is you can stretch or rub until the cows come home, but if you don’t address the source of the issue then you have potentially set up the flip-flop situation.

2 Simple Fixes

  1. Find yourself the right chiropractor. There are general chiropractors and ones who focus on this work. I’ve personally trained hundreds of them, and they know the difference between a tight muscle and one being told to be tight by a misfiring brain.
  2. Brain hack yourself. There are sneaky apps out there that can rewire your brain for you. I recommend them all the time (Binaural Beats or Brainwaves are my favorites). They work by sending a sound frequency in one ear that is slightly different than the other. Your brain makes up the difference. These frequencies are the ones that scientists discover when they put electrodes on the brain and have people meditate, sleep, or relax. They discovered we can actually shift our own brain waves by inducing the right frequency through sound vibration.
    Pro Tip: This only works if you use a headset, ear buds, or air pods. Playing through a stereo or your phone doesn’t achieve the same effect.
    Pro Tip 2: You can listen to whatever else you want over the hum, like a podcast or music. The app doesn’t have to be loud for it to work. It just needs to vibrate your eardrum.

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