On pins and needles
As she watches her husband bike up the drive with their three 22-month-old girls in tow, Hester Vermaak of Ithaca, New York, recalls a time when the ride was not so smooth. Vermaak’s premature triplets suffered from acute reflux, and their parents suffered right along with them—feedings could take two-and-a-half hours, followed by a half-hour expressing breast milk, after which it was time to start over again. Two of the girls refused to eat more than the tiniest increments; the third ate voraciously in an attempt to calm her reflux, only to pay for it later with increased spitting up. The babies were in so much pain that they exhibited developmental delays, not wanting to move, not tolerating tummy time, and not sleeping well. Desperate, Vermaak met with several pediatricians, a gastrointestinal specialist and a feeding therapist. When all other avenues seemed to be exhausted, Vermaak decided to take the advice of her babies’ feeding therapist and try infant acupuncture.
The results were astonishing. After the very first treatment, the daughter who had experienced only one bowel movement per week since birth was dirtying a diaper daily. All three began to eat better, take in larger amounts of food, and sleep longer. After several treatments over the course of a couple months, the triplets were weaned from their reflux medication, and they were well rested so they were able to move more and develop more typically. “We finally saw the light of day,” says Vermaak. “I thought, ‘I can do this, my kids will be OK.’”
All in align
When Lois Howard of Cedar Hills, Utah, delivered her seventh (yes, seventh!) baby at home, he was in the breech position, resulting in what Howard calls “a difficult delivery, for him and for me.” She could see that her newborn was in a lot of pain—his tiny face was tense and his hip was noticeably discolored. At her midwife’s suggestion, Howard received a visit from a chiropractor trained in infant chiropractic. Says Howard, “He took this little babe that was 14 hours old and did a little muscle testing and a few adjustments, and you could see the tension leaving the baby. Not only that, but his hip was realigned, and most of the discoloration disappeared. I picked him up and he felt more natural, calm and happy; he went right to sleep.”
Another chiropractic believer, Lilian Charapich of Oak Harbor, Washington, battled her baby’s reflux for months before taking him in for a chiropractic adjustment. She recounts her experience: “After the first adjustment, my baby didn’t need his [reflux] meds anymore and he was a remarkably happier baby. After two sessions at the chiropractor, he stopped spitting up altogether.” She adds, “I will definitely take my next baby to the chiropractor in the first week after birth.”
You’re so kneady
For the do-it-yourselfers out there, infant massage offers major perks. In addition to nurturing the parent-child bond, infant massage has been said to improve circulation, respiration and digestion; regulate hormones; decrease discomfort; and promote healthy sleep habits. Massage will stimulate your baby’s senses, make her more aware of her body, and help you better recognize your baby’s needs. No matter if your baby is hours old or close to her first birthday, you can add massage to your routine and reap the benefits. Set aside 20 minutes or more, but be prepared to cut the session short if baby becomes squirmy or seems bothered.
To get started, create a calming environment, first by choosing a time of day when your baby is apt to be alert but calm (after a bath often works), and then by laying her on a clean, comfy surface, perhaps with soothing music and lowered lights. If you use a lubricant, choose a natural, edible oil without added perfumes.
As you gently massage your infant from her core out to her limbs, make eye contact and speak to her in a calm voice. You’ll both enjoy the bonding time, and you may find that the massage relaxes you as much as it does your babe.