Before I had my first child, I had no idea that chiropractors treated infants and children. Honestly, if my babies hadn’t had tongue ties, I probably still wouldn’t know. Alas, both my children had to have procedures to correct ties, and the doctors who performed them along with the lactation consultants who helped me recommended following up with chiropractic care. I was a little unsure, so I found myself doing quite a bit of googling to make sure it was safe. In the hopes of helping another parent in a similar position, I decided to interview my favorite pediatric chiropractor in Massachusetts, Dr. Shannon Hegarty from Hegarty Family Chiropractic, to provide answers to some of the questions that I wanted answered before I brought in my newborn to be adjusted. If you’re in the same position, I really hope this interview is helpful!
What made you decide to become a chiropractor?
All my life I said I wanted to be two things, a mom and a doctor. The mom part never changed, but over the years the type of doctor did many times. One thing was always consistent: I knew I wanted to be able to work with moms and kids. It wasn’t until I was in high school working at a chiropractic office and saw how much chiropractic could help people without the use of drugs or surgery that I knew it was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.
Can you talk a little bit about your credentials? How long have you been practicing?
I have multiple additional credentials beyond just my DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) that I use with a lot of my patients. I have taken many additional classes in pediatric care ranging from general pediatric adjusting to working with kids who have special needs like autism to treating both kids and adults who are athletes and going through rehab for athletic injuries both bodily and brain (concussion).
I also have credentials in Webster Technique which is a specific technique for working with pregnant women to help keep their pelvis open so that it can continue to expand and grow as baby grows. Another technique I practice which I use on most patients is called CranioSacral Technique—this technique allows me to help calm down the nervous system by providing space for the central nervous system to flow freely without interference from joint dysfunction.
What do you think are some common misconceptions about pediatric chiropractic care?
I still hear from people all the time who are surprised that there is such a thing as pediatric chiropractic care. There are many specialties within the chiropractic profession, and most aren’t well-known. But one thing I would urge people to look for when seeking out a chiropractor for their kids is someone who does have additional training. A very common misconception is that treating kids and babies is just treating tiny adults, but that is not the case at all—there are certain things to look for and certain ways to adjust them. Kids in general tend to bounce back so quickly from an injury that often times I am see them with a bit more frequency but for much shorter durations.
Additionally, it is important to know that the way children are adjusted needs to be much gentler and easier, with much less force than that used in adjusting adults. People will often tell me that their kids won’t sit still to be adjusted but when working with children I get down onto their level and we “play” while they are getting adjusted. I urge parents to bring in a favorite toy so they can get their adjustment as well, and it often helps ease their children’s mind when they see Minnie or Mickey get adjusted just like they will be.
What kinds of issues can a trained prenatal and pediatric chiropractor help with?
There are a myriad of things that seeing a chiropractor can help with. For kids, some of the most common things for which parents seek treatment are colic, latching issues when breastfeeding, and torticollis. A few things that parents don’t usually think of that chiropractic care can help with are ear infections, sinus issues, allergies, and concussions.
Chiropractors can help pregnant women with the general aches and pains associated with pregnancy, such as lower back pain and sciatica, and also things like migraines or balance and vertigo issues that may arise while pregnant. Since pregnancy is such a sensitive time for women, chiropractic care is a wonderful tool to utilize because women can be assured that care and respite from their pain won’t cause any of the possible harms that can come to babies as a result of some traditional medicines and pills. Chiropractic care is a completely noninvasive form of care that offers relief without the worry of adding something into the body that could cause with any type of ill effect.
What should prenatal and postnatal clients keep in mind when looking for a chiropractor for themselves, their babies, or their children?
It is important to know that while all chiropractors can adjust children and pregnant women, there are additional courses that we as chiropractors can take to increase our knowledge of how best to treat those specific groups of people. I would encourage people to look for a chiropractor who has some additional training for those groups. If you’re ever unsure, I always encourage people to be an advocate for their health, so call whomever you’re looking to see and ask them questions. For example, is your issue something they have seen before? Do they have any additional trainings for treating either your specific injury or pregnancy/pediatric clients/athletes?
Is there anyone who shouldn’t see a chiropractor?
There are very few cases in which I would discourage someone with a blanket statement that they should not see a chiropractor. The main reason for that is there is such a vast range of issues that can benefit from chiropractic care that you may end up being surprised to hear your chiropractor can help. I have had so many patients come in saying I’m here for my lower back hurting and then they’ll continue telling me about their health history and I find out that they have migraines, or heavy menstrual cycles with severe pain, or injuries (knee, hip, foot, shoulder, etc.) that they think I will be unable to help them with. Often, I can help to alleviate symptoms as well as help with what they originally came into the office for. If I can’t, I am usually able to at least work with them and offer some relief from their discomfort while they are waiting for a surgery or help decrease their overall pain as they continue on with their additional treatments such as physical therapy.
I hope you found this helpful!
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