Birth and ear infections

This is anecdotal, and as far as I know, there is no research into this topic. I don’t expect there to be research into it, either, because of the prevailing medical opinion from doctors (who often think the “MD” after their name stands for “minor deity”).

I wonder how many babies and children have ear infections because of their difficult births. Seriously.

When MJ told me the story of her second child’s birth, or rather, what happened afterwards, because of the birth, she said that her son “took a baseball bat to her tailbone on the way out.” Her tailbone was literally broken during the birth, but she didn’t know it until months afterwards. She had had an epidural of course, same as with her first birth. When giving birth to her first child (different hospital, different state, different everything), they wouldn’t top off her epidural when she was pushing because they wanted her to be able to feel what she was doing. With her second, they gave her a second dose, and she said that she thought it was more helpful to her to be numb, because then she wasn’t distracted by the pain, and could concentrate on pushing. While that’s certainly possible, I wonder if it was worth it, all things considered.

One blogger likened pushing with an epidural to getting a shot of lidocaine at the dentist’s office. You move your mouth, or you think you’re moving your mouth, but you’re not really sure, because you can’t totally feel it. You’re doing your best, but you’re still numb so you don’t know if it’s really right. (And considering the number of words I’ve slurred, or the food or liquid I’ve spilled when my mouth was still numb, it’s pretty obvious that many times it does not work just right.) I like this analogy, but have never had an epidural, so don’t know its accuracy from experience.

So my friend was nice and numb, which is what she wanted at the time, but I think she also was in a bad position for birth, and didn’t know it. Had she been able to feel, she probably would have realized she was uncomfortable (or perhaps in a downright painful position), and would have made an adjustment so that she was more comfortable. The fact that the tip of her tailbone broke is evidence to me that she was not in a good position. Of course, having an epidural, she was pretty much sitting on her tailbone in a C-position or lying supine, which makes it difficult for the tailbone to flex outward, which it naturally does when a baby’s head passes it. In her case, I think her position made it impossible for the coccyx to move, so it broke.

She didn’t feel it then, but she sure did over the course of the next several months when she couldn’t sit comfortably except with the donut ring (and sometimes not even then)! So I wonder if it was really even worth it for her. Not that one can travel backwards in time anyway, but if I wonder if I were to go to her when she was pregnant and tell her that if she got an epidural her tailbone would break and she’d be unable to sit comfortably for any length of time for six months after the birth, if she’d still get an epidural. But that’s neither here nor there. What happened happened. Enough background.

This baby had multiple ear infections in his first year of life, and he had no risk factors for it. He was exclusively breastfed (even when he started eating baby cereal for his first solids, his mother mixed breastmilk in it); he did not go to day-care, nor was he around a lot of other little children. His older brother was 3, but he didn’t really go to a lot of friends’ houses and bring back germs, etc. But he still had one infection after another, at an average rate of one infection a month. The pediatrician eventually referred him to an ear nose and throat doctor, who recommended ear tubes. Of course. She actually had the surgery scheduled, when I mentioned chiropractic.

My older sister started getting ear infections as a teenager after being thrown from a horse. She got no help from a medical doctor (the first time he looked in her ears, he said they were too infected and he couldn’t see anything; two weeks of antibiotics later, he looked in her ears and said they were clear so he couldn’t see anything). My mom had trouble with her back (a swing fell underneath her years previously), and was seeing a chiropractor, and mentioned the ear infections to him. Although she had to go frequently for the first few weeks, after that she was just on maintenance visits, and never had another ear infection. This was after having many multiple infections.

So, I mentioned this possible course of treatment to MJ. She was naturally skeptical, but decided that she really needed to exhaust all alternatives before choosing what was possibly an unnecessary surgery for her son. She had plenty of reason to be concerned about the infections — her older son also had many ear infections as a child, and was delayed in speech because of it, and she didn’t want her younger son to be likewise affected. But she decided to give it a try.

When she told the pediatrician and the ENT (she had to cancel the tube surgery), they pooh-poohed it, said it wouldn’t work, she was wasting her time and money, her son (who had an active ear infection at the time) would never get any better without the surgery, etc., etc., etc. A week or two after starting chiropractic adjustments, his ear infection was cleared up (without antibiotics), and he never had another one.

These ear infections started within a few months of his birth. There was nothing physical that happened to him that would account for a messed up neck or back causing an ear infection — he wasn’t crawling, rolling over, falling off of stuff, bumping his head into walls, etc. But one thing he did have was a difficult birth — as evidenced by his breaking his mother’s tailbone on the way out. The chiropractor said that he often saw cases like this, and he said it was many times due to the manipulations doctors do to babies in getting them out — both vaginal and Cesarean births. In fact, he said that oftentimes babies born by C-section are even worse, because doctors will pull these babies out by the head, putting a great deal of stress on the head and neck area, much more than in a vaginal birth, in which mothers are pushing their babies out, rather than having their babies pulled out of them.

Makes sense to me!

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2 Responses

  1. I was fully mobile and vertical and it still felt like someone kicked me in the sacrum with a steel-toed boot. It smarted for about four days.

    I figured that was just motherhood kicking me in the butt. (hardy har har)

  2. Interesting! My brother had chronic ear infections and was the only one of us to have a particularly traumatic birth (delivered with forceps). He also had chronic ear infections (resolved with the tubes). My mom attributes it to the fact that one of my preschool classmates sneezed in his face at a 1 week old, and he caught his first cold right then and there 😉 So who knows…

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