About Me,  birth story,  breastfeeding,  PPD,  pregnancy

Why we chiro

All four kids are asleep and it’s still 30 minutes till my 8:45 bedtime so…why not blog about it?
I wanted to take a minute to shout out to a very special doctor in my life, and throw a little praise his way for how much his services have impacted our health this past year.

Last September when we were just starting to really worry about Genevieve and her chart-eschewing growth rates and gross motor apathy, a friend recommended that we see everyone’s favorite chiropractor (at least in Denver), Dr. Mario Chavez at Vita Nova Spinal Care, a NUCCA practitioner. I was tempted to file it away with all the other advice we’d been given as “to investigate at a later date,” but something nudged me to make an appointment.

Dave and I have been under regular chiropractic care for years, I as a former high-volume athlete and car accident aficionado and him as a guy who just inherited bad joints, but our former chiropractor was of the “whack ’em and crack ’em” school. I always felt great while he was working on me, but I was also always a little bit afraid he was going to break my neck. Also, my back usually started hurting again about 20 minutes into the drive home, so…not the best use of copay.

Our experience with Vita Nova has been utterly different from any other chiropractic care we’ve ever received. Which is part of what makes me want to write about it.

I’ve definitely had conversations with medical doctors and physical therapists and watched their eyes glaze over or roll ever so slightly at the mention of the c-word, so I know there’s some debate over the legitimacy or efficacy of the discipline, but we’ve seen such encouraging results in our entire family that I wanted to document them here in the event it might be helpful to someone else. And I’m a really big fan of both/and: we use both western medicine and alternative care, because if it works, it works! (And sometimes it takes both antibiotics and essential oils to kick an ear infection, you know?)

The two most dramatic stories in our family’s chiro experience are probably mine and Evie’s, so I’ll go with those.

Evie started seeing Dr. Chavez every week or two last September, and within the first two months we started to see tangible results. She’d been in physical therapy concurrent with chiropractic care, but most of her PT sessions involved lots of stiffened, panicked screaming and resistance to any sort of movement she wasn’t familiar with. This included hands and knees, kneeling, tummy time, rolling from front to back and back to front, and last but not least, standing/bearing weight on her legs.

After her first few chiropractic adjustments we started to see her visibly relax. Her little legs had been drawn up tightly most of the time, but gradually she started to relax them. Her hip joints, so tight that we’d had X-rays done (per the recommendation of the orthopedics team at Children’s Hospital) to rule out hip dysplasia, started to rotate more freely and she achieved almost a full range of motion. And then, best of all, about 5 months into her treatment, she finally started to crawl and to bear weight on her legs.

She was 17 months before she dropped her butt-scoot entirely, and 18 months before she walked, but she did it.

And now she runs.

And she’s very, very hard to catch.

I’m not saying she never would have gotten here otherwise, but it sure helped things along.

Once I started seeing Evie make progress under chiropractic care I was confidant that I wanted to sign up for the whole family plan, so we crunched the numbers and decided to make the investment by paying up front for a year of care at a substantial discount. I promptly got pregnant a month or so into our plan, and I believe that chiropractic was one of the best things I could have done for my 32-year old multiparous body.

Throughout Luke’s pregnancy I gained ridiculous amounts of weight (as always) and managed to keep a fairly impressive level of activity up (per usual), but I did not experience the usual back problems that generally come with trimesters 2 and 3.

I slept better, I kept up my workouts until the very day I went into labor, and I didn’t experience the excruciating low-back pain that had accompanied all my previous pregnancies.

Most impressive, though, has been the postpartum period. I was absolutely exhausted from a demanding and unpredictable labor and a somewhat traumatic delivery, and to top it off I was experiencing some of the worst-case-scneario side effects from the (two!) epidural(s) that you read about on Baby Center at 4 am and shudder while swearing silently.

When I would lie down or rise too quickly from sitting, an electric zap would run the length of my spinal cord, beginning at the area of the epidural catheter insertion and zinging its way up to the base of my skull. It felt like someone was shocking the inside of my spine with a cattle prod, and the reverb was traveling up to my brain.

I googled it (of course I did) and as I read other women’s stories, I concluded that I was, of course, doomed to suffer these aftereffects well into my 50’s because I was stupid enough to put narcotics into my spinal fluid (again), and that my number had finally been called. I’m not dramatic. At all.

About a week and a half after Luke was born I had my first adjustment (and he had his second, much-needed after his shoulder dystocia tussle en route to the outside world) and guess what? I felt one final mighty zing during the appointment and then…nothing.

I have had zero pain or side effects from those stupid misplaced meds since.

Also worth mentioning, though I can’t prove the connection with hard data:

  • I’ve never had as much milk or had as much success breastfeeding. And Luke is the first baby to “get it” so soon after birth. Within 8 days or so we were chugging along like old pros.
  • He sleeps beautifully with minimal fussing or gas.
  • He is super alert and has the head control of a grown man.
  • His Apgars were off the hook despite having a distressing birth with some minor oxygen deprivation
  • I don’t have postpartum depression (this one’s a stretch because yes I’m also doing progesterone shots and yes, both sets of grandparents are semi local now and yes, I have wonderful sisters and friends around me to help carry the load. But I’m sure that there’s a tiny correlation all the same.)

In short? My body is healing properly because it’s properly aligned and able to do its thing. And I feel good. Tired, yes. Overwhelmed? Frequently. But hopeful, too, because I can observe the healing and the progress that’s being made.

If you’re local to Colorado I highly recommend you make an appointment with Dr. Chavez and see about getting your own “justment,” as Joey calls them, because life is short, and a healthy body can do a lot of good in this world.



  • Anne

    I totally second the importance of finding the right one, and I had a great experience leading up to my most recent delivery (baby #3). So glad to hear it has been helping you! And curious about the idea of a year of care! Have to look into that.

  • Ashley

    I laughed at your description of the “PT eye roll” at the mention of chiropractic. As a PT, I have certainly given my fair share of those exact eye rolls. But it’s really only for the crack em/whack em kind of chiros. Because there really are some bad ones out there (just like any profession). But there area also some great ones, and I’m glad you found one.

    I myself have given known to sneak into our (fantastic!!) chiro’s office now and then, feeling like I need to wear a disguise . And acupuncture, essential oils, and craniosacral work (from a very legit, super strong Christian practitioner. Because that one can quickly get spiritually wonky with the wrong practitioner)? Yes, yes, and yes! I went from 3-4 severe migraines a week to 2-3 per year. Thank you God for all the approaches!

  • Camille

    Yay! I’m so glad that you, Evie, and the whole fam are feeling well under chiropractic care. My hubby is a chiropractor and I can’t imagine being pregnant without getting adjusted! Thanks for the wonderful write up on your experience!

  • Karyn

    My one time going to a a chiropractor was the whack em, crack em experience. How was your Dr Chavez different? I admit I didn’t go back because the sudden jerking of the neck thing really freaked me out. I’m not one to even crack my knuckles. But, I’m about to turn 40 and am pregnant with my seventh, so I KNOW my body is out of alignment, lol

  • Chris

    Chiropractic can make such a difference in every phase of life! All professions have tiers of expertise; Dr. Rethwill in Eugene, Oregon is brilliant, kind, and highly effective.

  • Nancy

    Totally down with the chiro, especially for babies! One of my kids wouldn’t move her head to the right when she was born. A chiro-friend put one finger on the back of her neck somewhere and she started moving her head in both directions right away, probably preventing torticollis (sp?).

  • Rachel

    Hi Jenny! I recently ran across your blog while searching for something on CNA…and I am so glad! I love how you write-so real and so funny! Also…after reading some posts, I saw your pic and realized that we were at FUS as Grad students at the same time! I didn’t know you well(our main friend in common was Amber), but I actually now live in the Archdiocese of Denver too and would love to connect at least via email (I live in Windsor).

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