Celebrity doc Dr. Elliot Berlin, DC, of the Berlin Wellness Group in Los Angeles, is best known for his ability to turn breech babies, saving patients from painful, and often unnecessary, Cesarean sections.
For years, people have sworn by Dr. Berlin's abilities to relieve pregnancy pain. He has been dubbed the chiropractor to the stars -- pregnant stars. Focusing on prenatal and postpartum wellness care, he's been linked to Jessica Alba, Tori Spelling, Ricki Lake, and more. Momlogic sits down with Dr. Berlin for the inside scoop.
Momlogic: What is it like with such a high-profile clientele? We're sure you've had your share of run-ins with the paparazzi.
Dr. Berlin: I have enjoyed getting to know so many famous people through my work, and I find them to be surprisingly real and down-to-earth. They are all on an exciting journey through pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and it is an honor to be invited to help make that transition more comfortable for them. That said, every one of my patients is a VIP -- Very Important Pregnant Person -- and we work hard to make sure that they feel that way.
The paparazzi can be very intrusive and undo all of the therapeutic relaxation work that we do, so we have a special private entrance/exit with no outdoor exposure when we need it. Prior to that, I would escort our high-profile patients out through swarms of as many as 100 photographers in our parking lot.
ML: How do chiropractic techniques relieve pregnancy pain?
DB: In our office, we use a wide variety of wellness modalities geared specifically towards prenatal and postpartum care. We have a team of doctors and therapists providing chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, nutrition, craniosacral therapy, and my wife is a psychologist who helps couples prepare the relationship to handle parenthood and helps moms through pregnancy anxiousness and postpartum blues.
I personally mix chiropractic and massage into a session that we call Chirossage. The purpose is to knead the excess tension out of tense, achy, and sore muscles, while at the same time restoring motion to restricted and painful joints in the spine, pelvis, and hips, and sometimes the feet and hands.
ML: You talk about "changing the pelvis" to ensure smoother deliveries. Describe this technique.
DB: Many very small women have been able to birth large babies with relative ease, whereas sometimes small babies get stuck while trying to pass through a seemingly roomy pelvis. This can easily be explained by looking at pelvic function during childbirth. The laboring pelvis is designed to gently spread open well beyond its normal range to create a larger space for the baby to pass through. However, this special function can be inhibited by dysfunctional muscles or bones. The muscles of the pelvis can be tight and restrictive, especially in women with an athletic history such as running, gymnastics, dance, spinning, and skating. The pelvic bones can become stuck and lose their ability to open wide, and resisting the baby's downward progression. We see this more commonly in women who are sedentary, have been on bed rest, have had trauma to the pelvis, or feel pain in the low back, hips, or buttocks during pregnancy.
Chiropractic safely restores motion to the restricted bones, and soft tissue therapy releases the tight grip of tight muscles around the pelvis. In our office, we start labor preparation at around 34 weeks gestation.
ML: Is it possible to "turn" breech babies?
DB: At birth, about 94% of all babies are head down. Babies that have feet or buttocks down are said to be in a breech presentation. Some causes of breech presentation may include structural issues such as too much or too little amniotic fluid, uterine fibroids, an unusually shaped uterus, placenta position, or short umbilical cord. But sometimes the cause may be structural: strong ligaments pulling tightly on the uterus, decreasing the baby's ability or desirability to move freely within the womb. The other side of those ligaments is attached to pelvic bones. As a chiropractor, we adjust those bones and loosen the tight ligaments in order to restore normalcy to the baby's environment. This, together with massage and acupuncture techniques specific for breech presentation, have given countless numbers of moms the opportunity to have the safe, uncomplicated vaginal birth that they wanted.
We do not attempt to manually turn the baby. That technique, the external cephalic version, is done by a medical doctor in the hospital as a last resort.
ML: You just launched pediatric care for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, which includes massage therapy and chiropractic services. What are the benefits of your services for young children?
DB: Chiropractic adjustments for newborns are extremely gentle, very safe, and rather powerful. We check all new babies after the birth journey, as that journey can be traumatic. Signs of misalignment may include very irritable babies who don't sleep and scream whenever you put them down, head always turning or leaning to one side, poor latch or suckling, or nursing only on one side. We continue wellness checks with children at developmental milestones, such as when they start lifting their heads, rolling over, arching their backs, and start walking.
Infant and toddler massage are sessions where our instructor teaches new parents how and when to massage their children. We also offer craniosacral therapy, which is deeply relaxing and very therapeutic for moms and kiddies alike.
Combined, these techniques are used to boost immune function, help break the cycle of recurring ear infections, and help promote a more relaxed nervous system, better eating, sleeping, and bonding.