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Moms-to-be probably haven’t given their babies’ spines much consideration, but Dr. Mike Motel, Chiropractor and owner of Ascend Chiropractic in downtown Bellingham, would like them to.

“The process of giving birth is super hard on the baby in general,” he says, “so having the baby checked to make sure they are in proper alignment can help them thrive.”

Dr. Mike says a Chiropractic adjustment early on may resolve common baby ailments, like colic or constipation, often in one visit. It’s also not uncommon for babies to have trouble latching when they are nursing, and Chiropractic may also help the baby and mama with this.

Every new patient at Ascend Chiropractic will receive x-rays at the initial visit. Photo courtesy Cre8tive Circle

Dr. Mike shares that one little patient recently wasn’t able to turn her head to one side, which meant she couldn’t latch properly when nursing. After one adjustment, the baby was able to turn her head, and subsequent follow up appointments have insured she continues to improve.

Pediatric adjustments are very different from that of adults, Dr. Mike says. “The adjustments are very light and gentle. We compare it, basically, to checking the ripeness of a tomato. It’s not the kind of adjustment that you might get as an adult; it’s more like holding a constant, gentle pressure.”

Mothers typically express surprise at just how gentle it is, he adds. “When I put the same amount of pressure on a mom’s arm, she usually says, ‘You’re barely even touching me!’”

And babies don’t seem to mind at all: “We have babies sleep through their adjustments all the time,” says Dr. Mike.

Chiropractic care is just as important for expectant and new mothers, Dr. Mike adds. In general, pregnancy is tough on the woman’s skeletal structure, and Chiropractic may remove the back pain associated with pregnancy.

Dr. Mike Motel adjusts one of his littlest patients. Chiropractic is highly effective for infants, and may help ease a fussy baby. Photo courtesy Cre8tive Circle

As the baby grows and gets heavier, the weight of the belly changes a woman’s posture and spinal curvature.

“If that ends up resulting in the pelvis being misaligned, that makes for a smaller space for the baby to move and grow,” says Dr. Mike. “If the mother stays in proper alignment, labor and delivery should be easier on their body in general.”

The benefits of Chiropractic continue after pregnancy, when the demands of bending and lifting the baby take over. Mothers also frequently end up tweaking themselves to find just the right position that works best for breastfeeding the baby.

One of Dr. Mike’s patients, María Pérez de Henderson, considered him part of her prenatal care team. Then, when she found herself in the emergency room shortly after giving birth due to severe edema (swelling) in her legs, she called on him again.

Mike Motel (right) and his wife Alicia love to hike with their three dogs, Pancake, Link and Benedict. Photo courtesy Ascend Chiropractic

“Hours after being adjusted, the edema was reducing, and I finally slept,” she says.

Dr. Mike reminded the patient that the baby also went through trauma in the birth canal and that she should consider bringing her in.

“I thought the crying, the fussiness, the gas, the no poop was all normal for the baby too, which was confirmed by all the pregnancy books, but it wasn’t,” says the patient. “My husband and I sat in star-struck wonder as Dr. Mike adjusted our less than two-week-old; he held her so carefully and delicately. She came home, ate, pooped and slept like a happy baby.”

Dr. Mike points out that babies don’t need the same kind of continual Chiropractic care as an adult with an injury.

“If the baby right from the start is super happy and healthy and doesn’t need much, then the frequency of care is so much less than an adult,” he says. “One adjustment could last months, versus an adult who’s been injured and coming in multiple times per week.”

Dr. Mike loves seeing children, and one of the reasons is because everything changes so much faster than adults. “It’s very satisfying that they get better so quickly.”

A crash-course in Chiropractic

Dr. Mike was a college student in Colorado when he was introduced to Chiropractic—the hard way.

“I was doing some crazier skiing stuff and landed on my head,” he says.

As painful as it was to be injured, he was impressed with how quickly his pain resolved after he started Chiropractic care, something the muscle relaxers prescribed to him in the emergency room couldn’t do.

Ascend Chiropractic is located in downtown Bellingham at 1409 Cornwall Avenue. Logo courtesy Cre8tive Circle

Because he was finishing up his undergraduate degree in integrative physiology, the timing was right for him to take the next step in his education with a new direction in Chiropractic. He attended the renowned Palmer School of Chiropractic in Iowa where he studied the Gonstead System of Chiropractic.

Gonstead differs from other methods of Chiropractic in its analysis of patients and in the adjustments themselves, focusing on just one vertebra at a time. Each visit includes a temperature scan of the vertebrae to pinpoint areas of nerve interference, which may lead to pain or inflammation.

Like all Chiropractic care, the practice aims to help the body heal itself.

“The main premise of Chiropractic care is to allow the body to heal itself by removing any interference to the nerves along the spine,” Dr. Mike explains. “When those nerves allow your brain and body to communicate freely, your body is able to work as it was designed.”

No surprises

After “bouncing around” the country following his graduation from Palmer, living in Idaho, Oregon and Massachusetts, Dr. Mike and his wife settled in Bellingham.

“We love Bellingham,” he says. “We love the people; we love the mountains; we love the ocean.”

He also loves his office right downtown at 1409 Cornwall Ave., where he started his practice in 2015, and he loves introducing people to Chiropractic care.

All new patients begin with an initial intake visit with full spine x-rays. Unless the patient is in terrible pain, Dr. Mike won’t even do an adjustment on that first visit. At the second visit, Dr. Mike reviews the x-rays with the patient and begins to chart a course of action, and usually adjusts the patient, as long as they are ready and need to be adjusted.

“We go through the entire process before we do anything, to make sure there are no surprises,” he says. “If the patient is comfortable, we actually do the adjustment.”

Dr. Mike says he not only sees patients of all ages but also with varied complaints, from neck and low back pain to numbness and tingling to gastrointestinal issues and beyond.

To learn more about his practice, visit the Ascend Chiropractic website.

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