Before I ever started Chiropractic College in 1994, I was just a regular guy. Sure, I kept it “straighter” than many of my friends by avoiding drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and your run of the mill trouble, but I still knew how to have fun. I exercised quite a bit, achieved high ranks in martial arts and treated my body like a temple, but other than that, I was a pretty “normal” person. I suppose it was those virtues that “called” me to the largest natural health care profession in the United States.
Throughout my years at Life Chiropractic College (now University), however, I began to question a lot about our current healthcare system. They are too numerous to mention in this blog, but one thing in particular that I started to ponder was why childbirth, the one activity that has been around literally since the beginning of time, was treated and classified as a disease. It is rare these days that someone has a positive birth story to share. The best story people typically hear is, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be”… and even that response is rare. Giving birth is THE most important experience for a woman to go through to ensure the existence of our species and it should also be THE most wonderful experience.
So, how can one take the necessary measures to ensure a wonderful birth experience? Well, there are lots… but I will tell you my story.
Years ago, before I married (or even met) Brooke, I knew that I wanted my child to be born at home. Fortunately for me, Brooke was born at home as well as her two brothers; and her mom had a wonderful experience with all three. So, I did not need to do any convincing!
When Brooke and I learned that she was pregnant, we started to interview midwives. We interviewed three of them; all of which were great. I believe, without a doubt that we chose the best one for us, Michelle Freund and the Birth Matters team. We also took a Bradley Method birth class which is essentially husband (or partner) coached childbirth. That class prepared us more than I ever could have imagined! I highly recommend Bradley Method for any expecting mom and partner who desire a natural childbirth. We then hired Julie Perkins owner of Growing-Families to be our doula, who also happened to be our Bradley instructor… and she was incredible.
Around 11pm on Saturday January 23rd, Brooke started experiencing some minor contractions. As trained by Julie, we tracked their duration, spacing and intensity. By 1 am we decided to text Julie and let her know that it was probably time to make her way to our home. After her arrival, Brooke started more active labor and by 5am our midwife team began to arrive. Brooke’s labor was nothing like what you see on television or the movies… it was peaceful and remarkable. As she entered transition (the stage before pushing), she asked the midwife, “Just out of curiosity, at what point would someone have asked for an epidural?” The midwife responded, “Hours ago!” and laughed. Brooke was shocked. The thought NEVER even crossed her mind to need drugs; not because of a high threshold for pain, but because of our birth team and her preparation. She was mentally prepared from prayer, meditation and education. She was physically prepared from exercise, nutrition and chiropractic adjustments throughout the pregnancy (which also helped ensure optimal fetal position). And, she was emotionally prepared, because rather than fearing this experience, she was empowered and saw it as one step closer to meeting our little miracle about to be born!
Brooke labored for approximately 15 hours in different positions in her own, comfortable home. She did lunges on the stairs, squats from my chin-up bar and sat in the birthing tub. When it was time to push, I got into my best Gary Carter squat (he was a catcher for the NY Mets) and prepared to make the most important catch of my life. Within moments of learning that her home team Denver Broncos advanced to Super Bowl 50, Zion Gabriel Stenzler made his grand entrance.
Chiropractic and this birth experience…
When Zion was making his way into this world, the midwife noticed that the cord was wrapped around his tiny neck. She was incredibly calm and handled the situation like it was no big deal (as she’s had this experience numerous times). She told me exactly what to do as he was coming out and she removed the cord from his neck. As Zion was coming out, I couldn’t help but to begin palpating his spine. Once he was completely out, it was evident that the cord was wrapped for a considerable amount of time. His head was wrenched towards one side and he was having labored breathing. As I handed Zion to his mommy for the first time, I gave him his first and most important adjustment. Immediately after the adjustment, he took a deep breath and started to make the sounds a healthy baby should make… and all was grand!
After most of the birth team left, one of the midwives stayed to make sure everything was good with Zion and checked his height, weight and vitals. Zion began to cry uncontrollably. He wasn’t latching to mom for feeding and was probably very hungry. The midwife noticed that he appeared to have “tongue tie” and suggested that we take him to a specialist to have it looked at as soon as we could because it was possible that he may not be able to feed until it was taken care of. This is NOT what new parents want to hear after having the most beautiful birth experience.
Brooke tried to feed Zion for about 3 hours throughout the crying and he seemed to have no desire to even try to latch. We were both frustrated and concerned, but never lost faith. We knew that all the knowledge of the universe existed within Zion and that he just wasn’t yet expressing his true innate potential. Silently we prayed, we meditated and we prayed some more. Then Brooke went to take a shower and was inspired to do something that I do with almost every single newborn brought to my office… check, adjust and perform cranial-sacral work (it’s actually a chiropractic technique called Sacra-Occipital Technique, SOT). After about 10 minutes of SOT, he seemed to calm for a bit. I laid him on my chest as we did “skin to skin” and he started to move around looking for…. well you know what! He didn’t understand that I was the wrong parent for what he wanted, but I suggested to Brooke as soon as she got out of the shower to give it one more try. He grabbed on to that nipple like it was the first meal of his life- well it was! And he hasn’t let go since (with no assistance from any specialist other than his daddy the chiropractor). Zion has been a perfect angel and the biggest blessing in our lives.
As a reminder, DREAM is an acronym for the 5 facets of wellness; Diet, Relaxation, Exercise, being in Adjustment and Mental Wellness. I attribute the wonderful childbirth experience to Brooke’s bravery, faith, preparation, chiropractic care and to God; and because we too choose to live our DREAM… everyday!
I remain in awe and gratitude for this amazing experience and for my little Superman, Zion Gabriel Stenzler, 1/24/16, 4:44pm, 6 lbs, 19.25 inches.
Brian A. Stenzler, MS, DC is the President/CEO and co-founder of DREAM Wellness. He currently serves as the President of the California Chiropractic Association and is certified in Webster Technique. He is also a chiropractic doctor for the golfers as part of the USGA Wellness Team at the US Open Tournaments around the country. Dr. Stenzler practices part-time out of the Del Mar location where he specializes in pregnancy, newborn and family care. He is married to Brooke Stenzler, the relationship coach/consultant at DREAM Wellness and is now the daddy of Zion.