Birthing interventions affecting cervical range of motion

Updated: May 12

Pregnant women usually spend months preparing for birth, the moment we get to meet our babies. We all share a common goal and know that the delivery of a healthy baby is all that matters, and a vaginal delivery is usually the preferred method for those that understand the role it plays in shaping the baby’s cranium and the bacterium exposure for baby.

At the moment, 19% of vaginal deliveries are requiring assistance – forceps and vacuum extraction.

So for those that ask, “Why do you take you baby to a Chiropractor?”…

A new study has found that from assessments of 176 infants, vacuum-assisted delivery and Caesarean section deliveries were associated with “a higher prevalence of reduced cervical spine range of motion when compared to a vaginal delivery without assistance.”

Baby neck movement head shape plagiocephaly

This study showed interesting results, despite having a limited number of infants for the study. Reduced range of motion of the cervical spine in:

  • 75% of infants delivered with forceps

  • 76.1% of infants born vaginally without intervention

  • 82.3% of infants born via caesarean section

  • 88.9% of vacuum-assisted deliveries

The eye-opening statistics show that while vacuum-assisted and caesarean deliveries had the highest prevalence of reduced cervical range of motion, the fact is, 75% of all infants in the study had reduced cervical spine range of motion, even if no interventions were necessary. Infants born vaginally without intervention still had reduced range of motion in their neck.

"75% if all infants in the study had reduced cervical spine range of motion.."

So what does this mean?

Well further study is needed, but it does make you wonder…

How does reduced range of motion affect an infant?

Is the infant favouring one side, i.e. feeding from one breast, due to a lack of cervical range of motion?

How is this affecting my child’s development?

If your infant is favouring one side, will they meet all milestones without delay, i.e. rolling, crawling?

Other studies have shown that a reduced range of motion in the cervical spine, can lead to mis-shapen head (a.k.a. plagiocephaly).

Looking forward to more research in this area. If you are looking for a chiropractic assessment, TLC or answers to YOUR questions, book yourself and your baby for an appointment.


1. Fludder C, and Keil B (2018), “Instrument Assisted Delivery and the Prevalence of Reduced Cervical Spine Range of Motion,” Chiropractic Journal of Australia, retrieved 28 November 2018

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