Birthing interventions affecting neck movement in babies

Updated: Feb 20

Giving birth to a baby is one of the biggest and most rewarding achievements a woman can do - regardless of the type of birth you have.

We prepare for our birth, make birthing plans and practice breathing techniques, and on occasion we don't account for the effects of birthing interventions along the way - c-sections, forceps, vacuums.

So how do these birthing interventions affect our babies post birth?

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

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).


As a chiropractor we regularly assess and check for neck movement and range of motion and the effects it has on the rest of the body. Chiropractors can restore full range of movement in the neck and spine and reduce stress and interference in baby's nervous system. Chiropractic care for babies includes:

  • Dural release

  • Stretches

  • Cranial therapy

  • Take home exercises and activities

As a chiropractor with a special interest in children's development, I love seeing children thrive and reach their full potential. If you are looking for a chiropractic assessment, TLC or answers to YOUR questions, book yourself and your baby for an appointment. Contact us.


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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