The subject line of this blog contains the 3 main "jobs" a healthy baby is designed to do - eat, sleep, and poop !
As simple as it sounds to us as adults, there is quite a bit of intricate development and function that a baby needs to learn quite quickly to get up to speed on all those things all at once.
What's really quite cool is that each of those 3 jobs is controlled by one primary system in the body, and also 'connects' to one main area and nerve. Yep, we're talking about the Central Nervous System and brain stem area once again! And as we nerd out just a little bit more here, we're going to add in this really rad thing called the Vagus Nerve!
That one area and one major nerve are all located in the upper neck area, just below the ears and behind the jaw. The two main vertebrae that protect the area and are crucial to these 3 functions are nicknamed the 'Atlas' and 'Axis' vertebra.
Let's start with good old C2 here, the axis!
It's called that because it is in charge of most of the neck's rotation, moving things side to side and all around. It also is very intimately connected to the swallowing and upper digestive process! Simply put the "mechanics" of this part of the nervous system have a ton to do with the "mechanics" of the EAT portion of life for an infant!
If C2 is subluxated (misaligned, fixated, stuck, and stressed) then oftentimes a child struggles to turn their head enough in both directions to latch and breastfeed, and also can struggle with swallowing and the first parts of digesting food.
Pairing it up with C1 (atlas), they work in tandem to do those digestive (EAT) functions, and also really control sleep. Therefore if C1 and/or C2 are subluxated and stressed, sleep is really thrown off for that baby because the system just stays in stress mode way too much... and struggles to calm down enough to soothe and sleep .
And lastly for this Eat, Sleep, Poop conversation... The Vagus Nerve is a wildly important nerve that branches from the brainstem area, makes its way right past and through C1 and C2 (and the entire neck), and is in charge of initiating the top 2/3s of digestion.
So when things like maternal stress, breech or abnormal positioning, or birth intervention (forceps, vacuum, C-section, induction, etc.) mess with the alignment and function of those areas especially... The most common effects are an infant who struggles to do one or more of their main "jobs" day after day.
In relatively short order that stress starts to stack up, and the child gets stuck in this colic, constipation, and often even chronic congestion pattern.