I see a disproportionate number of little ones in my sleep practice who were born by way of induction, assisted delivery or c-section. Coincidence? I think not. Experienced osteopath Tracy Lomax explains why this may be and how she uses cranial osteopathy in her work with babies and children.
Let us start at the very beginning: birth. One way or another most of us enter the world violently: pushed, dragged, sucked, catapulted or wrenched – and what a shock!
From the cosy nest of the womb into the harsh reality of unfamiliar lights, sounds, smells, air – and cold weighing scales. That’s at best. At worst, it’s scalpels, monitors, strangers and freaked–out parents.
So, apart from the actual physical trauma of birth, most babies arrive somewhat startled: Imagine it…gasp…shallow breathing…fists clench…shoulders rise…heart races…straight into a state of shock. Often, to one degree or another, that is how we remain.
That’s where the cranial osteopath comes in useful. When he puts his hands onto a baby’s tiny body they release that shock so that the baby, often for the first time, will truly relax. The baby’s breathing deepens, fists un-clench and the grimacing face changes to a look of peace. For many babies, this alone will turn them from a restless, colicky nightmare to a child of contentment. Babies also have to contend with physical trauma to the head. As the cranium houses the brain, any slight damage or rearrangement to the shape of the head during delivery or by the position of the baby in the womb can have far- reaching consequences. For instance, the frontal bone (forehead) can be pressing heavily into the area below the eyebrows actually squashing the eye sockets. This may cause sticky eyes or blocked tear ducts, which can be remedied with some cranial treatment.
Also common, especially after forceps delivery, is strain through the area above the ears. This may result in recurrent ear infections, hearing difficulties or balance problems.
It is also frequent to find after birth that one side of the head is more compressed than the other: the right side of the brain relates to our emotions and creative ability whilst the left side relates to our rationality and intellectual ability. Either one can be disturbed through an imbalance, resulting in: behavioural problems; learning difficulties; disturbance of hypothalamus function (which can cause problems with appetite, thirst, temperature and sleep regulation); and disturbance of pituitary function (which can cause problems with water retention, growth, metabolic rate and sexual development).
By releasing the tension in the cranium, it improves the general circulation of blood and nourishment to the brain and so helps all aspects of development. This also gives more space for the teeth to come in so easing the whole teeth process.
Although the word “cranial” implies that the affects are restricted to the head, cranial osteopathy will help other areas of the body. For instance, often the torso is twisted and the baby is found to have torsion in the abdominal area, causing colic, constipation and /or vomiting. This can also affect the lungs and many cases of asthma have been helped through cranial treatment.
Even with births through cesarean section, the treatment is good. With planned C-sections the baby frequently goes into a state of shock because of the suddenness of separation. With emergency sections, the baby has often been in distress for a while and so gone into shock. Also, he or she may have been pushing hard against the pelvic bones of mum and have damaged the cranium at the same time.
Having worked using cranial treatment for twenty years, I never cease to be amazed by just what can improve by having your cranial bones realigned. A good case to illustrate the profound effect a difficult birth can have is of a lady who had been born in distress weighing only 2lbs 7oz. Her jaw bone was so underdeveloped she needed extensive dentistry to develop a brace so her teeth could come together to perform the simple act of chewing. She also suffered acute anxiety and a facial tic. Working closely with the dentist cranial osteopathy helped to soften the facial tension and strain over the skull which relaxed her nervous system enough to improve her sleep, accept the brace better and enhance her general well being.
"Tracy is an absolute angel with a heart of gold! I’d just like to thank you for all your help with baby Neve! We finally have a more settled little lady. Neve has struggled with undiagnosed tongue tie until she was 9 weeks old which thankfully a friend gave me the advice to contact Milk Matters, where Charlotte and Debra sorted that. Neve’s feeding still didn’t improve and she held so much tension in her little body. She wouldn’t go in a baby car seat, wouldn’t sleep longer than half an hour, wouldn’t be put down, impossible to dress her, screamed murder if you tried to put a hat on her, she hated lying down as well as had stranger anxiety where she panicked if anyone she didn’t know got close to her. She was diagnosed with cows milk protein intolerance as well as silent reflux. Me having a dairy free and soya free diet didn’t make an amazing difference. She was a puzzle and a very unsettled, upset one.
I think Tracy made the most difference to Neve’s well-being. She let out burps instantly after her first session and slept for 2 hours afterwards which was unheard of. Her tongue no longer appears slanted, she no longer screams all day, she will wear a hat and sit happily and sing away in the car seat, she sleeps...finally! And her feeding is a lot better and she now accepts a bottle. I just want to thank Tracy so much for all her help and understanding. I don’t know where I’d have been without you!"
Our mission statement at Huddersfield Osteopathy is: “All mothers and babies have a right to be checked before and after labour”. Even if there are no obvious symptoms, it is a pleasant experience.
We are frequently asked what Osteopaths treat, and the proper answer is children. We do not treat conditions, but work toward health. However, patients who have visited us have presented with the following conditions: Autism, hyperactivity, hypersensitivity, epilepsy, behavioural difficulties, dyslexia, cerebral palsy, back pain, eczema, psoriasis, plagiocephaly, colic, glue ear, talipes, asthma and gastric reflux.
Should you wish to speak to an Osteopath about whether we can help you or your child please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01484 514441.
When your child isn’t sleeping well, it can be all-consuming. I know because I have been there! To save you spending hours trawling the internet, only to end up more confused than when you started, I have created Sleep Solutions On-Demand - allowing you to access the best-quality information and gently improve your little one's sleep, without tears or training.
Sleep Basics On-Demand is a series of ten concise, easy-to-digest videos to help you nail naps, banish early-rising and everything in between, putting my knowledge and experience at your fingertips 24-hours a day.