Craniosacral Therapy for Babies

Baby and Birth – A Craniosacral Approach

Birth is the most all-consuming and overwhelming experience we will ever encounter. Even with the most seamlessly sound birth, baby is exposed to a huge transformation as it moves from a dark fluid-filled space to one of air, light and noise. The baby’s nervous system is ignited. It takes its first breath, and first feed. A rather hectic environment compared to the warmth and safety of the mother’s womb!

Our birth essentially moulds who we are. It affects our nervous and immune system and imprints on our structural development. How we come in to the world and our early pre-verbal experiences can also imprint into our early psyche and shape how we view the world around us.

The Challenges of Birth

It is therefore no surprise that many babies experience challenges and difficulties following birth. Sleep, feeding, and digestive problems are common, as are changes in the shape of the head, glue ear, jaundice, colic and reflux. There is often a general sense that baby is unsettled. Birth can also be experienced as traumatic for both mother and baby. In addition further medical intervention is often necessary for the safety of mother and baby for various reasons.

The journey through the birth canal is the most challenging of our lives. All babies experience compressive and rotational forces as they move through the birth canal. The soft pliability of the baby’s skull at birth allows the bones to move and slide over each other as the baby negotiates the bones of its mother’s pelvis. The fluidic areas of the baby’s skull, called fontanelles, close between 3 months and 2 years. During this time the process of ‘re-moulding’ takes place i.e. the bones move into a normal position in the head.

What Happens at Birth

A common example of the impact of our birth relates to a major nerve, the Vagus nerve, which passes between two bones in the skull. The Vagus nerve is key to our involuntary functions e.g. digestion and sleep. As the baby passes through the birth canal, these bones can compress or impinge on the nerve and may cause problems with feeding or sleeping.

Birth also means dramatic changes in the nervous and endocrine (i.e. hormonal) systems of mum and baby. A hormonal orchestra plays out facilitating labor, birth and bonding (oxytocin), a natural painkiller is released (endorphins), the need for action is stimulated (adrenaline and noradrenaline), and breastfeeding encouraged (prolactin). Clever hey! It takes a while after birth for the nervous systems of mother and baby to down shift and the complex cocktail of hormones to naturally change and either party may experience difficulties adapting as these changes take place.

In most cases with nurture from parents, the actions of sucking and crying (yes, crying can be a good thing), safety and any required medical care, the baby is able to naturally settle into its new environment and align the position of the bones in its head. However, if the baby is unable to self-regulate, prolonged symptoms may occur.

Here are a few tips and questions to ask if your baby seems unsettled:

• As a guideline only, if the baby makes eye contact when crying this usually means it has a need; where there is no eye contact on crying this may indicate the baby’s system is unable to self-regulate.
• For the first 3 months the baby does not differentiate itself from its mother. It is useful for mum to check how she is in herself physically and emotionally. As one party shifts, the other will also.
• Skin to skin contact, a peaceful environment and quiet time with parents will help fulfil the baby’s need for love and nurture.
• How does the baby’s head look?
• Does the baby startle/frighten easily or are they sensitive to touch in certain areas (often the head, feet and torso)? Is there over sleeping/wakening during the night?
• If symptoms are prolonged or worsen always seek advice from your GP or health visitor
• Consider visiting a Craniosacral Therapist

It is encouraging to hear from clients that midwives, health visitors, doulas and other professionals are increasingly recommending Craniosacral Therapy (CST) for babies and children. CST can assist with the remoulding process and structural birth patterns in the baby’s bones and tissues. It also helps to down regulate the nervous system of both mother and baby and can help with bonding. It is a safe and gentle treatment and is often relaxing for both mother and baby.

For further information or to make an appointment please contact me or call 07886 659976.

The information provided here is complementary to, and not a substitute, for medical advice.

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