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Children and Babies
People usually think that, being so young, babies and children should have no structural stresses or strains in their bodies. This is certainly not the case. Being born, whether naturally or by cesarean section, is often the single most significant stress our body ever has to go through. As the uterus pushes to expel the baby against the natural resistance of the birth canal, the baby is subjected to enormous forces.

The baby's head moulds or distorts as it is squeezed through the birth canal, and many babies are born with an odd shaped head. In the first few days, the head can usually be seen to gradually lose the extreme moulded shape, as the baby suckles, cries and yawns. However, this unmoulding process is often incomplete, especially if the birth has been difficult.

When osteopaths examine babies areas of tension are often found in the spine or head, which are indications that the baby is uncomfortable. A baby cannot complain of backache or headache, and will typically express this by crying and being unsettled or irritable.

Many parents notice the following benefits after their child has had some cranial osteopathic treatment :
Reduced colicky crying, improved sleep, less unsettled irritable behaviour and increased quiet happy spells.

As the child grows

As the child grows, the effects of a difficult birth can make the child more vulnerable to other health problems. Asymmetry in the head, neck and body can lead to postural imbalances and discomfort or tension in the musculoskeletal system of the body. This makes the child fidgety and sitting still can be difficult. A child who cannot sit still due to discomfort or tension may find it more difficult to settle concentrate on sedentary tasks such as drawing, writing and school work.

Accidents and falls in childhood may not be severe enough to cause obvious injury, but the effects are often palpable by a skilled osteopath as areas of strain and tension in the child's body. This can upset a child's behaviour and sleep patterns and general health as well as causing aches and pains. Osteopaths believe that regular monitoring of the developing spine can help to prevent back problems later in life.

Osteopathic treatment

Osteopathic treatment using the cranial approach is gentle, safe and effective for babies and children. Very specific, skilled, light pressure is applied where necessary to assist the natural ability of the body to release stresses and tensions.

Could there be any adverse reactions?

Reactions to treatment are variable; often the baby or child is very relaxed afterwards and sleeps well. Others have a burst of energy after treatment, usually followed by a good night's sleep. Occasionally children are unsettled after treatment. This is a temporary situation, and usually clears within 24 to 48 hours.

Courtesy: Dr Patrick McDonald - Osteopath