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