Osteopathic treatment can be invaluable for treating a wide range of health conditions in babies. The gentler, non-manipulative techniques, commonly known as ‘cranial osteopathy’ are especially suitable for treating young children, including newborn infants.
Birth is a very physical and perhaps stressful process on a baby’s body. At birth, much of a baby’s skeleton is more like cartilage, especially the plate-like bones that make up the skull. These ‘plates’ are quite soft and malleable, and are designed to overlap and glide over each other, enabling them to sustain the forces of labour and allow the head to pass through the birth canal. However, this pliability may mean that they are susceptible to strain and ‘moulding’, which is often evident after birth in babies that have asymmetrical, flattened or markedly pointed head shapes.
A degree of moulding is normal, and usually resolves within the first few days after birth along with the normal processes of adapting to breath in air, crying, and sucking. However, in some cases the moulding can be retained, and will need attention. Left untreated, the bony plates may remain overlapped, pulled apart, or under excessive strain. This in turn can cause tension or
pinching in the delicate membranes that cover the brain and nervous system. Overstrain of tissues and compression of joints in the head, neck and upper back may also occur as a result. This may affect the nerves which come from the base of the skull and help in such body functions as feeding, digestion and breathing, and may cause other imbalances in the rest of the body.
Such problems may well be accentuated if there has been a difficult presentation such as a very quick or perhaps a prolonged labour, a breach delivery, a situation where baby has a relatively large head and mum has a smaller pelvis where the fit between the two has been especially stressful, or, if the delivery has been assisted with forceps or ventouse suction for example.
In assessing a baby the osteopath will take a comprehensive history of the pregnancy and birth, as well as asking questions about their early health and behaviour. They will carry out routine medical examinations as well as making a specific osteopathic assessment. This may
include such procedures as listening to the baby’s breathing and heart sounds, testing their reflexes and assessing their developmental stage. The osteopath will then examine the baby from top to toe taking note of the whole body framework including the spine, pelvis, chest, limbs and head.
Osteopaths are trained to detect strain patterns throughout the whole the body including the spine and cranium. They use their highly developed sense of touch, known as palpation, to assess the subtle movements of the baby’s skull / body, and use equally gentle techniques to release restrictions and to stimulate the babies own inherent healing mechanisms, aiding a return to a more balanced state. Treatment thus allows baby to grow, develop and function in as unrestricted, balanced and happy manner as is possible. Early detection and treatment of restricted mobility can help prevent the development of chronic problems later on in life.
Some other conditions which may respond well to osteopathic treatment alongside other treatment methods include behavioural and developmental problems, ADHD, genetic/familial conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism for example.
Cranial osteopathic treatment is gentle, safe and effective in the treatment of babies and children. Reaction to treatment is uncommon – most babies are relaxed and sleep well afterwards, but some however may appear unsettled or ‘grizzly’. This is a temporary situation, which usually settles down within 24-48 hours as the baby’s body adjusts to the changes made during treatment.
Free Screening: If you have already been receiving treatment throughout your pregnancy, we offer your baby a free initial screening, so that any underlying restrictions can be assessed.
If you are unsure as to whether or not your baby is suitable for treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.
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