Osteopathy, Birth Trauma & Baby Sleep Help
Osteopathy can help your baby recover from birth trauma and start getting your baby sleeping through the night.
We all know that labour is painful for the mother. That is unless you are one of those superhuman women who deliver in three pushes with your only pain relief being candles and John Denver music (to quote my antenatal class midwife).
As an osteopath, I have spent numerous hours sitting at my treatment table while a traumatised baby tells me and everyone in my waiting room (in no uncertain terms) that birth is not a pleasant experience for them either and “please put me back in now.”
I have also been a mum since 2003, which means that I have felt alone, under-confident and inadequate in my ability to make decisions regarding my baby’s health. The reasons why a baby wont stop crying can often be a result of birth trauma. Getting some baby sleep help from an osteopath can be a good way to identify these problems and try to find a solution so you stop your baby crying and get some sleep again.
What can osteopaths treat?
Basically anything that makes your baby cry. This includes:
- digestive disturbance – colic, reflux, diarrhoea and constipation
- breast feeding related issues – including poor latching and poor suckling
- musculoskeletal aches and pains – neck and back strain or tension and asymmetry
- poor sleeping patterns
- blocked lacrimal glands
- respiratory or ear infections
- clicking or asymmetric hips and pelvis.
Baby sleeping problems are incredibly common and not something that parents should feel they need to experience. Learning how to get your baby to sleep through the night is something that will make any new parent happy. Whether you see an osteopath, a GP or a sleep therapist there are a number of ways you can seek some baby sleep help.
How will my baby tell me they need an osteopath?
Any of the following may indicate that your baby will benefit from osteopathic treatment:
- The baby often cries and appears unsettled.
- Sometimes the proud parents tell me that their baby is really strong because at two days old he or she could support their own head. This usually means they have very tense neck muscles or have breech presentation.
- Some babies have made a peculiar grunting sound from birth, which to me often indicates abdominal discomfort.
- Some babies wriggle a lot and either arch their back or want to stay excessively curled up.
Is Osteopathy safe for my baby?
Osteopaths must be registered and have completed a five-year university degree. They have a thorough understanding of medical assessment and diagnosis. Any condition that is unable to be treated by manual therapy will be referred to a GP or maternal health nurse immediately.
What does the treatment involve?
An Osteopathic treatment for your baby can take place as soon after the birth as the baby can physically get to the clinic or (if you have inside contacts) as soon as the osteopath can get to your baby.
The osteopath will take a case history, which will explore:
- your health during pregnancy
- the position of the baby during pregnancy and labour
- the labour story and any complications or interventions
- the short history of your baby’s life including medications, accidents, behaviours and patterns such as sleeping, bowel habit and feeding.
An Osteopath’s ability to diagnose your baby’s condition comes from an extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and pathology. Our tools for diagnosis and treatment are a thorough case history and palpation of your baby’s musculoskeletal, central nervous, digestive, circulatory and lymphatic systems with our hands.
What is Birth Trauma?
Birth trauma can occur in many ways including:
- baby running out of room at the end of pregnancy
- less than ideal position during final weeks of pregnancy
- injury to the mother during pregnancy – physical, chemical or emotional
- very fast or very prolonged labour
- necessary or unnecessary intervention during labour
- trauma after labour either to the mother or the baby – physical, emotional or chemical.
I once treated a baby girl who was delivered with only one or two pushes while the mother squatted; and much to the midwives dismay was out and on the floor on her head before anyone could catch her. Needless to say she told her parents about it for the first ten long weeks of her life. After three treatments to decompress her head and spine she was happy and smiling, as were the parents.
The Osteopathic treatment will involve the baby lying on a treatment table or being held by a parent while the practitioner uses very light touch to ‘unwind’ any tension.
Many osteopaths will use Craniosacral Osteopathy to treat children. More structural Osteopaths will use functional or fascial techniques. The aim of treatment is to increase range of motion, increase circulation and improve lymphatic drainage to restricted joints, cranial sutures and other relevant tissues. Most importantly we are trying to help elevate the problems that are causing the baby to cry.
The baby doesn’t feel any more discomfort than he/she already has. However, even the gentle touch that we use can remind them of the compressive forces felt during labour, so they often cry during a treatment. The pressure used is as light as the pressure you would apply when you cuddle your baby.
Why do I need to know about Osteopathy?
I constantly meet parents who wonder after three treatments and a happier baby, why they didn’t know about Osteopathy sooner.
Article by: Dr Elissa O’Brien (B.Sc(Clin)M.H.Sc(Ost)M.A.O.A).
Published 8/11/2005 – Updated 27/10/08 Re-edited 06/07/09