Can osteopathy help my baby’s pain and crying?
Structure Governs Function – the most basic osteopathic premise is most palpable in the birthing process. Birth is very often traumatic and can leave baby and parent alike struggling for a balanced life.
The cranial form of osteopathy, when practised well takes the osteopathic process to its ultimate intent. This hands-on therapy quickly directs anatomy and physiology towards a balanced healthy function.
In general, osteopathy is still very misunderstood in Australia but this does not prevent it playing a vital role in assisting a wide range of problems that often arise during children’s growth and development. The gentleness of cranial osteopathy (as opposed to the modernised ‘sacra-occipital technique’ – a reductive ersatz) makes it an ideal choice for all ages from newborns right through to young adults.
A check-up for all the new Babies!
Pregnancy and birth can be one of the most physically stressful events one can experience in life. While babies have some mechanisms to cope with this process (such as flexible head plates), squeezing into mum’s tummy and the trauma of delivery can leave some babies misaligned or with strains from day one. It’s usual for parents to arrive home carrying their priceless little bundle of joy, looking forward to a wonderful future together but can soon become overwhelmed from sleepless nights and emotional stress even marital tension – and then to be given a diagnosis offering drugs for their new baby can be just the last straw.
Here are a few of the conditions that may be influenced or aggravated by structural strains in the newborn and infant:
- general irritability and sleep disturbance – won’t settle.
- symptoms of colic.
- difficulty/weak sucking or attaching.
- infantile reflux.
- recurrent ear infections.
- obvious pain, restlessness and discomfort.
For babies who have had a traumatic birth, or those with asymmetries in head shape or obvious bruising a check-up is particularly warranted. Osteopathy can help to release these subtle strains assisting the body to regain a better state of balance and health. Good result is usually gained in the first session and a happier; more settled child brings rest for mum and dad as well. Presenting your new baby for osteopathic structural check-up soon after birth may help to alleviate a lot of the restlessness and difficulty often experienced by families in the first few weeks. I have witnessed all my children’s birth process and worked on each one as soon as possible. Apart from my own, the youngest presented was 3 days old where mum and dad booked themselves out and brought them to me so they could get some sleep. This young ‘baby’ is now a thriving late teenager.
Children grow and change quickly and as a result the demands placed on their systems are different to that of an adult. Stresses and strains can show up in a child in many ways that are different to that which adults would experience.
As children grow older and begin to sit, crawl, balance and walk their natural inquisitive nature can result in falls and knocks that cause strain in a similar way to that of the adult on the sporting field. The difference with children is that they are still in a period of rapid growth and development. Often bones are still soft, growth plates are open and muscle strength is constantly in a state of catch up for body weight. Physical strain and injury, while not seemingly prolonged can cause alterations in joint and postural alignment that is reflected in future growth. The child’s body accommodates for the result of the forces involved and can affect ideal health. Such conditions may present as:
- complaints of joint, muscle or back pain.
- delayed physical milestones. Eg, crawling, walking.
- poor balance and/or co-ordination.
- recurrent infections/illness.
- digestive difficulties.
- behavioural and learning difficulties.
In treating babies and children, Osteopathic techniques are also safe and effective for the treatment of conditions such as:
- Growing pains
- Knee, heel and foot pain
- Neck & shoulder pain due to computer use and poor studying posture
- Low back pain associated with heavy school bags
- Muscle strains and tears
- Repetitive injuries associated with sports
- Injuries associated with contact sports or playground falls
Don’t forget about Mum!!
During pregnancy your body undergoes immense physical, hormonal and emotional changes exerting their effects by softening up tendons and ligaments. The position of the growing baby, mother’s postural changes and increased weight will logically place additional pressure on joints and muscles of the spine and pelvis.
The benefits of these hormonal changes is preparation for babies passage through the birth canal however, should a mothers structure be already compromised or under strain, the growing pregnancy could place a much greater strain leading to increased back and leg pain.
Osteopathic treatment can be very helpful throughout pregnancy for pain reduction and preparation for labor. As well as helping to reduce back, hip or leg pain, osteopathy can also assist your body in preparation for labor and delivery. And after baby is born, a check-up can help you to recover from the strains of birth while helping to prevent possible long term problems of the back, neck and pelvis. Overall, postnatal treatment can help with preventative care, allowing you to relax and enjoy your new baby.
A Father and Practitioner’s Point of View – Testimonial from David Ballantyne
First on our newborn’s list of things to do was to see Dr Lyttle for a structural alignment after the tight squeeze through the birth canal on his way into the world. Baby gave a cry as the sore spots were found and then we watched him melt in Dr Lyttle’s hands as the tension unwound and his body relaxed. The cranial adjustment was immediate in bringing down his high palate which the lactation consultant had identified as being a problem preventing him from latching onto the breast successfully for feeding. After a follow up to address some stomach issues, the transformation has been dramatic to have a baby who feeds well, burps easier and sleeps better.