Advice - Osteopathy for Calmer Newborns (and Mothers)
Gentle physical therapy may be the answer for an unsettled baby

Osteopathy for Calmer Newborns (and Mothers)


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Gentle physical therapy may be the answer for an unsettled baby

Some great advice on paediatric osteopathy for babies courtesy of About Birth contributor Dr. Clare Gordon and her clinic Liforce Osteopathy:

Birth is a wonderful part of the cycle of life and can sometimes be a beautiful and stress-free event. However, labour can also be very demanding and stressful on both the mother and the baby.

Strain or ‘Moulding’ to your child during pregnancy

At birth, much of a baby’s skeleton is more like cartilage, especially the plate-like bones that make up the skull. These bones 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. This may have occurred after a difficult labour due to:

  • The position and/or size of the baby
  • The position of the mother’s pelvis
  • The labour may be unusually long or short, or
  • If intervention has been used like forceps delivery or ventouse extraction.
  • Trauma from a Caesar delivery if the baby is stuck in the mother’s pelvis.

A degree of moulding is normal, and usually resolves within the first few days after birth along with the normal processes of adapting to breathing 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 is 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 body functions such as feeding, digestion and breathing, and may cause other imbalances in the rest of the body.

The result of a difficult birth can present as:

  • Irritability
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulties feeding i.e not attaching well and/or favouring one side
  • Colic
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Digestive problems
  • Misshapen head
  • Difficulties sleeping for long periods or not settling well

Osteopaths with post-graduate training in paediatrics are trained to detect any strains or patterns in the body that may be affecting the baby. They are trained to have a highly developed sense of touch that will allow them to assess the subtle movements of the baby’s skull and body. They use gentle approaches to treatment to release any strains or restrictions they find. This in turn will stimulate the baby’s own inherent healing mechanism and return them to a more healthier (and happier) state.

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