Working with babies
Babies who might benefit from Craniosacral Therapy include
those who suffer from;
•Disturbed sleep patterns
•Excessive crying or generally seem unsettled
•Feeding problems either with going to the breast or drawing the nipple in
•Or were born by Ventouse or Forceps
•Born by caesarean either elective or emergency
•Who experienced a long or traumatic delivery
•Who laboured or were born in the OP position (back to back)
•Who had some form of resuscitation or suctioning
•Babies whose umbilical cord was cut quickly
•Babies born small for dates
•Born with the cord around the neck
A baby’s skull is designed so that it protects the delicate brain inside even when under great pressure, as in the birth process. This is made possible because some of the bones of the skull have been designed to allow a great deal of flexibility thus allowing the head to change shape or mould as it descends through the pelvis and birth canal.
The skull is made up of two forms of bone, cartilage and membrane.
The base or floor of the skull is made from cartilage that provides strength and protection to the most delicate parts of the brain, whereas the bones of the vault, which is most of the head above the eyes, are formed from membrane. These membranous bones allow flexibility so not only can they adapt and accommodate to the stresses of the birth process but they also allow for growth and expansion of the developing brain.
Plainly put the baby’s skull is a bit like a balloon with stiffening plates in it, mounted on a more rigid but still slightly flexible base.
During labour the baby’s head experiences large compressive forces as it enters the pelvis and is pushed against the cervix by the contractions. These forces remain as the head twists and turns during its descent through the pelvic cavity and negotiates the resistance from the pelvic floor muscles. The pressure placed on the head and neck can result in distortion of the bones of the skull and as a result some babies end up with extremely odd-shaped heads when they are born. The softer membranous bones are more able to return to normal after the birth whereas the stiffer cartilage based bones are less pliable.
After delivery the skull begins to re-expand and un-mould to return to its normal shape, assisted by the baby crying, sucking and yawning. After only 10 days the vault of the baby’s head will look quite different as the overlapped and squashed bones free up. It is distortions of the cranial base that are harder for the baby to resolve and can have an affect on the brain and in particular some of the cranial nerves as they exit from holes within and between the bones of the cranial base. An example of this is colic, often caused by compression of the Vagus nerve as it exits the cranial base. This nerve has a relationship with the stomach and digestive tract but can also keep the baby in a more activated state thus the baby can suffer from colic, excessive crying, tummy ache and sleep difficulties.
•Effects of retained moulding on the baby include;
•Unsettled and restless behaviour
•Excessive feeding or sucking
•Digesting food difficulties
There are many reasons why babies may experience feeding or sucking problems including procedures carried out after birth. If the baby had oral suctioning, resuscitation or a tube passed to help it feed there may be guarding of the airway thus the baby may be hesitant to draw anything, including a nipple deep into its mouth.
Babies born by caesarean are widely thought to escape most if not all of the above but in reality the fast nature of this birth process gives little warning to the baby that something is about to change and as a result these babies often suffer from shock.
Craniosacral therapy works with these physical and emotional restrictions and birth patterns to try and release them using gentle, non-invasive touch. As the restrictions release so to should the symptoms enabling mother and baby to enjoy their early days and months together.
The therapist will observe the baby and through a light contact become aware of the birth patterns present. It is common for babies to want to have cuddles or even a feed during the treatment so plenty of space is given in the treatment to accommodate this.
Babies and children tend to respond well to craniosacral treatment, generally requiring fewer sessions than most adults. The treatment process is gentle, non-invasive and completely respectful of the physical and emotional needs of the individual baby/child.
The treatment of babies and children is a specialist field within craniosacral therapy.