Cranial Osteopathy is a very gentle but powerful speciality within Osteopathy which is particularly useful for children, although people of all ages can benefit from this effective form of treatment. It can be particularly therapeutic if a child has had a difficult birth or for those "unsettled" babies as it encourages the release of stresses and tensions throughout the body.
Cranial osteopaths are trained to feel very subtle movement changes. This is called Involuntary Motion or the Cranial Rhythm. The movement is of very small amplitude and therefore it takes practitioners with a very finely developed sense of touch to feel it. Stress within the body disrupts the cranial rhythm. This change then indicates to the osteopath what stresses and strains your body is under at present, and what tensions you may be carrying as a result of its past history. It will also give them an insight into the overall wellbeing of your body. Every part of the body depends on other parts functioning correctly. To be in good health it is vital that all parts work well.
How can it benefit my baby?
During birth, the body is subjected to enormous forces as it is pushed along the birth canal. The baby has to turn and twist as it squeezes through the bony pelvis. During a normal labour the baby’s head is able to absorb these stresses; after all, it has evolved to do so. These stresses and strains are released naturally afterwards. This releasing process is aided by suckling, crying, yawning and feeding. However, this unmoulding process is often incomplete, especially if the birth has been difficult or was assisted with forceps or ventouse. As a result, the baby may have to live with some uncomfortable stresses within its head and body. Stress in pregnancy and during birth contribute to the general level of tension of the baby, and can keep the baby's nervous system in a persistently alert state. This can occur with either a difficult, or a very quick birth, the baby may find it difficult to relax fully and may have difficulty sleeping.
There is a theory that if the baby is in a persistently alert state, it's digestion can work too quickly. Milk may exit the stomach before it has had a chance to digest, and the partially digested milk enters the intestine where it may ferment and produce wind which can be uncomfortable for the baby.
How do I know if my baby needs treatment?
Obvious signs are excessive crying, unhappy or unsettled babies, feeding difficulties and sickness. Parents are often recommended to bring their children for treatment by their ante- or postnatal teacher, other parents, midwife, health visitor or general practitioner – especially following a difficult labour or quick delivery and particularly following an assisted delivery – forceps or ventouse.
How safe is it? Will it cause any discomfort?
Cranial osteopathy is very safe. Osteopaths are trained to recognise any major or minor problems and will contact the general practitioner, with your consent, in the event of any uncertainty or suspicion. A full case history is taken, including the mother’s health during pregnancy and any family history of medical conditions and most importantly, as much detail about the birth as possible.
Examination includes the function of the skeletal structure; gentle feeling of the fontanelles and a detailed assessment of the way the joints of the skull work in relation to each other. The approach also assesses breathing mechanics. The treatment is aimed at releasing strains within the system and the baby often relaxes and sleeps during this calming approach.
As children get older they can often be helped by a combination of cranial and structural Osteopathic approaches.
If you are unsure whether Cranial Osteopathy can help you or your child, please call for free advice: 01923 260535.