Your birth story is unique. Subtle events within the processes of labour shape your birth experience. Whether joyful or fraught, recounting the birth story can be a profoundly healing experience while communicating the subtle shifts in the labouring process that describe for the Osteopath the impact of birth on mother and baby. Your birth story is part of the healing process interwoven with gentle treatment to resolve physical and sometimes emotional trauma surrounding birth.
Treating the new-born at birth or soon after is an immense privilege. Gentle corrective Osteopathic techniques to resolve mechanical strains from labour can enable the soft ‘gel’ like bones of the new-born to return to their natural position and permit strains within neck and base of the skull to be released so that baby can turn its head fully and comfortably. The ‘thinking, knowing, seeing fingers’ of Osteopathic touch* offer techniques to release the muscles of tongue and throat area so the baby with suckling difficulty may open their mouth fully, latch effectively, suckle efficiently and breathe comfortably.
The fascinating thing is that your baby’s head is designed for birth. The bones at the base of the skull are formed in cartilage resilient to protect structures of the brain during birth. The bones forming the shape of the head develop in membrane and are designed to overlap during the compressive strains of labour. Nature’s way of permitting birth and safeguarding the passage of the baby. It is understood by Osteopaths that the resiliency and pliancy of the bones of the infant’s head correspondingly help the labour process, positioning and guiding but also influence timing too.
The powerful suckle of the new-born stimulates the resolution of some strains quite naturally, but where strains causing restriction or overlapping of bones of the head persists, prolonged crying and persistent wakefulness can sometimes occur. It is helpful to assist the little bones back into their correct position for optimal function and restoring well-being. Persistent strains in the head can occasionally, lead to distortion and shape change in the head, a condition termed ‘plagiocephaly’ where a ‘flat spot’ in the skull develops and baby may tend to lie with its head always to one side. Tummy time is important, up to one hour per day, in little chunks, whether on your lap, lying on your chest, in the bath, or on the play mat. Gentle corrective work of an Osteopath permits full resolution of this troubling condition. Check out the Sleepcurve activity mat designed by an Osteopath so your baby is not lying on a flat surface: www.sleepcurve.com.
Remember Osteopaths work for mums and babies together to restore function and permit health. An exhausted mum with bruised pelvis following difficult labour needs specialist care. It is essential that mum is well, so I offer a special ‘Mum and Baby’ rate, so mum gets a check-up too!
*Dr WG Sutherland, founder of Cranial Osteopathy from ‘The Cranial Bowl’, 1939
Carolyn McGregor is a registered Osteopath specialising in Cranial Osteopathy.
18 Florence Place, Newlyn, Penzance. TR18 5PT