If a baby is uncomfortable it will cry. Babies cry for a reason. When medical conditions have been ruled out and a baby is still crying a lot then it may be that they are still experiencing after-effects of birth or time in the womb. Things that can affect babies in birth are; a long labour, a very short labour or medical intervention of forceps or ventouse. Babies may already be quite compressed from the last few weeks in the womb as there is then very little space and the baby is often lying in one position and so can get compression their bodies from that. In both these situations cranial work helps to reduce the compressions and strains in the baby’s body and nervous system and helps the body expand back into its full state of ease. Once baby is comfortable again this helps bonding between parent and baby.
Colic affects up to 20% of babies and can be very upsetting to both baby and parents. I recommend a dual approach to managing colic; having cranial work and looking at the baby’s diet.
Cranial work. A study called A preliminary assessment of the impact of cranial osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic showed a marked reduction (40%) in crying and 9% increase in sleep between the treated and untreated babies. Cranial work for colic comprises general work to reduce any discomfort the baby may be experiencing and giving specific attention to the nerves that govern the digestive system (cranial nerve 10).
Baby’s diet The links below give a good coverage of diet and other aspects of colic.
- The NHS Colic page is a good place to start.
- The Journal of Family Health have a useful if longwinded (pun not intended) article on Management of Infantile Colic
- An interesting study called Intestinal Microbiota of Infants With Colic: Development and Specific Signatures shows a marked difference in microflora in the digestive systems of babies who develop colic and may indicate that suitable baby probiotics may help
Reflux in babies is their version of heartburn where acid from the stomach comes up into the oesophagus causing pain. This may be evident in spitting up milk, or it may be silent, where there is no evidence of milk coming up. The round muscle (sphincter) that keeps the top of the stomach closed is not doing its job completely. This may be because the diaphragm which surrounds the sphincter is holding tensions and this may be because the rib cage is also not at ease and balanced. Cranial work will evaluate and help release any tensions, and twists in the chest and diaphragm in order to allow the diaphragm to support the sphincter to do its job in keeping the content of the stomach in the stomach.
Head tilting to one side – Torticollis
This is commonly due to shortening of muscles on one side of the neck (torticollis) and can lead to a flattening of the head on one side – see below. Cranial work will give attention to how this shortening is occurring and help the body to self-correct.
Flattened head (Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly)
An increasing number of babies have flattened heads. Here is a useful summary page from the NHS and a similar page from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. The paper Palpatory diagnosis of plagiocephaly finds correlations between the incidence of flat heads and birth procedures. Cranial work helps take strains out of the base of the head and helps release restrictions that impede the inherent movement between the bones in the head and therefore helps the body to normalise its own structure.
The special plagiocephaly pillows can help the situation to not worsen, by helping the head to lie in different positions.
Sleep disturbed can happen for many reasons. When medical conditions have been eliminated, then many other conditions which give the baby discomfort may be the reason. Cranial work will help to address any of the other issues that may be causing discomfort, some of which are mentioned above.