Introduction to Osteopathy for Children (A Cranial Approach)
It is common belief that babies and children should have no structural stresses or strains in their bodies, because they are “so young”. The reality is very different.
The birth of a baby is one of the most stressful events of our lives. The baby is subjected to enormous forces, as the uterus pushes to expel the baby, against the natural resistance of the birth canal. The baby has to turn and twist as it squeezes through the bony pelvis, on its short but highly stimulating and potentially stressful journey.
The baby’s head has the remarkable ability to absorb these stresses, in normal delivery. In order to reduce the size of the head, the soft bones overlap, bend and warp as the baby descends. The baby’s chin is normally well tucked down towards its chest to reduce the presenting diameter of the head.
Many babies are born with odd shaped heads as a result. In the first few days, the head can usually be seen to gradually lose the extreme moulded shape as the baby suckles, cries and yawns. However, this unmoulding process is often incomplete, especially if the birth has been difficult. As a result, the baby may have to live with some very uncomfortable stresses within its head and body.
Osteopathic treatment using the cranial approach is very gentle, safe and effective in the treatment of babies and children. Specific gentle pressure is applied where necessary to enable the inherent healing ability of the body to affect the release of stresses.
How many treatments will be needed?
On average 4-6 treatments are sufficient. This varies according to the severity of the problem.
When to treat
The younger the better, it is never too early to treat. For best results, treatment should be before the age of 5 years. After this, the stresses and asymmetries can often not be completely eliminated, but it is still possible to achieve beneficial release of the stresses throughout life.
Could there be any adverse reactions?
Reactions to treatment are variable; often the baby or child is very relaxed afterwards and sleeps well. Others have a burst of energy after treatment usually followed by a good night’s sleep. Occasionally children are unsettled after treatment. This is a temporary situation, and is usually caused when the release of the retained moulding has been incomplete. It is not always possible for all the retained moulding compression to release in one session, especially if it has been severe.