Israel Osteopathy

Osteopathy in Israel

אוסטאופתיה בישראל

Oliver Gordon עברית
Registered Osteopath – Pain & Joint Specialist
tel: 054-987-7589
The sleepless baby – the Osteopath’s point of view

This article is based on my experiences and observations as an Osteopath in the treatment of children and adults over the past six years. Parents often bring me children who are unable to sleep at night or even during the day. In order to understand the reasons for this, apart from the turbulent temperament of these children, I used the example of the following case in order to highlight how, in most cases, these difficulties can disappear with regular Osteopathic treatment.

Baby Yosef was three months old when his parents brought him to me. He slept barely 30 minutes during the day and would also wake up every two hours during the night. The only way to put him to sleep again was to nurse him and hug him until he fell asleep. Naturally, this pattern caused a high degree of stress for both parents – especially for the mother, who was also worried that the father got up for work every morning and did not sleep well at night.

When asked about the course of the three months since the birth, as well as about the pregnancy and the birth, it became clear that Yosef’s birth was not easy for the parents. It was their first child after two consecutive miscarriages. The contractions started on Saturday at 3 in the morning and until 4 in the afternoon the next day the dilation was only 7 cm. Yosef’s heartbeat became non-existent. Stability and the effect of the epidural began to wear off. Therefore, it was finally decided to deliver him by caesarean section. The umbilical cord loosely wrapped around Yosef’s neck twice and this prevented him from going all the way down the cervix.

Nevertheless, his birth weight was 3.3 kilograms and his Apgar scores were anything above 9. He had a little trouble nursing at first but soon latched onto the breast and seemed content. The problem started after about six weeks when Yosef suffered from a mild flu which caused him to become restless and since then his sleep has been disturbed.

We examined Yosef and found several reasons that might have contributed to his insomnia. Some of these are findings that an Osteopath with cranial training can find but these do not necessarily affect the baby in a negative way, nevertheless in Yosef’s case all the data added together and created the problem

Our conclusions were as follows Yosef had a tight diaphragm (the breathing muscle that spans your chest so that all the ribs move during each breath).
This led to a lack of proper massaging of his stomach contents, slowing of bowel activity and mild constipation – all of which made him uncomfortable.
A stapled diaphragm is often caused by prolonged labor but is usually the result of a caesarean section. The baby does not expect to come out into the world in such a sudden way. This can be compared to the situation where you ‘jump out of your skin’, you feel a hollow and uncomfortable feeling in your stomach caused by a sudden contraction of the diaphragm – the baby does not close it as easily as adults, especially when it comes to the moment he uses his diaphragm for the first time – Yosef’s skull bones displayed very little or no movement on each other – Yosef had no routine – Yosef received a regular compensation every time he woke up

From an Osteopath’s point of view, the movement of skull bones is of great importance in distributing the fluid that washes the brain and spinal cord. Less movement means more stepping on the spot and less nutrient turnover for the brain tissue.

In this case the expected effect of this condition is pain in the skull, headache, sensitivity to wearing hats or touching the head.

The Osteopaths also believe that this rhythmic movement of skull bones has a correlation with our internal clock. In adults these movements are naturally slower at night and faster during the day – this correlates with most of our patterns of overactivity during the day and less activity at night. On the other hand babies have no concept of night or day because they have been in a dark environment for nine months so their body clock is synchronized with that of their parents. This can be achieved by a routine that can be managed with practical ease. The baby needs regular sleeping and eating times from as early as possible, there are very strict instructions on this matter but I cannot stress enough the importance of some kind of routine.

In a good routine, the baby should go to sleep at fixed times no matter where he is, but it is expected to take a few weeks to reach such a balanced routine. It works and the babies I take care of are proof of that. The only reason for difficulty in balancing such a routine would be if there is something in their body that prevents it from existing.

In addition, Yosef was given food every time he woke up and then received a hug until he fell asleep. This pattern is understandable because we as parents want to do everything in order for the baby to go back to sleep. Therefore, if it works it is very good but it is possible that in this way you are preparing yourself for a future problem like in the case of Yosef’s parents. Yosef was full and dry when he woke up but he still received a hug and food – all the ingredients that make a baby happy. But from the baby’s point of view – with a life like this why not wake up every two hours? That’s great! We must remember that Yosef had no sense of day or night.

My advice to his parents was not to feed him if he is still full but to just hold him for a few nights and then only go into his room to encourage him (without eye contact) and maintain a feeding routine at night as needed.

The result

The result was inevitable, within ten days Yosef slept twice a day (two and a half hours in total) and only woke up at three in the morning for his regular feeding. When he came to me at the end of this period he was smiling and looking so cute with his blue hat!
Probably 50% of the improvement was with the help of Osteopathy, the rest was reassuring the parents and guiding them on how to create a regular routine – the magic cocktail!

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