People often wonder why I treat infants. Breastfeeding difficulties, digestive upsets, sleep disturbances and colic are the most common reasons for consulting.
Being born isn’t easy! Long labours and difficult deliveries can contribute to strains in an infant’s body as they are compressed, twisted or stuck in one position for extended periods of time. Orientation in utero, such as transverse lie, can also create tensions that persist post delivery.
A study of more than one thousand infants, conducted by the Osteopathic Centre for Children in San Diego (Frymann, 1966), found approximately 10% of infants had significant distortions in shape and mobility of the tissues in their head. Eighty percent showed moderate strains and only 10% had no significant structural dysfunctions. Tensions along the spine, pelvis and extremities are frequent findings too.
Sometimes these tensions are apparent – misshapen heads or banana-shaped bodies; often they are more subtle – diaphragm or pelvic mobility restrictions. Of course, our bodies are designed to deal with this. Suckling, yawning and crying all help ease strains in the cranial membranes and correct the alignment of the bones. Kicking helps mobilize the pelvis and stimulate sluggish bowels. However, too much tension can be difficult to overcome and present as difficulty latching or sucking, irritability, poor sleep, frequent spitting up, gassiness or constipation. Early intervention can facilitate breastfeeding, relieve discomfort and remove the obstacles to healthy self-correction throughout the entire body.
10 Signs Your Baby Could Benefit From Osteopathy
What are some signs your baby could benefit from osteopathic treatment?
- Difficulty latching
- Favouring one side for feeding
- An unevenly-shaped head
- Always turning head to the same side while lying down
- Disliking touch of the head or neck
- Arching backward
- Tugging or poking at an eye or ear
- Frequent inconsolable crying
- Difficulty sleeping
- Spitting up large quantities of milk post-feeding
As an osteopathic manual practitioner, my role is to assess and release any restrictions creating discomfort or dysfunction for your baby. I use very gentle craniosacral and myofascial techniques to encourage, rather than force, a response from the tissue.
The goal is to restore normal mobility of the musculoskeletal system, balance the nervous system and optimize blood, lymphatic and cerebrospinal fluid flow. Treatment can improve feeding, digestion, and elimination, decrease fussiness and improve sleep. A harmonious physical state also allows for greater resiliency to deal with future challenges.
A British study (Hayden and Mullinger, 2006) found osteopathic treatment benefited infants by reducing crying and improving sleep. Another study conducted in Italy (Pizzolorusso et al., 2011) found treatment reduced gastrointestinal dysfunction and the length of hospital stays for premature infants.
Infants and children typically respond very quickly to treatment as the problems have not had years to become entrenched. Many difficulties resolve in just a few visits; some take longer. I can teach you things you can do at home to help create better health for your child too.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any concerns about your child’s health and wellbeing.
Dr. Viola Frymann, Founder of the Osteopathic Center for Children in San Diego, died on January 24, 2016, at age 94. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to study with her and hope to carry on her mission to help “every child reach their potential.”
Frymann V. M. (1966). Relation of disturbances of craniosacral mechanisms to symptomatology of the newborn: study of 1,250 infants. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 65:1059-1075.
Hayden, C. Mulling, B. (2006). A preliminary assessment of the impact of cranial osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 12 (2):83-90.
Pizzolorusso, G., Turi, P., Barlafante, G., Cerritelli F., Renzetti, C., Cozzolino, V., … D’Incecco, C. (2013). Effect of osteopathic manipulative treatment on gastrointestinal function and length of stay of preterm infants: an exploratory study. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 19(1):15.