Osteopathic treatment may assist a range of health conditions in babies. The gentler, non-manipulative techniques in osteopathy are especially suitable for treating young children, including newborn infants.
Birth is a very physical and perhaps stressful process on a baby’s body. At birth, much of a baby’s skeleton is very soft, especially the plate-like bones that make up the skull. These ‘plates’ are quite soft and malleable, and are designed to overlap and glide over each other, enabling them to sustain the forces of labour and allow the head to pass through the birth canal. However, this pliability may mean that they are susceptible to strain and ‘moulding’, which is often evident after birth in babies that have asymmetrical, flattened or markedly pointed head shapes.
A degree of moulding is normal, and usually resolves within the first few days after birth along with the normal processes of adapting to breath in air, crying, and sucking. However, in some cases the moulding can be retained, and may need assistance. An osteopath trained in the care of infants, can assist you with the management of preventing flat spots on an infants head or asymmetrical preferences in the position of their necks.
Such problems may well be accentuated if there has been a difficult presentation or a very quick or perhaps a prolonged labour; a breach delivery, or when a baby has a relatively large head and mum has a smaller pelvis where the fit between the two has been especially stressful, or, if the delivery has been assisted with forceps or vacuum extraction for example.
Parent’s will often discuss different situations with an osteopath such as: –
In assessing a baby the osteopath will take a comprehensive history of the pregnancy and birth, as well as asking questions about their early health and behaviour. They will carry out routine medical examinations as well as making a specific osteopathic assessment. This may include such procedures such as listening to the baby’s breathing and heart sounds, testing their reflexes and assessing their developmental stage. The osteopath will then examine the baby from top to toe taking note of the whole body framework including the spine, pelvis, chest, limbs and head.
Osteopaths are trained to detect strain patterns throughout the whole the body including the spine and cranium. They use their highly developed sense of touch, known as palpation, to assess the subtle movements of the body and use equally gentle techniques to alleviate restrictions to movement and growth. Treatment is aimed to help the baby to grow, develop and function in as unrestricted, balanced and happy manner as is possible. Early detection and treatment of restricted mobility can help prevent the development of problems later on.
Osteopathic treatment is applied in a gentle and safe manner after full evaluation of the children and their suitability for osteopathic care. Following treatment most babies are relaxed and sleep well afterwards, but some however may appear unsettled or ‘grizzly’. This is a temporary situation, which usually settles down within 24-48 hours as the baby’s body adjusts to the changes made during treatment.
If you are unsure as to whether or not your baby is suitable for treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.
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