Osteopathy for Babies and Children
Ranza Barr BSc(Hons)Ost., D.O.
Ranza Barr is based at the Wakefield Osteopathic Centre and The Fern Osteopathic Practice in York.
She kindly answered several of the questions Dream Time parents had for her.
‘How can Cranial Osteopathy help babies & children?’
The natural process of birth imposes considerable forces on the mother’s pelvis and the baby as it passes through the birth canal from the contracting uterus. The bones of the baby’s skull overlap to aid the passage of the head through the birth canal. The compressive forces, followed by a process of expansion as the baby exits, results in a good cry and allows the normal growth and development to become established. In a well-functioning situation, the body’s own self-correcting systems aided by the process of suckling and crying assists any moulding of the baby’s head to normalise.
Osteopaths skilled in the cranial approach are able to palpate retained strain patterns held within the baby. (Even in a ‘normal’ birth, checking and ensuring that the baby’s system is well-balanced can optimise the process of growth and development.)
However, not all births are ‘straightforward’.
In traumatic births such as ventouse, forceps deliveries, prolonged labour, back-to-back deliveries, or a very fast labour, more compressive strains can occur. This can result in a distressed and shocked baby. Sometimes the baby’s jaw and/or neck are strained which may affect feeding because the baby finds it difficult to turn and latch well and to open their mouth fully. Sometimes it is thought the nerve supply to the tongue and diaphragm can be irritated by such strains resulting in some of the symptoms usually attributed to Colic. (eg. Problems with winding, digestive disturbance, pain and distress).
Caesarean delivery is not stress-free for the baby or mother and does not allow for the normal forces of compression and expansion. Often, C-section babies tend to have a particular type of strain pattern due to the sudden emergence from womb to world!