As babies make their way through the birth canal their bodies are designed to twist and tuck, and their heads mold and when given time and patience they are able to be born without much assistance at all. The human body is made to do this process and although it may seem extreme it is exactly what their tiny bodies are designed to do. Oftentimes, care providers get in a hurry for fear of the cord becoming compressed once the head is out, they may apply traction on the infant’s head to “help.” In extreme cases, forceps or a vacuum extractor is used. The newborn body was made to withstand and even benefit from the pressure of push of the uterine contraction, but this pulling and traction from the care provider is not a normal part of the process. Even babies born via cesarean have experienced a shock to their system. The moment the incision is made in the amniotic sac and a drastic pressure change is experienced, much like a scuba diver coming up too quickly. They are also being tugged and pulled as they exit the uterus.
This “assisted” delivery either vaginally or through surgery can cause lots of issues for the newborn such as strains on the muscles, fascia, tissues, and joints throughout the body. If left untreated this can cause long-term issues such as hyperactivity, dyslexia, and even spina bifida. If treated soon after birth this can easily be corrected by the gentle touch of a craniosacral therapist.
Craniosacral therapy works with the semi-hydraulic system of the cerebral spinal fluid. This fluid cleanses and nourishes the nervous system as it reaches every cell of the brain. This system is around the brain and down the spinal cord. It also works with gentle releases of the fascial system so that the body can unwind any tension that was created during the delivery of the baby. The sooner you treat the baby the fewer treatments they will likely need. If it is possible to treat them within 24 hours after birth it may only take a few minutes.
Some common ailments that can often be corrected with CST include; colic, reflux, torticollis, latching/breastfeeding issues, and in some cases tongue tie. For example, the fascial system connects from the tongue all the way down to the toes. So if there is a misalignment in the body, something tight in the baby’s pelvis, this can create the illusion of a tongue tie and the newborn may have trouble creating a good latch. In cases of plagiocephaly, the child may go through a few treatments to help release the many bones in the skull that may have become jammed either from a forceps delivery or even from the infant being malpositioned for an extended time during pregnancy. Often these children are treated by wearing a helmet to help the head shape over time. CST can be done alongside helmet therapy or can be utilized instead of the helmet. Each case is individual and a team effort is best.
Parents may be hesitant to have someone touching their newborn’s head. They can find peace in knowing that a craniosacral therapist will never tug, push, or pull on their newborn. The pressure that they use is less than the weight of a nickel (5 grams.) and they are always following the bodies lead and allowing it to release rather than forcing it to release. Many therapists also will do a treatment on the parents as this can help them feel comfortable with the therapy and the treatment is relaxing to the new parents.
In addition to being relaxing for new parents, women who are having trouble with lactation have found positive results in having a craniosacral treatment when they take their baby in. This treatment helps the body function in it’s the best way possible and so whether it was a physical reason or an emotional reason why the mother may have been producing little or no milk, this treatment can often help get her milk flowing with easy let down so that breastfeeding can not only happen but also it can be enjoyable to the mother.
CranioSacral therapy is a wonderful and gentle tool for helping newborns and their families get off to the right start. Many complications of childhood can be ended before they even show signs of starting. There are several hospitals that are utilizing CST professionals in the NICU unit and finding great results with the development and health outcomes of the infants treated. It has no adverse effects if done properly by a trained craniosacral therapist so there is really no reason not to give it a try. It could be the difference between breastfeeding success or feeding from the bottle.