After nine months, the birth of a baby should be an exciting and joyous occasion, However, Osteopathic research suggests that up to 80% of newborns have experienced some form of birth trauma. Infants may be irritable, have poor feeding, and appear in pain without apparent reason. However, often times they really are in pain. Tight muscles, restricted or tight tongues, and twisting of connective tissue can be the result of traumatic birth. They may have discomfort in the feeding position, prefer turning their head to one side but not the other, and difficulties with digestion. Gentle osteopathic techniques can help to resolve and balance areas of physical tension, helping to soothe and relax as well as promoting freer movement where the muscles have been tight.
Birth is a natural part of the cycle of life. However, for the healthcare industry too often it is considered a medical procedure. part of life. However, al births are not ideal. Poor maternal nutrition structural inadequacies before pregnancy, drug use (properly prescribed and otherwise), psychosocial stress, inadequate preparation for labor, and inadequate first breath secondary to anesthesia use can further complicate matters. Even an uncomplicated natural delivery can leave some residual strain in a baby’s body. In the event of a prolonged labor, a fast labor, or interventions such as forceps, ventouse or Caesarian section, a baby can experience adverse side effects. Misshapen head, haematomas, facial bruising, torticollis and clavicle fractures are just some of the possible physical results.
These conditions can cause a baby significant discomfort; but more than that, if left unresolved, they may lead to further challenges that adversely affect feeding, settling and adequately reaching milestones. A comprehensive Osteopathic newborn exam is indicated for all newborns. Moreover, if your baby is showing signs of discomfort, is particularly unsettled or not feeding well it is essential care.
Breastfeeding is perfectly natural but it is also a learned skill, both for babies and for mothers, and in some cases difficulties do occur. Breastfeeding issues can present in a number of ways, such as nipple pain, an unsettled baby and poor feeding (such as fussing, falling asleep at the breast or clicking while feeding).
Tongue tie can be another clinical cause of breastfeeding difficulties in some babies. Tethered oral tissue (‘tongue tie’) restricts adequate tongue movement and therefore prevents efficient sucking.
Good attachment at the breast, a coordinated suck and adequate milk transfer involves the lips, cheeks, tongue, mouth, jaw and more. As osteopaths, we aim to enhance the function of these structures so as to improve a mother and baby’s ability to breastfeed successfully.
Tummy time is a precursor to rolling and crawling and is vital to the development of strong postural control. Some babies dislike being placed on their tummy and sometimes there can be a physical underlying reason for their discomfort.
Rolling, creeping and crawling are all developmental milestones that give an indication of a baby’s neuromotor maturation. There is a recognised range in which typically developing babies attain these milestones. However, some babies can be slow in developing these skills. If there is an underlying musculoskeletal cause for this delay, osteopathic treatment may be able to help.
Successfully mastering cross-pattern crawling is an important foundational movement, one which helps build the neural circuits that connect the two sides of the brain. As osteopaths, we look at the many body parts that are involved in tummy time, rolling and crawling and treat any restrictions that may be inhibiting these motor skills from developing.
It is not uncommon for babies to show a preference to lie with their head to one particular side. This is most often the result of soft tissue injury to the newborn skull causing irritation to the Vagus nerve. This can affect the position of the soft cranial bones and create a flat spot. Plagiocephaly can develop if babies continue to lie on one side, creating an asymmetrical distortion of the skull. Congenital torticollis is a condition that some babies are born with, whereby the muscles on one side of the neck are significantly shortened and contracted. This causes the baby’s head to be held in a permanently tilted position.
As Osteopathic Physicians, we gently treat the musculoskeletal components of the head, face and neck to release the structures that are contributing to plagiocephaly. We regularly measure a baby’s head growth to monitor changes in shape over time. A baby with torticollis or plagiocephaly may have unique challenges around breastfeeding and these mothers may need extra support and advice during this time, which we can offer.