Osteopathy for Babies, Children and Pregnancy

Children’s Clinic

Thursday afternoon 2-6pm

  • Pre and post natal checkups for mother and baby.
  • Baby check ups.
  • Osteopathic care during pregnancy.

Children and babies can of course be treated at other times too.

Osteopathy is best known for the treatment of back/joint and muscle pain.  However the benefits of Osteopathic treatment in pregnancy and childhood are becoming much more widely known and many of the mothers and children who come to see us at our practice come on personal recommendation from other parents.  This article aims to explain why a mother might want to consider Osteopathy for herself or her child.

Osteopathy is a hands on therapy designed to release abnormal stresses and strains in the body. This then facilitates the bodies own self-regulating healing forces to resolve the symptoms.  One of the basic principles of Osteopathy is that structure governs function, so that if an area of the body is not structurally sound, it cannot function normally.  With Osteopathic treatment we are assisting the body’s natural healing forces by applying gentle techniques to the structure to normalize the motion present. 

Osteopaths use their detailed knowledge of anatomy and physiology to assess the pattern and quality of motion in the tissues which tells a “story” of the traumas that have occurred and how well they have been compensated for. Many of our adult patients come with symptoms that have their origin in strain patterns that have occurred at birth or in childhood and have eventually reached a point where their body is unable to compensate and adapt any further which results in symptoms, usually of pain and discomfort which prompt them to seek help.

However treating during pregnancy and childhood can be viewed as a form of preventative medicine bringing the body back to a state of balance in health and thus promoting well being as the child grows rather than waiting for symptoms to present themselves.

During Pregnancy the body undergoes many changes, softening of the ligaments and the growing uterus cause postural changes; any underlying problems may be exacerbated and some mums may experience back-ache and pubic symphisis discomfort. Rebalancing the pelvis and lumbar spine with gentle Osteopathic techniques can alleviate such symptoms i.e. normalising the structure so it can function efficiently.

In the same way the birth process involves considerable forces coming to bear on the babies head as it passes through the birth canal from the contracting uterus, and on the maternal pelvis. The bones of the babies skull overlap to aid the passage of the head through the birthcanal.  In a well functioning situation the bodies own self correcting systems aided by the process of suckling and crying assists any moulding of the babies head to normalize.  Hence the compressive forces followed by a process of expansion resulting in a good cry allow the normal growth and development to become established.

These are the forces that Osteopaths skilled in the Cranial approach can palpate as patterns of motion   So even in a normal birth checking that the baby is well balanced can aid this process of growth and development.

However in more traumatic births such as Ventouse and Forceps deliveries and even prolonged labour, or very fast labour more compressive strains can occur, this can result in a distressed and shocked baby.  Caesarean delivery too may not be stress free for the baby or mother and does not allow for the normal compression and expansion. In all these types of births if the jaw and neck are strained this 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 nervous supply to the tongue and diaphragm can be irritated by such strains resulting in some of the symptoms usually attributed to Colic, such as problems with winding, digestive disturbance, pain and distress.

Poor sleep patterns and an inability to establish deep sleep can be attributed to discomfort in the head and neck which is often exacerbated now that babies sleep on their backs

Plagiocephaly (odd head shape) is more common now that babies sleep on their backs as this position exacerbates any underlying strain, frequently these strains will resolve if treated at an early stage.

As time goes on babies grow into their strain patterns and their systems can be compromised by coping in this way. So that poor immune function, developmental problems, asthma and eczema are but a few of the conditions that can manifest in a challenged system.

Osteopathy doesn’t claim to treat the conditions but to improve the functioning of the body particularly the involuntary mechanism which is expressed as motion throughout all the tissues which Osteopaths are trained to feel. This particular training has resulted in the term Cranial Osteopathy, which is a misnomer as it implies treatment to the head only. In reality we are simply Osteopaths who include the head in our search to understand the whole body.  Cranial Osteopathy is particularly appropriate for babies and children, as it is a gentle approach but profound in action.

Osteopaths specialising in the treatment of babies and children frequently have training in the Cranial field.  Biodynamic Osteopathy is another term you may come across; again it is a further field of study based in Embryology (the study of the growth and formation of the body in utero).