Publication
National Childbirth Trust (NCT) Magazine
Location
Clapham Branch
Date
March 2012
Original Article
Download pdf

Heading off colic

Adam Beaumont performing Cranial Osteopathy

You have a new addition to your family but somehow this new baby doesn't seem very happy. Adam Beaumont a local registered osteopath discusses the benefits of Cranial Osteopathy.

There seems to be a lot of crying and general irritability. You can't quite put your finger on it. You have been to see your GP who has checked the baby over and is unable to find anything wrong. She suggests that it is colic and that you just have to live through it. Sound familiar? It is a frustrating, distressing and upsetting time for the parents. What else can you do?

You will be offered plenty of advice, much of it useful, such as trying Infacol (an antiflatulent), keeping the baby more upright and so on, but it helps if you understand what colic could be. In this article I will talk about the osteopathic view on this and how osteopathy might help.

Firstly the symptoms usually follow a pattern: the baby may well be windy or flatulent, he may seem to be in pain or at least uncomfortable with a tense, occasionally distended stomach and the baby will cry sometimes, being seemingly inconsolable at times. The peak period for these symptoms is classically between the times of six in the evening and midnight. The baby may also suffer from sleeping problems.

Adam Beaumont performing Cranial Osteopathy

Osteopathic view of what may be contributing to the problem

Should your baby display any or all of these symptoms, it may be reassuring to remember that most infants with colic do put on weight well and, although it is a distressing condition, it is unlikely to indicate any serious illness. Secondly, roughly 30% to 40% of babies suffer from colicky type symptoms most of which, it is believed, resolve themselves by the time the child is around three months old. However, there is one study which suggests that approximately 12% of infants suffering from colic will continue to have symptoms beyond the age of six months.

No one really knows what causes colic but here is the osteopathic view of what may be contributing to the problem.

Firstly, many osteopaths believe that the vagus nerve which exits from the base of the skull and supplies the stomach and the upper part of the intestines can be irritated or compressed. It is particularly vulnerable to distortion during the birth process and, if irritated, is thought to make the stomach more sensitive, contributing to the colicky symptoms. Many parents who have babies delivered by caesarean section believe that their babies are unlikely to suffer from colic but this is not always the case. With an emergency caesarean the baby might well have been stuck in the birth canal for some time experiencing strong contractions. As such, it is likely that these babies will have suffered as much compression and pressure as those babies born vaginally so leading to the same symptoms. For many osteopaths it does not matter whether a baby is born by emergency or elective caesarean as they feel that the baby experiences a sort of shock owing to the suddenness of the birth. One moment they are warm and secure in a dark place and next they are in a brightly lit room with all sorts of strange things happening to them! It isn't really very surprising that this can cause their nervous system to overreact.

Relieve the pressure & tension of a traumatic birth

Lastly, it is thought that the over-sensitivity of the gut is one way in which the brain responds to stress. This in turn affects the sympathetic nervous system which aids in the control of many of the body's internal organs. Many babies today arrive having had a traumatic birth and been delivered with the aid of forceps or ventouse. Or indeed they may have slight compression from the pressure on their head during a normal birth. Whatever the cause, osteopathic treatment aims to relieve the pressures and tensions that are found in the cranium. It does this in a very gentle way. There is no pushing or pulling but rather the osteopath feels for tension in the tissues and then holds the tissue in a way that the body wants it to go until it releases. This allows the body to calm itself and become more relaxed. Most people think that this treatment is done through the head possibly because osteopaths who use this treatment call themselves cranial osteopaths but osteopathy treats the whole body and, although attention is paid to the head, treatment is also aimed at the diaphragm, the rib cage and the gut itself.

Cranial osteopathy for babies is a very gentle, effective form of osteopathy that is suitable for babies of all ages. It can help ease the trauma of birth, giving babies a healthy, happy start in life.

Osteopathy is also very effective in treating symptoms of pregnancy and helping women recover after birth. During pregnancy and birth the body has had to adapt to enormous physical, chemical and emotional changes over a short period of time. Osteopathy can help to put everything gently back into place.

What osteopaths can find in babies; Oscar's Story

The following case history is typical of what osteopaths can find in babies, usually as a result of birth trauma.

Oscar, a 10 week old baby, was brought to see me recently by his parents with the following symptoms: he was distressed and crying most of the day. He was difficult to wind and would go rigid after feeds, sometimes arching his back. He always wanted to be held and to be kept upright.

The pregnancy was unremarkable but the birth had been traumatic for both mother and baby as he was a chin presentation and ended up being delivered via an emergency caesarean. Interestingly enough he was silent when he entered the world.

On examination of him I found that the back of his head felt particularly crowded and, where his head rested on the spine, there was a good deal of compression. There was also a tightness around his diaphragm. These areas were relieved in the first treatment and on his second visit his parents reported he was feeding and sleeping better and that he was much calmer with fewer periods of irritability. He was discharged after the third treatment.

Say's Oscar's mum:

My husband and I took Oscar to Adam for three sessions and I can honestly say he is a changed baby. He is so much happier and calmer; yes he cries like all babies but thankfully doesn't display any fractiousness and pain-like behaviour he was showing before.

The treatment has really worked for Oscar and I would certainly highly recommend it to others experiencing the same heartache. Oscar responded really well to Adam who was so calm, handling him so carefully.

Adam also gave us invaluable advice in encouraging Oscar to turn his head towards the left as he was constantly turning to the right and so developing a flat-head. I am converted and quite honestly astonished.

Consider trying cranial osteopathy if your baby had a traumatic or difficult birth or is he is suffering from any of the following:

  • Colic, sickness and excessive wind
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Misshapen head
  • Trauma after difficult delivery (forceps, ventouse, or induction)
Publication
National Childbirth Trust (NCT) Magazine
Location
Clapham Branch
Date
March 2012
Original Article
Download pdf

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