The challenges of pregnancy and birth can result in different stresses and strains on newborns and new mum’s alike. The space for growth in the uterus, as well as the process of delivery can exert forces on the babies’ bodies that may impact on their overall comfort, feeding, digestion, breathing and growth. You may see signs of this in their first few weeks, or later on as they grow and develop. All mums remember how the contractions felt, but we sometimes forget the babies were in the middle of all that pressure!
Babies’ heads are cleverly designed so that the individual bones of the skull can overlap to allow them through the birth canal. Naturally as the newborn cries and feeds this helps relieve this pressure and facilitates the skull bones settling into a normal position. However, sometimes unusually long or short labours, and the use of forceps or suction can inhibit the baby’s recovery time.
Parents may find that their baby has difficultly with their neck movement, which can result in baby preferring to lay facing in one direction, prefering to feed facing one way, or a flattening of their head-shape in one spot.
The moulding of a baby’s head shape can also affect the way in which their eyes, nose, ears and mouth function. You may find that your newborn has eye or ear infections, finds it hard to latch or swallows too much air when feeding so gets trapped wind or spits up a lot, snores or has a snotty nose.
We would love to think that all babies curl up like church mice inside the uterus, but many like to stretch out into to what may seem like high grade yoga poses with one foot behind their ear or arms and legs all over the place. Similarly the twists and turns of birth can affect their joints and muscles resulting in an unsettled baby that cannot seem to get comfortable, arches their back or screams when you put them in the car seat, or maybe prefers to be held to fall asleep.
Our osteopath Kathryn has focused her postgraduate training on supporting newborns and mum’s through these early few months. Kathryn will take a detailed history and examine the baby thoroughly to assess if osteopathic treatment is appropriate. Paediatric osteopathy and cranial osteopathy techniques are very gentle, using the natural movements of the baby and their breathing to ease the tensions held in the body.
These are some of the signs and symptoms that parents commonly discuss with their osteopath:
- Difficulties with the positioning of their baby’s neck or a preference to face one way (known as torticollis)
- Retained moulding from the use of forceps or suction at birth or development of a flat area (known as plagiocephaly)
- Problems with feeding and digestion such as issues latching, too much trapped wind or spitting up a lot
- Recurrent eye, nose and ear infections
- Irritable or unsettled baby that is hard to find a position to settle or sleep
- Concerns about clicking joints such as hips (known as hip dysplasia) or the positioning of their limbs
For mothers with breastfeeding issues we have specialist lactation teas devised by our herbalist that can safely increase breast milk production and can also provide specialist mother and baby probiotics and nutrients that can assist with baby’s digestion.