Birth is a normal part of the cycle of life. However, birth is certainly capable of becoming our first trauma. Even an uncomplicated natural delivery can leave some residual strain in a baby’s body. In the event of a prolonged labour, a fast labour, 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 newborn check-up is well worth considering if your baby is showing signs of discomfort, is particularly unsettled or not feeding well.
Difficult birth and unsettled babies
In babies and children, bones are still pliable and many systems of the body such as the gastrointestinal system are immature. This can lead to babies suffering with trapped gas and wind and it is suggested that the gut can be influenced by cranial osteopathy.
Sometimes a baby may suffer trauma during birth, for example, getting stuck in the birth canal, a rapid birth or even an extremely long birth. When this is the case, the baby can absorb the stresses of the labour and hold tension in their body. Cranial osteopathy is thought to be able to release this tension.
Occasionally instruments need to be used such as forceps and ventouse and this can create a strain across the baby’s neck and skull. This can exhibit as colicky symptoms of excessive crying, poor sleep, etc. In these cases cranial osteopathy can be used to limit the effects of the birth, giving relief to the baby.
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. Pediatric Osteopathy aims to enhance the function of these structures so as to improve a mother and baby’s ability to breastfeed successfully.
Feeding & Tongue Tie
A well child check-up will include a thorough history taking, and screening for indicators of healthy growth and development, including age-appropriate attainment of milestones. Research tells us that brain growth is most rapid in the first twelve months of life. Therefore, supporting a baby to establish good patterns of movement, strength, posture and balance will help to establish a solid foundation for optimal growth and development. Key milestones, such as rolling, crawling and walking, and during growth spurts are ideal times for a well child check-up.
A check-up for older children can be of benefit as well. Growing bodies can have immense stress placed on them, due to falls, poor postural habits or sporting activities. Emotional stress can also manifest in the musculoskeletal system. Therefore, it may be important to check children a few times a year or as the need arises.
It is not uncommon for babies to show a preference to lie with their head to one particular side. 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.
Pediatric Osteopathy treats the musculoskeletal components of the head, face and neck to subtly release the structures that are contributing to plagiocephaly. We regularly measure a baby’s head growth to monitor changes in shape over time. In more severe cases, a plagiocephaly helmet may be indicated if osteopathic treatment alone is not enough. We will refer for this if indicated.
Flat Head & Torticollis
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. 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. Pediatric Osteopathy looks at the many body parts that are involved in tummy time, rolling and crawling and treats any restrictions that may be inhibiting these motor skills from developing.
Tummy Time, Rolling & Crawling
At Osteobobo Pediatric Osteopathy Clinic, we believe it is important to check a child who is just learning to walk. Some children experience in-toeing, knocked knees, frequent tripping and/or balance issues. When these issues are present it is important to rule out underlying physical imbalances within the pelvis, leg and foot that may be contributing to the presenting complaint.
If a child develops a limp, there are a number of conditions that an osteopath will need to rule out. Some of these conditions are minor and self-limiting; some are serious, requiring full orthopaedic review and possible surgery. A persistent limp should always be investigated.
Walking, Limping & Balancing
Children of all ages, from newborn babies through to adolescents, can suffer from sleep challenges. This can manifest as trouble falling asleep, waking multiple times and even night terrors. If the history and clinical examination indicated the presence of an upper airway obstruction (e.g. enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids) causing sleep apnea and or snoring we would refer to the relevant specialist.
Sometimes if there is underlying musculoskeletal tension from physical trauma, this can make it more difficult for children to relax in order to fall asleep or stay asleep. Osteopathic treatment may assist in improving your baby’s or child’s sleep if there is underlying physical tension.
Headaches are a frequent symptom for some children. While missing meals, food sensitivities, dehydration or tiredness may be some common headache triggers, musculoskeletal reasons for childhood headaches are also important to consider. Tension headaches can be caused from muscle contractions in the head and neck region. This muscle tension may be due to stress, tiredness and poor posture, presenting as a dull pain, tightness or pressure around the back of the head, neck and into the forehead.
Migraines are a severe form of headache often associated with visual disturbance, nausea and vomiting. At Osteobobo, we examine and treat any musculoskeletal structures that are contributing to the headaches. If the headaches are associated with fever, significant drowsiness or other symptoms, it may be a sign of a serious illness and we would refer to a doctor.
Migraines & Headaches
Cranial strain patterns, and the more horizontally directed eustachian tubes in small children can leave them more susceptible to ear infections. Parents hoping to avoid antibiotics, unless deemed medically necessary, seek Paediatric Osteopathy for recurrent ear infection treatment. Mobilizing the temporal bone re-establishes efficient drainage of the ear and improves function of the auditory canal.
Poor habits like tongue thrusting can deprive the roof of the mouth of normal tongue stimulation, and can result in developmental issues of the maxillae, to which the upper teeth attach. Bite and jaw issues can manifest as the child grows. Cranial osteopathic techniques can mobilize and realign the jaw, and if orthodontia is necessary later, osteopathy can expedite matters and help the cranium accommodate the changes.
Recurrent Ear Infection & Orthodontics
We Treat Your Baby
Meet our registered manual osteopath
BSc, MC, DOMP, RMO
Mehdy Mahjoub is a dedicated Practitioner who trained at the National Academy of Osteopathy and National University of Medical Sciences. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Osteopathy degree. Mehdy is registered with the College of Registered Manual Osteopaths among other renowned Associations.
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