It is a common belief that babies and children should have no structural stresses or strains in their bodies, because they are ʻso youngʼ. the reality is very different. Birth is one of the most stressful events of our lives. The baby is subjected to enormous forces, as the uterus pushes to expel the baby against the natural resistance of the birth canal. The baby has to turn and twist as it squeezes through the bony pelvis, on it short but highly stimulating and potentially stressful journey. The babyʼs head has the remarkable ability to absorb these stresses in a normal delivery. In order to reduce the size of the head, the soft bones overlap, bend and warp as the baby descends. The babyʼs chin is normally well tucked down towards its chest to reduce the presenting diameter of the head. Many babies are born with odd shaped heads as a result.

In the first few days, the head can usually be seen to gradually lose the extreme moulded shape, as the baby suckles, cries and yawns. However, this unmoulding process is often incomplete, especially if the birth has been difficult. As a result, the baby may have to live with some very uncomfortable stresses within its head and body.

Babies born by caesarian also have things that may need to be treated. Sometimes there was a non progressive labour which ended in an emergency c-section, the baby may therefore have unresolved compression in their system. Maybe the c-section was elective due to a breach position or other. The baby can retain in utero moulding as their body has not been stretched out from a vaginal delivery. The moulding can affect pelvis, limbs as well as the head.

What effect does retained moulding have? Some babies cope extremely well with even quite severe retained moulding and compression, and are contented and happy. For others it is a different story, and they can display a variety of problems. Crying, irritable baby Crying, fractious, irritable baby, needs to be rocked to sleep. Prefers being carried. Reason The baby may be uncomfortable, with a constant feeling of pressure in the head. This is made worse by the extra pressure on the head when lying down.

Feeding difficulties The baby takes a long time to feed and one feed merges into the next. He/she may be a ʻwindyʼ feeder. Reason Feeding is difficult and tiring due to mechanical stressed through the head, face and throat. The nerves to the tongue may be irritated as they exit from the skull, which makes sucking difficult. Sickness, colic and wind Regurgitation of milk between feeds, bouts of prolonged crying due to colic and wind. Often worse in the evening. Reason The nerve to the stomach is irritated as it exists from the base of the skull, which impairs digestion. The diaphragm may be stressed or distorted, which further compromises both digestion and the ability of the stomach to retain its contents.

Sleep disturbances The baby sleeps for only short periods, and may sleep little in the day (or night!) Wakes to the slightest noise. Reason The tension on the bony and membranous casing of the skull keeps the babyʼs nervous system in a persistently alert state. As the child grows Retained moulding can affect symmetry and tension in the childs body. Sometimes babies develop a very flat head as they are only turning their head one way, sometimes they are slow to crawl as their neck and or pelvis are tight. These types of strains are ideally to resolved in the first year.

There is an old osteopathic saying “ as the twig is bent so the tree will incline” (WG Sutherland). Osteopathic treatment Osteopathic treatment using the cranial approach is very gentle, safe and effective in the treatment of babies and children. Specific gentle pressure is applied where necessary to enable the inherent healing ability of the body to effect the release of stresses Could there be any adverse reactions?

Reactions to treatment are variable, often the baby or child is very relaxed afterwards and sleeps well. Others have a burst of energy after treatment, usually followed by a good nights sleep. Occasionally children are unsettled after treatment. This is a temporary situation, and is usually caused when the release of the retained moulding has been incomplete. It is not always possible for all the retained moulding compression to release in one session, especially if it has been severe. If you are concerned by any reaction to the treatment, please donʼt hesitate to contact the clinic at any time.

How many treatments will be needed? On average, 2 to 6 treatments are sufficient. This varies according to the severity of the problem and the age of the child. When to treat The younger the better, it is never too early to treat. Ideally all newborns would have an osteopathic checkup . For best results, the baby would be treated in their first year as birth strains will be more easily resolved. Treatment should be before the age of 5 years, after this, the stresses any asymmetries cannot always be completely eliminated, but it is still possible to achieve beneficial release of the stresses throughout life.

Text from patient information produced by Elizabeth and Clive Hayden

Post vaccination treatment As I have treated so many babies over the years I have developed a post vaccination treatment based on what I have observed. Babies immune and nervous systems do have a reaction to the vaccinations, some babies more than others. The reaction can be reduced if the breastfeeding mother takes 2000mg of non acidic vitamin C (Ester C) for two weeks before and a week after the vaccinations. The vitamin C supports the babies immune system and an Osteopathic treatment can help settle the system and reduce irritability after the vaccinations. I try and see the baby 4-5 hrs after the vaccination as the reaction has just started so I can calm it down straight away. Many parents have found this to be very helpful and I can time the treatment ahead of time to coincide with follow up treatment or check ups. I am passionate about helping babies have the best start in life.