osteopathy for babies and children
At Hersham Osteopathy, we have a specialist interest in the treatment of babies and small children, along with osteopathy during and after pregnancy. Many parents bring their babies and children for osteopathy for numerous reasons, sometimes because the baby is especially irritable and hard to settle, when winding is difficult or just for a check up after a long delivery or a very rapid birth. Many parents hear about osteopathy from midwives, health visitors or National Childbirth Trust (NCT) meetings.
During pregnancy and birth, babies are normally subjected to quite a bit of mechanical stress, as they are propelled along the birth canal with lots of twists and turns along the way. The mother’s uterine contractions and the natural resistance of the birth canal facilitate the baby’s progress during labour. Babies normally react positively to the mechanical stress of the birth process – the bones of the neonate skull are soft and overlap each other (“moulding”) to enable birth. The odd-shaped head that often results from the birth process usually lessens from the normal process of suckling, crying and yawning. Some babies cope well with these stresses, however, sometimes this “unmoulding” process is incomplete. This often results in some retained, uncomfortable stresses and strains – which can display as a variety of problems.
Some common problems we are asked to evaluate in babies and small children include:
- gastrointestinal (digestive) dysfunctions (excess wind)
- sleep disturbances and unsettled crying
- plagiocephaly (flattening of the head)
- a delay in developmental milestones
- gait disturbances
- bed wetting
- recurrent ear, nose and throat infections and respiratory infections
We also treat children as they begin their school years. Factors such as unresolved birth trauma, poor posture, heavy school bags and non-supportive school shoes can contribute to musculo-skeletal complaints such as:
- reading or learning difficulty
- behavioural problems such as reduced attention span or poor listening skills
- headaches and neck sprains
- hip and back pain
- growing pains and playground accidents
Paediatric cranial osteopaths have a highly developed sense of touch (palpation). We use this, combined with a detailed birth case history together with a neurological and structural examination to determine the extent and location of any areas of restriction (strain patterns) in the baby or child’s body. We then use very gentle manual techniques to encourage the patient’s body to resolve these strain patterns in order to relieve discomfort. The treatment is very gentle, non-invasive and designed to enable the body’s optimal functioning.