PAEDIATRIC OSTEOPATHIC EXAMINATION & TREATMENT
During the first consultation, the osteopath will take a full and careful case history about your newborn or child and will also ask questions about the mother’s pregnancy and delivery as this can give useful information about the current problem your little one is experiencing. This process will guide the osteopath to assess specific areas that contribute to the current problem.
The osteopathic treatment is often so gentle that it may appear that the osteopath is doing nothing more than placing their hands on the child. In reality a great variety of very complex treatment approaches and techniques are being used. The reason for this very light touch is that the bones are mostly not ossified yet and have the ability to allow a normal expansion following the mechanical torsions, compressions to which the foetus has been submitted in the womb and/or the delivery process.
In the case of a C-section, whether it is planned/elective or emergency, it can be traumatic for other reasons.
It can cause stress due to the sudden change from being protected & safe in the mother’s belly to the external environment. The stress associated with the emergency for both parents & baby can also have physiological effects on the newborn. Some stress can resolve by itself with time, but sometimes an osteopathic session is useful to support parents & baby after a traumatic experience to release the tensions associated with the stressful event.
It can lead to other problems. The baby is supposed to be submitted to specific stages during the labour. The natural delivery leaves an imprint on the newborn’s body which is supposed to help his mechanical development, when the baby does not get stuck during one of the stage. From the cranio-sacral point of view, when there is no complication, the baby is submitted to normal compression via the mother’s muscles action. This compression on the cranial bones is transmitted to the liquids inside the baby’s skull (CSF= Cerebro Spinal Fluid). The pressure inside the skull becomes equivalent to the atmospheric pressure that the baby will inhale. This atmospheric and intracranial pressure equality are preventing cranial bones torsion.
In C-Section deliveries, this process does not happen, therefore the intra cranial pressure stays inferior to the atmospheric pressure and the cranial bones stay “glued” together, and to develop they will have to do so by torsions. These torsions within the cranial bones are formed very easily as the newborns’s bones are very flexible, not ossified, and are either made of membranes or cartilage. As a consequence, the newborn lives in a state of constant cranial bone and body strain or mechanical compression.
Osteopathy can be helpful to assess & release some body asymmetries or areas of restricted mobility within the body before they affect the way your baby is crawling or sitting or walking.
A treatment in Osteopathy will usually include some time of observation & palpation where the osteopath will assess stresses & strains held within the child’s body. The osteopath will then use osteopathic techniques where necessary to enable the inherent ability of the body to release those stresses & strains.
Osteopaths with training & experience in Paediatric Osteopathy are able to assess and use osteopathic techniques to treat the child “on the move” and the child position during an osteopathic session is very flexible so don’t worry if your little one struggles to stay still, it is part of the osteopath training to deal with this situation, and part of the time allocated for the consultation has been determined by taking this into consideration.
PREPARING YOUR CHILD OR BABY FOR THE OSTEOPATHIC CONSULTATION
Please tell your child/baby beforehand who they are seeing and why, and that the osteopath will touch with their hands some part of their body so they know what to expect.
Some babies or children are reluctant to be touched but this is rare and if they are showing any sign of discomfort we will stop the session.
It is legally required to have one of the 2 parents, or the legal guardian present during the consultation so please book your session knowing you will have to be in room for the whole time of the consultation.
Please bring some favorite books or one toy your little one has interest in, this will be very helpful to avoid your child getting bored.
Please also bring with you what is necessary in case you need to change a nappy or feed your little one.
RESPONSE TO OSTEOPATHIC TREATMENT
Usually children are calm & happy after an osteopathic session unless they are tired, hungry or in need to have their nappy changed. Symptoms usually gradually settle over a few days unless the release of the mechanical compression has been incomplete or any other underlying health problem is maintaining the discomfort. In this case, the osteopath will assess other factors that could contribute to their discomfort or pain.
When the the cranial strains or compression are severe, it is not always possible to release them all in one session. The average number of treatments is 3 to 6 but this varies according to the the severity of the problem, the history of the birth, and the mother’s pregnancy history.
WHEN TO BOOK AN ASSESSMENT WITH THE OSTEOPATH
The best time to treat babies is within a few days of their birth. This is when the un-moulding process is naturally at its most active. The effects of birth stresses & strains are best treated as young as possible. The longer they stay with your baby, the longer it takes for the body to release them.
However, there is much that can be helped with under the age of 5, and cranial osteopathy is also used for adults with unresolved birth trauma.
As osteopaths, we often need to treat the effects of retained birth compression in our adults patients, so it is never too late.
The osteopathic treatment for babies after birth is of paramount importance in practicing preventative medicine & can help both mother & baby to recover from one of the most demanding experiences in their lives.
This summary has been based on the following books:
“Osteopathy For Children” by Elizabeth C. Hayden D.O
“La Guerison A Portee De La Main” by Pierre Hammond D.O
“The number of babies that have a gross, visible disturbance in the skull— may be somewhere about 10%. What about the other 80% of babies born who have a problem but it is not visibly seen? Viola M. Frymann, DO”