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Cranial Osteopathy

QUESTION… My 3-month-old baby girl had a difficult birth where she became stuck and had to be delivered using forceps. Her head was quite bruised afterwards. She is now difficult to settle and cries a lot. She is unable to fall into a deep sleep; instead she catnaps but the slightest noise wakes her up. She is a good feeder and loves to suck on her dummy. Would cranial osteopathy be able to help her? My health visitor recommended I give it a try.
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Thank you for this question. It’s a really great one as it covers a number of common issues that I see in clinic on a daily basis, and mums really aren’t told that there is help out there for them and their wonderful new baby.

Right upfront my answer is a BIG YES.
Your baby’s birth sounds rather traumatic and your description indicates to me that your baby would have had quite a lot of compression through her head, more so than from a more straightforward birth. Getting stuck would mean she probably had a number of strong contractions around her head and the forceps would have compounded this too.

Let me stress at this point that a baby’s head is very capable of handling these stresses, although the result may be an irritable baby who cries and finds it difficult to sleep. The good news is that there are therapies that can help. It is important to note that everything that takes place in the delivery room can significantly impact the health of you and your baby. My mission is to spread the word that help is at hand afterwards.

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Cranial osteopaths believe that the force of compression caused by labour contractions or instrument deliveries can leave tensions in the baby’s soft skull. These tensions then translate into the baby’s nervous system putting them “on edge”. I would say this is rather obvious with your little girl as she had the bruises as evidence.

Parents often ask if their baby is in pain and I don’t think this is often the case. I like to compare it to an adult drinking too many cups of coffee. Their nervous system will be jittery and “wired” and set at an oversensitive level. You are describing this scenario as your baby wakes at the slightest sound.

What cranial osteopathy can help with, in an extremely gentle way, is removing these physical tensions from the baby, mainly from their head, although it could also be the lower back, spine, ribcage, diaphragm, central nervous system and meningeal sheaths. As these stresses and tensions are released, the baby will calm down in a lovely way, as the nervous system also will settle back into a healthy and balanced state. This means the baby can fall into a deeper sleep and won’t wake at the slightest sound. Basically, your baby will be able to “sleep like a baby”.

Let me address the dummy issue too, as this is really interesting. Forceps babies love to suck as it is a mechanism that they use to self-release their head tensions and make themselves feel better. Does this sound strange to you? Let me give you an example to illustrate how this works. Have you ever experienced blocked and painful ears during an aeroplane landing? Can you remember what you did to clear your ears? You sucked on something! In fact, often the stewards hand around sweets to suck on to help passengers clear their ears. This is basically what your baby is doing – sucking a lot to release the tension.

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It’s also significant if you find your baby always wanting to snack for food. If you are breastfeeding you might become sore and feel as if they are living off you, and the baby can overfeed, be sick and get colicky and windy. The actual problem is the baby just wanted to suck and wasn’t really hungry.
After cranial osteopathic treatment, you will often find that your baby will not need to suck so much, and it may be possible then to wean her off the dummy. In this way, the dummy can be used as a tool and removed before the habit sticks.

Christian Bates has been an osteopath and naturopath for 18 years. He specialises in treatments that help babies and
their parents get more sleep. He has written widely on the subject and there are blogs, videos and a book dedicated
to helping babies available at:

He also offers free ebooks for download.
Christian can be contacted at:

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