It's tough making the transition from the womb to the world! Newborn babies can face dozens of challenges like tongue tie, poor latch for sucking, colic, gas, constipation, torticollis, gastric reflux, fussy baby, flathead, hyper/hypotonia, teething, ear infections and more.
Many of these issues could actually be repercussions of birth interventions such as vacuum extraction, forceps, or caesarean section. And many of them can actually be helped gently and naturally with a hands on technique called craniosacral therapy.
Not only can craniosacral therapy help a baby find more ease, but it also helps the new parents as they find their way in their new roles as mother and father. Bonding and attachment increase when the new baby can find more comfort in its new life.
Craniosacral therapy is a noninvasive, hands-on modality proved to be so effective that it is taught worldwide and practiced by a variety of professionals. It’s an offshoot of cranial osteopathy, developed by an American doctor, William Sutherland, D.O., in the 1920’s.
The job of a craniosacral practitioner is to aid in the flow of cerebral spinal fluid. A person’s cerebral spinal fluid fluctuates, like a tide, from the cranium of the head down the spinal column and back up, but also throughout the entire body. It is a dynamic system and the movement of the fluid is connected to the health of every individual.
If the cerebral spinal fluid of an individual is not flowing with ease, it can cause some of the issues listed above. You might think of as gridlock versus smooth flowing highway driving.
For babies, undue stress or strain from fetal positioning, the birth, or other events can cause restrictions in the flow. When these restrictions are released, there is ease in the nervous system and multiple other aspects of physical functioning. Movement in the body and throughout the whole organic system of the human body functions in harmony when the cerebral spinal fluid is moving with ease.
During an appointment, the craniosacral practitioner will ask about conception, pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum period. Then he or she will use his or her hands to “listen,” or palpate, the patient’s tissues and membranes to determine if the cerebral spinal fluid is experiencing restrictions. There is a specific flow to it that can be palpated by skilled practitioners. There is not stretching or rotation -- the movement is from deep within, at the cerebral spinal level. It’s more like tracking and deep shifts, but at subtle, yet profound levels.
A typical session for a baby may last approximately 60-90 minutes. The number of treatments for a specific issue may vary depending on the depth of the restriction. Results from treatments can take 1-3 days, as this technique is a holistic whole body treatment that works slowly, gently and deeply. The bones, cartilage, tissues, fluids, membranes, and fascia, and brain, all respond releasing constrictions. Babies are fully clothed for their sessions and are often treated in the parent’s arms or lying on the back. Craniosacral therapy treatments use a very light touch.
Appointments can take place in the practitioner’s office, and in some cases, home visits are an option. Typical costs range from $125 - $160 per treatment.
Craniosacral can be used right from birth. If you notice your baby is in discomfort or has one of the issues listed above, you may want to seek help. While some medical doctors are are aware of craniosacral therapy, osteopathic doctors must learn it to a certain degree in their medical school trainings. It might be like asking your pediatrician about Reiki or acupuncture -- some are aware of it while others view these modalities as foreign languages! To help you find a skilled craniosacral therapist, we’ve listed some resources below.
In New York City:
Amy Baker, LMT,BCST at amybaker.org 917.509.6115, firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Berkman, OT, BCST, LMT 917.774.3077, email@example.com
Or to find a practitioner in other areas here:
Photography by Kristy May for Well Rounded NY.