Birth is a wonderful part of the cycle of life and can sometimes be a beautiful and stress-free event. However, labour can also be very demanding and stressful on both the mother and the baby.
Strain or ‘Moulding’ to your child during pregnancy
At birth, much of a baby’s skeleton is more like cartilage, especially the plate-like bones that make up the skull. These bones are quite soft and malleable, and are designed to overlap and glide over each other, enabling them to sustain the forces of labour and allow the head to pass through the birth canal.
However, this pliability may mean that they are susceptible to strain and ‘moulding’, which is often evident after birth in babies that have asymmetrical, flattened, or markedly pointed head shapes. This may have occurred after a difficult labour due to:
- the position and/or size of the baby
- the position of the mother’s pelvis
- the labour may be unusually long or short, or
- if intervention has been used like forceps delivery or ventouse extraction.
- trauma from a Caesar delivery if the baby is stuck in the mother’s pelvis.
A degree of moulding is normal, and usually resolves within the first few days after birth along with the normal processes of adapting to breathing in air, crying and sucking. However, in some cases the moulding can be retained and will need attention. Left untreated, the bony plates may remain overlapped, pulled apart, or under excessive strain. This is turn can cause tension or pinching in the delicate membranes that cover the brain and nervous system.
Overstrain of tissues and compression of joints in the head, neck and upper back may also occur as a result. This may affect the nerves which come from the base of the skull and help in body functions such as feeding, digestion and breathing, and may cause other imbalances in the rest of the body.
The result of a difficult birth can present as:
Osteopaths with post-graduate training in paediatrics are trained to detect any musculoskeletal strains or patterns in the body that may be affecting the baby. They are trained to have a highly developed sense of touch that will allow them to assess their tiny body and their movements. They use gentle approaches to treatment to release any musculoskeletal strains or restrictions they find. This in turn may help the baby to feel better with less tension in their body – after all, we are all more relaxed when we are as tension free as possible!
Some of the conditions that occur in babies may persist or become apparent in the young child, especially if there were restrictions that were not treated as a baby.
Osteopaths who treat children may be able to help with the musculoskeletal components that may be contributing to :
Injuries in Children
Children may require an osteopathic assessment if they have a fall, especially if they hit their head, or land on their spine or bottom. Children have an amazing ability to ‘bounce back’, however some trauma can be retained in the tissues and joints of the body that may not be immediately apparent, but which can go on to cause problems later on in life as they grow into that strain pattern. Your osteopath will be able to find any restrictions in the musculoskeletal system that may be present, and then through treatment, they may prevent further problems from occurring.
Children’s Sporting Injuries
Sporting injuries are also common in children, as are other adolescent conditions such as Osgood Schlatter’s and Scheuermann’s disease. Osteopathy can be of great benefit in such conditions as well as with recurrent problems such as ankle sprains by addressing the musculoskeletal issues that may be contributing to the problem.
Your child’s posture
Keeping an eye on your child’s posture is very important. Influences such as carrying heavy school bags and increased use of computers can cause postural problems that may become more difficult to address as your child gets older. Signs to look out for, which indicate an early problem with posture include
- asymmetry in the shoulders (one higher or more forward than the other)
- excessive slouching
- curvature of the spine or turning in or out of the feet. (Check your child’s shoes – do they wear out quickly on one side more than the other? This can also point towards postural imbalance).