Post birth, both mother and baby may benefit from Osteopathy in the Cranial Field. Particularly if the birthing process has been long or difficult. Even a fast birth can have its problems. Infants are subjected to compressive and tensile forces which prime the body to be able to function. However, sometimes these forces can be strong, yet at times necessary to save the mother and baby’s life in an emergency. Particularly if the baby has been stuck for a while in the birth canal. Reflux is a common presentation in infants. This may relate to the troubles experienced by mothers and babies while feeding. This issue can be quite distressing for the parents. However, through careful and expert examination and palpation, the root cause of any imbalance in the tissues can be assessed.
There is a difference between “physiological” Gastro-esophageal reflux (GER) and severe pathological gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD).1
Cranial Osteopathy helps to identify and treat any restrictions related to childbirth, feeding, and reflux. Therefore, if your child is experiencing any level of discomfort, consulting with a qualifiedosteopath may be a viable option. Osteopaths are primary healthcare providers and trained to refer when necessary. Osteopathic treatment may assist breastfeeding alongside working with a lactation consultant.23
Infant (baby) reflux is a disorder where the infant brings up milk or cries after feeding. Silent reflux can occur without the baby bringing up milk. The baby with reflux is normally unsettled during and after a feed normally cries after feeding and at times during the night. This situation is uncomfortable for both the baby and parents. If left unattended, the reflux may lead to inflammation of the upper airways.
Reflux is a problem, which can appear in both breastfed and formula-fed babies. The major symptom of this disease is the rejection of a small amount of milk by the stomach.
Signs/Symptoms of Baby Reflux
Some of the typical symptoms include:
- Hiccups & cough
- Posseting (passively spitting up)
- Irritable – cries during and after feeding
- Needs to sit upright to settle after feeding
- Unsettled sleep – frequently waking
- Noisy breathing
- Arching back, pulling up legs, stiffening body while trying to feed.
- Weight loss or inadequate weight gain
- Bad breath, gagging or choking at the end of feeding
Causes of Baby Reflux
There are various areas where an irritation can be set up to cause reflux. Some of these areas include the Thoracic diaphragm (breathing muscle) that the esophagus (your baby’s food tube) needs to travel through. When this is out of balance, the sphincter (opening) that closes to stop the reflux occurring does not work properly. Milk comes back up along with acid that can burn the delicate lining of the digestive system. Rib and thoracic (upper back) tension can also create a “circuit” of irritation, as the stomach shares the nerve supply and one can upset the other. The Vagus nerve that supplies the stomach can also become irritated as it passes out of the base of the skull if the baby has suffered compressive forces such as being stuck in the birth canal.
Osteopathy aims to restore balance in any or all these areas and break the cycle of reflux and pain.
Other issues can be from food intolerances (dairy is common) as well as detoxification issues.
Problems with latching and feeding may have many reasons. Tongue tie surgery is extremely common these days. It is important to look at where any cranial strains or issues in the palate may be interfering with a complex movement of the tongue and the ability for the baby to breath, suck and swallow all at once. This requires a lot of co-ordination (think of rubbing your tummy and patting your head while walking on a narrow beam!). Osteopathy aims to assist with the co-ordination and integration of these movements by relieving strain in the body.
Paediatric Osteopathy Treatment for Baby Reflux
Osteopathic treatment utilizes gentle techniques to address any imbalance or discomfort in your child. These techniques may involve movement of the joints through articulation, gentle stretching, and massage. The treatment helps to relax the ligaments and muscles. The treatment is responsive rather than assertive which means each baby is treated according to how their body responds. This requires a learned listening from trained hands.
At Bribie Osteopathy,our osteopath utilizes a wide range of treatment plans referred to as biodynamic/ craniosacral or cranial osteopathy (Osteopathy in the Cranial Field). Since the baby’s body undergoes stress and tension during birth, this may lead to various imbalances That may manifest as discomfort, irritability, and inability to settle.
An Osteopathmay consider using a combination of approaches to address feeding issues and sleep disorders of infants. Our osteopathic treatment may also involve breastfeeding guidelines and gentle exercise for the mother to help her baby. Osteopaths who work with babies and pregnant women often work in with midwives, birth doulas, lactation consultants and pediatricians as well as your GP.
A difficult, awfully long or very short delivery can create tension on an infant’s spine and ribs. This may disturb the proper functioning of the digestive system. It is not uncommon for a baby suffering from reflux disorder to stiffen and arch their back in pain. An osteopathcan reduce the tension within muscles and joints which may help relieve pain and discomfort.
Paediatric Treatment after Birth
Osteopathy offers a variety of treatments for newborns and young children. It is not uncommon to treat a newborn during the first week of their birth. The first six weeks of life is a golden opportunity to balance any strains from birth. It is also possible to address these strains at later stages as well. Osteopaths follow a soft and gentle approach while dealing with the immature body of an infant. Moreover, each baby receives a tailored treatment depending on his/her body needs.
While offeringosteopathy treatment to infants and children, our osteopaths utilize Cranial techniques. These are the non-manipulative techniques, which are very gentle.
At Bribie Osteopathy, we are experienced at treating babies and children of all ages. Our trained osteopath carefully treats infants and babies and treated in Sydney for many years before setting up Bribie Osteopathy in March 2019.
1. Rybak A. Gastro-Esophageal Reflux in Children. 2017;1–17.
2. Roy JH, Xhignesse M, Gaboury I. Efficacy of an Osteopathic Treatment Coupled With Lactation Consultations for Infants ’ Biomechanical Sucking Difficulties : A Randomized Controlled Trial. 2017;
3. Fraval M. A pilot study: Osteopathic treatment of infants with a sucking dysfunction. Am Acad Osteopat J 1998;8:25–33. http://ostemed-dr.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/myfirst/id/10310.
4. Smartt J. Research Studies on the Use of Osteopathy in the Treatment of Infants and Children. 2016;