Cranial Osteopathy
It is generally believed that babies and young children should have no structural stresses or strains in their bodies. However, what we fail to remember is that birth is one of the most stressful events of our lives.

During the birth process the head is forced downwards into the pelvis while being twisted at the same time. It is then squeezed through the birth canal followed by the rest of the body which is being twisted like a corkscrew. The whole event can be quite protracted and at times the baby can find itself caught up in what must be extremely uncomfortable positions for quite long periods. The levels of circulating stress hormones in the baby's blood are as high during birth as at any other time during life.

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To accommodate this compression the sutures, or joins, in his skull are still flexible, and can slide over each other. As a result many babies are born with odd shaped heads. In the first few days, the head can usually be seen to gradually lose the extreme moulded shape, as the baby suckles, cries and yawns. However, this unmoulding process is often incomplete, especially if the birth has been difficult or prolonged. As a result, the baby may have to live with some very uncomfortable stresses within its head and body. Nerves within the skull can be irritated, and the baby can become fractious as a result. The cranial osteopath aims to reduce tension in the sutures, making the baby more comfortable and therefore more settled.

Cranial Osteopathy is gentle, safe and extremely effective for babies and children with the problems associated with retained moulding. Very specific, skilled, light pressure is applied where necessary, to assist the natural ability of the body to release stresses and tensions.

Reactions to treatment can vary. Often the baby or child is very relaxed afterwards and sleeps well. Others have a burst of energy after treatment, usually followed by a good nights sleep. Occasionally a baby may be irritable for up to 24 hours, but will then settle.

Some babies cope extremely well with even quite severe retained moulding and compression, and are contented and happy. For others it is a different story, and they can display a variety of problems.

Cranial osteopathy may help with:
Crying and irritability.
The baby may seem uncomfortable, particularly when extra pressure is put on the head when lying down.

Feeding problems.
The baby takes a long time to feed and one feed seems to merges into the next. He/she may be "windy".
The nerves to the tongue and face muscles may be irritated as they exit from the skull, which makes sucking difficult.

Sickness, colic and wind.
The baby often regurgitates milk between feeds and has bouts of prolonged crying due to colic and wind. This can often be worse in the evening. The vagus nerve to the stomach may be irritated as it exits from the base of the skull and this can impair digestion. The diaphragm between the chest and the abdomen may be stressed or distorted, which further compromises both digestion and the ability of the stomach to retain its contents. Stress from a difficult or fast birth can leave the digestive system in tension trapping wind. Any strain through the umbilical cord, for instance if it was around the baby's neck, can add to strains in the abdomen.

Sleeping problems.
The baby sleeps for only short periods and wakes to the slightest noise. The tension on the bony and membranous casing of the skull keeps the baby's nervous system in a persistently alert state.

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As children grow the effects of retained moulding may influence other problems such as:
Recurring Infections.
Retained moulding and birth stresses may deplete the immune system. This leaves children more vulnerable to all types of infection. Recurrent ear infection may lead to 'glue ear' and some temporary loss of hearing. Retained birth compression around the bones of the ear prevents fluid draining from the ear with partial or complete blocking of the Eustachian tube. As a result infections may never fully clear and one infection can be followed be another.

Sinus and dental problems.
Impaired growth and drainage of the sinuses and bones of the face due to retained moulding can cause persistent mouth breathing and a constantly blocked or runny nose. This can also increase the chance of dental overcrowding in adolescence.

Behavioural problems.
Children displaying poor concentration, constant fidgeting, difficulty sitting still and hyperactivity may all have retained moulding. Retained moulding compression makes them uncomfortable in one position for too long and this becomes habit forming. Severe compression can also modify normal patterns of learning in the brain. Conditions such as Down's Syndrome may involve restrictions within the head and body which can be helped with cranial osteopathic treatment.

Asthma
A child who is vulnerable to chest infections or aggravation of all degrees of asthma from mild to severe may again be caused be retained moulding. General lowered immunity leads to more chest infections. After infections, the chest remains tense and the ribs do not return to full function, aggravating an asthmatic tendency. Osteopathic treatment to release birth stresses and help to improve chest function is often beneficial in reducing the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.

The above information is based on clinical observation during my 14 years as a Cranial Osteopath.
Frank Kelleher R.N.M.H.,D.O.

For further information please contact
Frank Kelleher Cranial Osteopath
Elmwood Lodge, Frankfield, Douglas, Cork.
Tel: 021 4364750 or frankkelleherosteopath@gmail.com