Your infant crying immediately alerts you that there is something wrong in his or her world.
Is your newborn hungry? Tired? Needing a nappy change? Too Cold? Too hot? In pain?
Many first time parents find this guessing game a challenge but gradually as a routine establishes they learn to recognise what their infant’s cry means and how to satisfy its needs.But what if you have done everything (including checking with doctor or health nurse) and your infant is still crying? Are there other reasons which cause your infant’s distress?
These distressed infants are the ones I see in my clinic on a daily basis. While craniosacral therapy is of benefit to all babies it is especially helpful to a crying, upset and distressed baby. In my experience the following are The top three reasons for the distress that leads to your infant crying:
Infants may have one, or a combination, of the above problems to cause their crying. Let’s look at each one in turn and explore them further. You may recognise aspects of the problems that relate to your infant and why he/she is crying.
1. The Birth Process.
If there has been intervention during the birth (induction, caesarean section, vacuum or forceps) or a long and heavy labour – this, in some cases, may have an ill effect on the infant’s head and back. The bones of the skull and spine, the nerves and membranes are moved out of their correct position and so cause the infant discomfort.
While these interventions were necessary for the infant’s safe delivery the excess force can override the baby’s natural ability to allow these bones to slip back into their correct position. If this is a problem for your infant you may notice that your infant tends to turn only in one direction, doesn’t like to lie flat, wants to be held in an upright position or that there are obvious bumps, cone shape or depressions on the head. Some mums notice bruising or marks at side of the head.
I treat many children with the above problems - and in my experience, when these restrictions are released with the subtle touch of craniosacral therapy - the baby is happier, sleeps and feeds better and so doesn’t need to cry!
2. Feeding and digesting.
As your infant learns to suck, swallow and breathe - their feeding pattern becomes established. Problems arise when there is a difficulty with any one of these steps. You may notice that your infant is not latching on correctly and is just using the lips to suck. This may cause sore nipples for mum and is not helping with milk flow. Check that you see the whole cheek is moving when sucking and, if breastfeeding, that the nipple is covered and no air is getting in. If you hear gulping - and then choking - this indicates difficulty in the suck, swallow, breathe process.
In a craniosacral treatment I would check that the bones in the mouth are free moving and this then corrects the suck. This is done with a gloved finger in the mouth and works on the bones of palate as the baby is sucking. Mums I see would have checked the correct techniques for breastfeeding and, often, it is this final correction done by the craniosacral therapist that completes the process and allows the baby to feed easily.
Digesting is helped by working with the vagus nerve which is accessed by the craniosacral therapist at the back of the neck, the lungs, diaphragm and stomach. Working around these areas with a gentle touch provides great relief for the baby - and often stops those long sessions of colicky evening crying!
If your doctor diagnoses acid reflux, then keeping baby upright and gentle burping often helps. Some infants are unable to break down the components of milk and may need to be guided by their doctor or public health nurse to correct this problem. As a craniosacral therapist I treat many babies with this distressing condition.
3. Problems with Sleeping.
Infants need lots of sleep. Look out for the signs of a sleepy infant (rubbing eyes) and always finish feeding, burping and nappy change before settling baby to sleep. Swaddling your infant provides security and helps him/her fall to sleep but check that they are not too hot. Some infants like to stay close to mum for the first few weeks but it pays to establish a good routine of putting baby into the crib to sleep when you both feel ready.
Some infants that I see in my clinic cry and often have difficulty getting to sleep despite mum and dad doing all of the above. Many of these children would have had a difficult birth and go on to develop problems with both feeding and sleeping before I first see them.
When I treat these children I check for any areas of tightness in their body. As these release the baby sighs and relaxes. If the birth has been distressing, we take time to check the effect this has had on the infant, mum (and dad too) if needed. This helps with the bonding process which in turn helps baby to feel more secure and mum to feel more competent. It is common for baby to sleep for a long time after a craniosacral treatment. Many parents report that they have had their first night sleep following this craniosacral treatment.
So, in summary.
While it is ideal to get your infant’s crying problems sorted out as possible after their birth, it is also possible to address these difficulties at any stage throughout your child’s development. I have found, through working with many upset babies – that craniosacral therapy is a very gentle and effective way of getting baby more comfortable – and providing mum and dad with a practical way of dealing with the distress that leads to crying.