By Guest Blogger: Dr. Brent Wells
Becoming a new parent, regardless if it is your first child, a second baby, or any kids that are born after that, it is always an exciting time. You have a brand new part of your family to love for the rest of your life, and there simply isn’t anything that can compare to that. With that being said, newborns can also be a bit overwhelming for some moms and dads, especially if they are dealing with any medical, developmental, or other health issues. Babies that won’t sleep, have trouble eating, or are struggling in any other area of advancement puts a lot of pressure on doting parents who just want to figure out how to help.
With more and more Americans turning to alternative treatment methods instead of using conventional medical techniques, it’s no surprise that babies are being administered craniosacral therapy by qualified therapists for a plethora of reasons in offices and hospitals all over the country. Find out more about what this therapy is, the benefits, and how it can help your little bundle of joy through the early stages of life and beyond using this holistic and non-invasive approach.
What is Craniosacral Therapy?
From 1975 to 1983 a Professor of Biomechanics from Michigan State University named John E. Upledger researched and studied the idea behind craniosacral therapy (CST). The treatment provides patients with a light direction of the craniosacral system using a pressure of no more than 5 grams. The belief is by moving around and releasing restrictions on the central nervous system and the cerebrospinal fluid in that area, the body’s functioning will improve natural on its own.
Professionals that use this form of therapy believe that the human body has the capability of healing itself. When babies are born, their skulls aren’t entirely formed like what you would find in an older child or an adult for at least a year and most often 18 months. The head changes shape in order to fit through the mother’s pelvis during the birthing process. Cranium bones at times will override each other but usually go back into position all by themselves after a short while. However, there are times, especially during difficult births, that these bones may be damaged or they might not go back into place as they should. Without correction, it can lead to a plethora of problems with the digestive system, development of motor skills, and the respiratory system.
Even babies that are born via C-section have been reported to have cranial injuries. It is thought it happens because the process of birth using this type of delivery is so abrupt. Also, the babies skull isn’t going through the natural compression and decompression stages that it usually would.
Therapists will place one hand behind the head of an infant and the other under the sacrum. Some refer to it as the “handles” of the babies head. It is where the spinal membrane and the bone come together. There is no manipulation done on an infant, and the touch is an extremely light one. When done correctly, the baby should instantly start to visibly relax. Providers of the treatment have stated that CST is helpful for both the baby and parents because as the baby begins to calm, so do the moms and dads that come in with them. In some instances, the parents will also undergo CST during the same appointment as their child.
Other areas that get attention and massage include the jaw, mouth, and temples. A therapist generally works on their patient for anywhere from a half hour to an hour, depending on what kinds of problems the baby is having and the extent of treatment required to fix it.
Is Craniosacral Therapy Safe for Babies?
With craniosacral therapy being a newer treatment option available to parents, it leaves many wondering if it is safe. You would never want to do anything that might put your child in danger, and that’s why many parents will stick with the more traditional medical techniques. Experts say that CST should never be used when there are existing treatment methods that work to cure the problems already established. Nevertheless, there has been research completed that proves CST is safe for infants when it is administered by a qualified professional.
Someone that is adequately trained in craniosacral therapy doesn’t have to verbally speak with a patient to find out what the issues are within the body that are causing the disruptions. That’s why it is an option that is often selected by parents for their infants who can’t speak. It is a viable solution to the frustration that goes along with your baby not being able to tell you what’s wrong. The therapist will know what areas need to be worked on just by holding the baby in the proper position. There are never any forced movements. Through their hands, CST experts can feel the rhythms in the craniosacral region and work to shift the energy with light touches and no tools or instruments are required.
What Does Craniosacral Therapy Treat?
Going beyond the initial relaxation that babies feel as soon as a therapist starts the process, craniosacral therapy has been used successfully to treat a vast number of medical and developmental issues in infants. Generally speaking, many parents seek out the treatment for babies that have gone through a traumatic birth experience or those that have head trauma or other injuries early on in life.
Beyond that, there a multitude of other issues that have shown improvement after being treated with CST including:
- Acid reflux
- Breastfeeding trouble
- Cerebral palsy
- Developmental delays – walking, talking, etc.
- Emergency C-section deliveries
- Gastrointestinal discomforts
- Injury from the use of the forceps or vacuum extraction during birth
- Sleeping problems
- Unnatural head shaping
Babies can be treated with CST at as early as a few days old. Ideally, those that go through traumatic birth experiences should be seen within the first two weeks in order to get the most out of their CST sessions. In most cases, at least three sessions of CST are needed to correct concerns. Some children have shown a difference after just one treatment while others require more before anything is noticeable. Each patient is unique and should be thoroughly evaluated by a qualified CST expert before creating any sort of treatment plan.
What Are the Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy?
Birth is a stressful experience for babies even when things go as they should. When there are issues that arise during the process, it makes it even harder on the infant. Many professionals and parents utilize CST to help in reducing that stress factor so that the children can be more comfortable. Babies will have an easier time eating, sleeping, and enjoying wake periods if they are entirely comfortable physically and emotionally. Both of those things can be achieved through CST.
Tension and stress can be relieved in a natural way with craniosacral therapy. It’s something that isn’t always appropriately or effectively treated through more traditional medical techniques. For those that are concerned about giving their children prescription medications or undergoing surgery for any illness, injury, or accident, this is the least invasive method of treatment available for all kinds of medical conditions.
A qualified CST practitioner knows what to look for in your baby and can stay focused on treating those areas in a caring manner. Your baby will feel more secure, loved, and comfortable, which will allow them to relax and develop in a healthy way.
Another benefit is the fact that CST can be safely used in conjunction with other treatment options. When your child is suffering from any of the conditions mentioned, you can work with a medical doctor, chiropractor, or other CST specialist in a healthcare team to find the best course of action to achieve relief, healing, or progression.
Are There Side Effects or Dangers Associated with Craniosacral Therapy?
Just like with most new treatments, there is no conclusive evidence that states that there are side effects or dangers that are associated with CST. Experts state that there is more research needed to prove whether or not some claims about CST causing further damage to infants with brain damage is necessary. Other skeptics say that children should not be given a treatment of this type until they are at least two years old as their bodies are still too sensitive and developing.
Adult patients that have been given CST have described a feeling of mild discomfort after a session. However, it generally is only temporary and is no longer present after 24 hours. There are some conditions that it is recommended that patients don’t get CST due to the risks of further complications. Anyone that would have an instability due to the increase in pressure should not go through craniosacral therapy. Additionally, preexisting bleeding disorders, acute aneurysms, and cerebral hemorrhage can be negatively impacted by CST and patients that have been diagnosed with any of them should seek an alternative treatment option.
Finding a Qualified Craniosacral Therapy Practitioner Near You
If you are watching your baby suffer through any of the conditions that are treated through CST, you may want to consider the possibility of getting them in to see a CST practitioner. This is a practice that requires additional training and certification in order to ensure that the treatment is done correctly. Most often this type of therapy is done by a chiropractor, massage therapist, or osteopath. Before scheduling an appointment with any of these professionals, inquire about their training and knowledge on CST. Not all of them have the appropriate education to complete the therapy, and you want to be confident you find one that does to prevent further injury or discomforts to your child.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor’s of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998. He became passionate about being an Anchorage Alaska Chiropractor and he strives to provide each of his patients with compassionate care for an overall better health and well-being.
Craniosacral Therapy for Infants. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2018, from Birth Injury Guide: https://pixabay.com/en/baby-birth-healthy-baby-child-1531059/
Discover CranioSacral Therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2018, from Upledger Institute International: https://www.upledger.com/therapies/index.php
Raith, W., Marschik, P. B., Sommer, C., Maurer-Fellbaum, U., Amhofer, C., Avian, A., et al. (2016, January 13). General Movements in preterm infants undergoing craniosacral therapy: a randomised controlled pilot-trial. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4710971/
The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2018, from National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/2007/camsurvey_fs1.htm