A paediatric osteopath’s personal journey – 5 months down the line
So. My baby has been indulging herself in 60-90 minute sleep cycles throughout the night for the past several weeks.
She wakes us for a return of the dummy or a feed – which is super boring and tiring for us, but happy days for her. At nearly 5 months this may have been a sleep regression thing, or just a phase that just needs waiting out. But switching sides of bed with her dad on Friday and Saturday nights so he’s ‘on call’ to soothe her back to sleep meaning I could get a bit more sleep was really helpful.
It started when she had a horrendous cough and mucous blocking her nose and couldn’t breathe comfortably. After a week or so the mucous and coughing had improved greatly (including the unnerving heaving manoeuvre she’d do after a coughing fit). But her sleeping stick was well and truly broken.
At this point, I really, really wanted her to feel better so I brought her to the clinic and treated her myself.
What I could do and why would I bother? This is such a good question. Babies are generally fine, even marvellous. They are made of very, very adaptable flesh and they’re always growing and moving – unlike adults who are static for long periods resulting in stasis and strains, so why would baby osteopathy have any benefits?
There were two things. Some weeks earlier I’d been on a train, and put her into her carrier, but failed to bend my knees when I lifted her up to slide her feet over the top of the carrier. I’d banged her head on the roof of the train. She’d cried a bit with surprise but was otherwise fine and happy. However, I’d recently been looking at her head and wondering if it had jammed something up as she had a bit of a flat head on top. Nothing you’d really notice, just not very ‘expanded’ looking.
And then all the coughing and heaving. Its tiring and uses a lot of musculature. So I gave my baby a bit of an MOT. I used cranial osteopathy to unjam any tissues the head bang may have triggered. In my view this ‘jamming’ could have occurred where the tissues of a relatively immobile structure (like bone) absorb energy (not sufficient to cause a bruise in this case) but enough to cause a stiffness for a while. Much like forceps or in utero compression may appear to jam tissues around the cheek, eye or ear (as well as visible bruising in that case).
I used structural osteopathy techniques to stretch out her ribs and coughing muscles. She had a blast, and so did I.
And I think, as I often have with patients in the past, that her head shape improved fractionally in the following days, which as she has grown, has continue its improved trajectory. Her cough is gone and she’s smiley.
As a paediatric osteopath I find it very hard to say what I think will improve when a baby has a treatment with me, but as a mother, it’s super easy to say that my baby likes treatment (from my colleagues as well as me). It clearly feels good and I think she’s always cheerier afterwards. And when you’re both knackered and a bit crabby, this is all you want. So much the better if your baby’s cough gets better quicker, their head shape improves marginally and you get to put your baby into some lovely experienced hands for an hour or so while you watch and rest!