Can Birth Really Be Traumatic?

Baby taking part in paediatric osteopathy

Your baby’s body is still very soft during labour allowing them to adapt perfectly to the birth channel by moulding (bending and folding over on itself).

In the days following delivery, your baby will naturally begin to ‘unfurl’, aided by increases in pressure brought about by breathing (in air, for the first time!) and crying. However, this process can be disrupted, causing restrictions in muscle and/or other connective tissues which can cause physical asymmetry, causing dysfunction and often discomfort.

A common cause of such a disturbance is a delivery that has been brought on too quickly or which is delayed, and especially if medical intervention has been required.

It is important to remember that every birth is different and there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ births. (However, some births are traumatic for mothers, who can feel a loss of control and understanding of what happened to them, triggering anxiety and depression. The NHS offers a birth debriefing service, which is delivered to you by a senior midwife. You are taken through the clinical decision-making process in your unique birth to help you understand what happened and are given an opportunity to express and share your feelings or concerns. This can be very beneficial if you have been affected by a traumatic birth).

How do you know if your baby has been affected by their birth and may benefit from paediatric osteopathy?

Most textbooks cite the vital clinical skill of observation that underpins maternal instinct. Thus most paediatric students are instructed to listen extremely carefully to a mother’s concerns as you commonly have the greatest insight into your baby and have done a thorough visual inspection many times a day!

Therefore, if you have fed, changed, bathed, soothed, and pulled funny faces at, your baby but s/he still seems uncomfortable or distressed by something, you are probably correct.

Worried you’ve done something wrong?

New or inexperienced parents often worry that they have done something wrong – my observation is that you are usually doing a fantastic job. But your baby may just have a strain somewhere. If you’ve ever experienced pain or restrictions in your body that didn’t go away, you can appreciate why they may be unsettled.

Crying is your baby’s primary form of communication regarding their needs in these early weeks. They will use it whenever they want your attention whether it be for food, a change, a cuddle or to tell you they are in pain.

If you have had a complicated delivery, or laboured more quickly or slowly than expected, or are unsure or worried about what is causing your baby’s irritability, fretting or crying, an osteopathic paediatric consultation can offer great insights and relief.

Our paediatric osteopaths all have postgraduate training and are highly skilled at conducting examinations of babies’ musculoskeletal systems and identifying signs and symptoms of other problems that may cause your baby to cry excessively.

Written by Melissa Andrew


If you’re not sure whether we can help, please give us a call on 020 7735 6813 or email