Craniosacral therapy (CST) taps into our original blueprint for health that began manifesting at conception and is with us all our life. It is especially effective in helping with the common difficulties of the newborn.
In a normal vaginal birth, which believe it or not for some women is an ecstatic experience, the infants’ body undergoes spiraling compressive forces that ignite the first breath and begin the process of incarnation into the living breathing human form. The infant requires the presence of a grounded calm person to receive them and to assist in their orientation. When the infant is securely and lovingly received, makes skin to skin contact and is welcomed to the mother’s breast in a timely manner, the unfolding of the compressive forces will begin immediately. If the mother follows her instincts to stroke the baby’s head as it breastfeeds, even bones that have overlapped will, within the next few days, begin to rebalance. If the infant is born into an environment of fear and tension the baby’s nervous system may be imprinted with fear and tension. In the first few months of life the part of the nervous system that is primarily engaged is the amygdala an almond shaped organ cradled in the hypothalamus whose function is to monitor safety.
It is important for the mother-to-be to feel confident and supported by her birthing team. Relaxing and opening in love and wonder creates the ideal milieu for the unfolding birth. Of course there are times when intervention is necessary and welcome. As I hear the birth stories of the mothers I see in my office it seems that the “medicalisation” of birth has sadly placed a blanket of fear over this instinctual, natural process. Approaching the event feeling fearful and tense may prolong labour, which may in turn result in escalating pain all too often followed by an epidural and the use of forceps, suction or an emergency c-section. The consequences for the infant are far reaching and only recently have become clearer to the therapists and psychologists who work with the subsequent traumatic affect.
Imagine how a forceps delivery might compress and rotate the bones of the head. When the sutures are jammed there may be little or no movement possibly resulting in some areas of the brain receiving inadequate oxygenation.
Imagine how a suction delivery might cause harm to an infant. The powerful action of the suction pump may cause hematomas, doming of the diaphragms and displacement of the esophagus and stomach making feeding painfully difficult. Caesarean babies also have to deal with the extreme change in pressure with the abrupt rupturing of the womb. Aside from the shock and fear for their own safety they also fear for the safety of their mother. They frequently experience misalignment of the vomer, a small bone in the roof of the mouth making breastfeeding uncomfortable and sometimes seemingly impossible.
In a fascinating study conducted in the early 1970’s, Dr. Viola Frymann, an American osteopath noted that ten percent of the twelve hundred infants she examined had severe visible trauma to the head from in utero and birth trauma. She also found that membranous restrictions, easily palpated by an experienced cranial therapist, were detected in another seventy-eight percent.
Frymann found that common problems of infancy, such as:
- difficulty sucking
- nervous tension
- iirregular respiration
were frequently overcome as soon as the strains are corrected. The study also noted that, when the restrictions remained untreated, there was a much higher than average incidence of learning and behavioral problems. In another study involving one hundred students with learning and behavioral difficulties, seventy-nine who had been born after a long or difficult labour had one, or more, of the common problems of infancy.
Sometimes even a normal birth may result in strains of the bones that form the skull. Hyperextension of the baby’s head as it emerges from birth canal can cause compression of the cranial base and the opening through which the jugular vein and the vagus nerve exit the cranium, just behind the bottom of the ear.
The vagus nerve is responsible for regulation of the digestive system. Restriction here can cause difficulty in sucking, irritability and colic. Restrictions and strains may also be the cause of : food allergies and constipation hyperactivity disorder and learning challenges ear infections failure to thrive and developmental delays.
If the these restrictions and strains do not spontaneously correct and are exacerbated by further physical and emotional trauma they may progress to common problems of adulthood:
- migraine headaches,
- neck and back pain,
- chronic fatigue,
- chronic jaw pain,
- post-traumatic stress disorders
and so on. Often all that is needed to help a body activate a healing process is a gentle touch by a practitioner skilled in tapping into our original blueprint for health. Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal if they are given an environment of complete trust and safety. Early treatment promotes over all better health, increased resistance to disease and the alleviation of many troublesome medical conditions.