Infants, Toddlers and Children Thrive With Craniosacral TherapyAug 04, 2014 08:24PM ● By Hilary Bilkis
Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a very gentle and deeply relaxing form of bodywork that releases stress and injury from the nervous system and then throughout entire body. The gentleness of CST makes it ideal to treat newborns! The amount of pressure applied is about that of the weight of a nickel, whether the treatment is for a baby, child or adult. A newborn CST session can minimize or eliminate the repercussions of difficult births and help ensure good health for well babies. Babies should receive newborn craniosacral evaluations and treatments as soon as possible after birth.
Why does my baby need CST?
When you are pregnant, any stress or anxiety you feel or that exists in your household is also felt by your baby. The Secret Life of an Unborn Child by Thomas Verny, M.D., talks about the consciousness of babies still in the womb. If you experienced a great deal of stress, suffered from prolonged morning sickness, worried a lot, or were on bed rest for a medical issue during your pregnancy, your baby not only felt all of that but may be holding onto those emotions in his or her tiny body.
One mom that I treated through her pregnancy was driving her car when a freak snow squall hit, causing her many anxious moments during the treacherous ride home. Her infant daughter, during her very first session, spent time releasing the memory of mom’s stress around that very situation. After treatment, she was more calm and slept better.
During the birth process, the baby's head molds to fit through the mother's pelvis. It is normal for the cranial bones to overlap each other, making the circumference of the head smaller, to allow for easier passage through the birth canal. After birth, these changes to the skull should correct themselves. If that does not happen, the overlapping can interfere with proper cranial nerve function leading to colic, as well as breathing, swallowing, digestive or sensory-motor impairments and other issues.
Sometimes babies are injured in the birth process. CST can address these injuries as well as the effects of prolonged labor, vacuum extraction, forceps or cesarean birth. Babies born by C-section do not have the benefit of a longer transition from the womb to the outside world and they’re also exposed to a different type of birth stress. They have to deal with rapid changes in pressure when the womb is opened. Their skull rapidly expands and then contracts, often leaving more serious overlapping than occurs in a vaginal birth. CST releases the restrictions in the baby’s head and membranes caused by vacuum and forceps, and it supports healthy brain growth and development for the child, supporting him to live to his fullest potential.
My second delivery was a natural, water birth. Even though my labor was shorter and more comfortable than the first birth, my son still had overlaps of the bones in his skull that felt and looked like strange ridges on the side of his head. These did not resolve on their own. Since I was not trained in pediatric CST at the time, I brought him to my therapist who worked on him while he nursed. His skull bones released and he was much more alert and less fussy.
How will CST help my baby?
This bodywork assists babies in releasing restrictive patterns in the body before they become problems later in life. Infants treated with CST can avoid common newborn problems such as latching or suckling difficulties, tongue thrust, torticollis, reflux, colic and poor sleep. They eat better and poop better. Sessions for infants last from 15 to 40 minutes.
When mom receives treatment during pregnancy, the baby recognizes the therapist’s energy and quickly relaxes even before the treatment begins. To the observer, the therapist may appear to be “doing nothing” during a CST session, as she is just gently contacting various parts of the body with a light touch. However, profound releases are happening internally. It is fascinating to watch. Babies may be squirming and making noises, yet when the release begins to happen, they become very still, respiration deepens, the eyes go into REM, and when they are done processing out the tension, they start squirming and babbling again. Very often mom and baby are on the treatment table together getting a session at the same time. Since mom and baby are so very connected, working on them together can help deepen the bond and get mom more in rhythm with her baby’s needs.
Can it help my toddler and older children?
Absolutely! As your baby goes through developmental milestones such as sitting, standing, walking, and running, they often stumble and fall. CST can help get children back into balance and help get the stress and trauma of the injury out of their system so they are less likely to have delays from the injuries later in life. CST can help with the stress of transition from being home with mom to going to school. It can also help school-age children focus better.
A seven-year-old boy came to me because he was having trouble sitting still and focusing in school. He informed me that he wasn’t sleeping well at night (this was new information for mom), so it was no surprise he was having difficulties—he was exhausted! After treatment, he finally slept well, was able to focus, had an easier time with his schoolwork, and his creativity blossomed!
Help your child live to his/her fullest potential by giving the gift of wellness, balance and good health through CST.
Hilary Bilkis, LMT, is the owner of Awakening Wellness, a light touch bodywork therapy practice in Morristown. Visit Awakening4wellness.com.