Cranial osteopathy – how it can help you and your child

Problems in pregnancy? A crying baby? Or an unhappy tot? Cranial osteopathy could be the answer to relieving your stress

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What is it and how does it work?

Cranial Osteopathy is a therapy that’s been around for years. Like regular osteopathy, it uses manipulation techniques such as massage to treat stress and tension in the body. The difference is that cranial osteopathy uses the head as well as the rest of the body.

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Gloucester-based osteopath and author of Osteopathy For Children, Liz Hayden explains, “The skull is made up from a number of separate bones that are designed to move slightly like a complex 3D jigsaw. If any part of this movement is restricted, it can cause tension and imbalance in other areas of the body. Osteopaths can feel and gently release areas of strain, compression or distortion in the head and body that have been caused by traumatic events like birth.”

If you’re looking for an alternative therapy to try, it could be just the thing.

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How can it help in pregnancy?

From backache to heartburn, there are plenty of niggles in pregnancy. As not being able to take certain drugs makes treatment tricky, cranial osteopathy is fast becoming the perfect solution for mums to be, says Liz.

“It encourages the body to adapt properly to accommodate the baby. And it can help nausea and vomiting by using treatment to improve the circulation to and from the liver,” she explains.

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How can it help your baby?

Doctors say they’re close to finding out what causes colic. But until then, it can be a problem for up to 30% of babies – and really stressful for their mums. Cranial osteopathy can be really effective at easing the symptoms, says Liz.

“Working on the base of the skull and the diaphragm area can relax the baby, which reduces the reactivity of the whole nervous system. This often reduces the colicky symptoms of discomfort and crying.”

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How can it help your toddler?

“If there have been issues from birth that aren’t treated then problems can continue and be problematic when your baby grows older and into the toddler stage,” says Liz. Sleeping problems, tummy aches and sinus infections can all be helped by cranial osteopathy.

You may have a toddler who doesn’t sleep well, does not eat well and complains of tummy aches. “Osteopathy can work on the lymphatic system,” says Liz.

“If the diaphragm is held in a tense state, this can delay the passage of lymph through the chest and in turn this reduces the ability to fight infection.

“Osteopaths will pay attention to the chest and in the head area too and boost the immune system so infections are not picked up so easily.”

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How to get treatment

“It’s important to find a fully qualified osteopath who specialises in cranial techniques,” says Lisa Barnwell from the Me and My Baby therapy rooms and clinic in Chelsea, which has its own trained cranial osteopath. “Some people claim to specialise in cranial osteopathy but don’t have the training.”

To find a qualified osteopath, including practitioners specialising in the treatment of children, contact the General Osteopathic Council, 020 7357 6655.

For information on reduced-cost osteopathy contact the Foundation for Paediatric Osteopathy, 020 7490 5510.

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Osteopathy for Children by Elizabeth C Hayden is available for £6.29.

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