What is Craniosacral Therapy and how does it help my baby?

You may have come across the modality of Craniosacral Therapy (CST) and perhaps have questions, particularly pertaining to infants. So let’s dive in for more clarity.

What is CST?

Cranialsacral Therapy is a very gentle, yet powerful healing modality appropriate for all ages. The techniques were discovered and developed by osteopaths, including John Upledger .

They are practiced by providers with a license to touch (Physical therapists, occupational therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, licensed massage therapists).

A gentle touch (5 grams) is held in very specific parts of the body to manipulate fascial restrictions. The work facilitates the body’s natural ability to heal and ease into a more ideal form. 

The first goal of Craniosacral Therapy is to guide bodies into their parasympathetic state, or “rest and digest” mode. Meaning, they can relax out of their sympathetic state, or “fight or flight”. The body needs to be in a parasympathetic state in order to heal. Relaxation breeds recovery.

Who needs it?

EVERYONE!

When I transitioned from massage into lactation, I started hearing folks in my field saying “the baby needs bodywork, the baby needs bodywork!”

Well, after working with post op-patients, pregnant mamas, and professional athletes, I thought the idea of a baby urgently needing bodywork was just silly.

Wowzers, was I wrong. So wrong. They ALL need it.

Ok, WHY do they need it?

Well, nature’s way of growing and birthing a human is pure genius.  The baby is meant to smush around in utero and during the birth process. However, the longer or more intensely they are smushed, the more problems can arise.

During birth, it is common for the cranial bones to override each other at the cranial sutures. After birth, these overlapping bones should self correct quickly. If they do not, they can interfere with proper cranial nerve function. Cranial nerves are responsible for swallowing, digestion, and sensory-motor movements of the face and tongue. Cranial nerve dysfunction can lead to feeding and latching difficulties, colic, reflux, and more.

Wait- what IS colic you ask? It’s really just an unhappy baby. In the lactation and CST field we like to sleuth our way through the symptoms and help you figure out the root cause of their discomfort. 

Maybe it’s because … of a traumatic birth and the nervous system’s on fire? Breech baby or long labor making for a very compressed cranium- maybe they have a headache? Oral function not organized yet causing aerophagia, gas pains and feeding problems? Did your baby have their hands in front of their face in utero? That will make for quite the recessed chin, which will certainly cause feeding trouble. Is the tongue tied (straining the entire front fascia line) and every meal they attempt to eat is a stress fest?

Being a newborn can be way more stressful than we tend to give babies credit for….so, I listen. The baby will tell me, I will help.

What does a session look like with me?

CST sessions are performed with the baby’s clothes on. I can work on my lap, massage table, the floor, couch, changing table, while they are breast or bottle feeding. I adapt to wherever the baby is happiest. Sessions can last between 45 mins-1hr 15 mins.

I have also trained and include craniosacral fascial therapy (CFT) in my sessions. This incredible modality was developed by Barry Gillespie.

Because of my deep roots in all things bodywork, I include more traditional massage techniques, range of motion, Rhythmic movements and intra- oral work.

I always provide parents with home care to continue to facilitate the unwinding of their baby to a more optimal state. I chat a lot in my sessions to explain to parents what I see, what it is impacting, and what more they can do at home to help.

What happens after the session-

Often there are immediate results. As I hand the baby back to the parent, they say “he is so much heavier!” or “she looks so long!” Cool right?

In CST, the body can continue to process and unwind for the next 24 hrs, and the releases come in all forms….. lots of poos, lots of boogies, a big nap, big appetite, OR a heightened witching hour.

Have you ever had a massage or PT work and later that day you felt kind of woozy, and then the next day felt like a new person? That is the body processing the work and moving into its more ideal state. This is a natural process that babies can have too.

*A special note on tongue ties and oral dysfunction:

Yes, we see a lot of them. Yes, it is because we know more, but yes it is because there ARE more. I really wish we did not see so many, it’s very stressful for parents and babies. The ties cause a great deal of body wide tension.

I am trained in oral rehab for the baby, and include that with the oral work of CST. Therefore, these sessions will have heavy focus in the mouth.

**A note on older children and adults. Yes! I treat all ages, but my babies get priority!

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