FEEDING PROBLEMS IN BABIES
Since feeding is something that takes up much of a baby and his parent’s time, it is important to understand the implications of birth trauma on a newborn. There is a lot of information and advice available on the pros and cons of bottle feeding versus breast feeding. However what happens when your baby is just simply a “poor feeder”?
Whether the decision is breast or bottle, there are baby’s that are “good feeders” and “poor feeders” and those that go between the two. The “good feeder” seems to take feed quickly and efficiently with three to four hours gap between feeds. On the other hand the slow feeder may take so long to feed that they go almost straight into the next feed. Apart from the obvious fatigue of the parent, the baby can be slow to put on weight and be unsettled for much of the time. There may also be patterns and habits with the baby that become apparent, such as copious amounts of wind during feeding, interrupting the feeds, or finding it hard to latch on. They may also seem happier to feed on one side than the other. All of these could be signs of retained birth strains.
If there has been a strain on the neck muscles and upper part of spine during the labour or delivery, it may cause discomfort when the baby turns his head in that direction. If the shoulder blade or collar bone has been traumatised during the birth process, then it may affect the muscles attaching to the tongue through the attachments of the muscles. Irritation of the nerves that control sucking action and affect the digestive tract can lead to colic and poor feeding. If the baby has had forceps delivery, and has sustained facial trauma as a result, then it can affect the nerve that supplies the muscles around the mouth, and mean that the baby cannot form an efficient seal around the nipple or teat to feed.
How can these problems be helped by Osteopathy? Well, studies suggest that osteopathic treatment improves the effectiveness of sucking in infants with poor sucking function (Fraval 1998). Cranial Osteopaths use a highly trained sense of touch, to recognise strains in the body via disturbances in the rhythmic wave-like movements that occur in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This is akin to the rhythm of the heart or breath. Through gentle handhold on the baby’s body and head the Osteopath will reflect back to the tissues the patterns they are holding, to enable the body to do its work and release tensions. In this way, the treatment is gentle but effective.
Anyone who uses the title Osteopath has to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council, who ensure that standards of care are professional competent and safe.