HAVING a baby is a joyful, but demanding time for all members of a new family; periods of stress are natural and common.
Parents may experience anxieties, whilst babies are introduced into a brand-new atmosphere, with plenty of loud sounds and sights to take in. Though it may not be entirely possible to eliminate all of these stresses from everyday life, as osteopaths, we aim to help support families through this big transition. We all know how we feel when we are under pressure – we may feel a sense of fear or being ‘on-edge’, or we may feel tense .On top of this, it can affect our sleeping patterns. This state of neurological arousal can be felt by both parents and baby and also transferred from one to the other, the same as happiness is transferred. A common cause of ‘stress’ in a newborn is the presence of colic – a condition that is well known for causing distress to parents. The term ‘colic’ is often used to describe episodes of crying by an otherwise healthy newborn (two weeks to four months), which lasts longer than three hours a day, for more than three days a week over a period of more than three weeks. Episodes of crying may be accompanied by symptoms such as unsettled behaviour, sleep disturbances and trouble with winding/feeding – these symptoms can be normal for a newborn however, in excess, these symptoms are stressful for both baby and their parents. Osteopathy and cranial osteopathy can be utilised by new parents in order to help establish potential causes of their babies’ distress. Often, during an osteopathic assessment of the newborn, areas of tension within the muscles or joints can be found that can contribute to these ‘colicky’ symptoms – just as areas of tension in the shoulder muscles of adults may manifest itself as a headache. A gentle osteopathic treatment can be helpful in relieving any tension created during labour and birth and can help to improve both the mother and he babies’ general wellbeing. We have found that this naturally has a direct impact on the stress levels of the baby and therefore the parents and enables them to feel calmer – just as we may use massage as a form of stress-release. As well as this, trained osteopaths are able to help parents understand and learn ways to help cope with these symptoms at home.