The Unconsolable Baby
Several times a week I get calls from distressed parents seeking help for an unsettled, screaming colicky baby . Usually, the baby has been assessed by their general practitioner, paediatrician, health visitors, and no reason is found for the problem.
There is no agreement as to why a healthy child may be miserable and unsettled. What most have observed is that it may be related to feeding. The process of feeding either breast or formula, the contents of the feed if breastfeed, then certain foods eaten by the mother may upset the digestive system of the baby. The digestive system of some premature and full term babies are not mature enough to digest milk, leading to fermentation and gas.
Flatulence is believed to cause discomfort/pain in a baby. A small or premature baby may have a small mouth and has difficulty covering the breast aureola and ends up swallowing air.
The advice is to see that the child latches on well and that the lips cover the aureola.
In a premature or small baby or children with developmental problems, the suckling may be weak and therefore he gets tired after a short time. During the osteopathic examination I often find that the hypoglossal nerves that supply the muscles of the tongue are irritated and therefore latching on is difficult.
An osteopathic examination includes all the structures related to swallowing, suckling and breathing including motion of ribs, clavicles and diaphragm. The contents of the abdomen and position of the umbilicus.
Drainage of fluids from the head, neck, abdomen. Motion and position of every vertebrae.
Cranial restrictions or tension in individual bones or between the bones of the head, particularly where the skull joins the neck.
Open airways need to be open. For example when breastfeeding with a blocked nostril may be fuzzy and needs stop to breath though the mouth. The problem may be on the face, neck or chest.
Another cause of flatulence is lactose overload when the baby has to gulp down the milk. Lactose overload is not the same as lactose intolerance. Lactose overload is when the milk flow is fast. You can observe it if you stop the baby feeding and the breast milk flows like an open tap well not quite but you get the meaning. The lactose intolerance is when the enzyme to breakdown milk is absent or deficient.
For fast flow milk, midwives advice to manually express about 30ml before feeding. The baby will be fine, because the letdown of fatty milk is still in the breast.
Osteopathic treatment for children is carried out by applying gentle techniques over the areas related to the problem.
Then most common conditions to help children are.
1. Possetting or regurgitation
2. Grumpy and tense children
3. Difficult birth
4. Forceps or ventouse used during delivery
5. Unsettled restless babies, with no established sleeping patterns.
6. Teething discomfort
7. Odd head shapes
8. Delayed progress e.g. not crawling or walking at the expected age.
9. Respiratory problems linked to asthma, the chest and neck muscles may be tense.
10.Aches and pains associated with growing.
11. Sports injuries, like young ballet dancing, gymnastics, running etc.
Registered Osteopath Salome Olivia has been treating children for over 21 years. Registered with the General Osteopathic Council. Holds a Post grad in Paediatric Osteopathy from the Osteopathic Centre for Children and has conducted further studies in Asthma and Reflux in children and adults. Member of The International Cranial Association.
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