Osteopathy For Mothers and Babies

Pregnancy and the birthing experience can affect both a mother and a baby’s musculoskeletal system in a range of different ways. Depending on the type of birth (natural or caesarean) both can have an impact on the body’s structure and the way it functions.

When having osteopathic treatment during pregnancy, your practitioner will focus on improving your mobility in preparation for birth and reducing any compensatory pain you may experience in areas such as your mid-back, lower-back, neck, legs and pelvis due to the changes in your body and the increasing elasticity of your muscles, tendons, ligaments and tissues.

Osteopathic treatment may also assist with musculoskeletal dysfunction you may experience after the birthing process. After the birth, you may start to notice postural changes as your body starts to adapt back to its pre-pregnancy structure. You may also notice the function of feeding and carrying your baby will now place different stresses on your body, which may result in issues in the upper back and neck due to these repetitive movements.

For a baby, being in utero and the birthing process may also place stresses on their musculoskeletal system due to being in varying positions for periods of time. Different positions during presentation such as anterior (face-down) and posterior (face-up) can each have an impact and could place different strains (extension or flexion) on the neck, shoulders, hips and pelvis as the baby is coming out of the birthing canal.

Your baby may benefit from seeing an Osteopath if you notice they are experiencing some discomfort in their musculoskeletal system which may include the following:

  • Restricted range of motion or tightness
  • Crying or unsettledness when dressing your baby on a certain side or area
  • A preference for feeding on one side, suckling or latching difficulties, which may be due to neck strains or discomfort
  • Lying asymmetrically (lying in a curved position)
  • Misshapen head such as flat spots (the following stresses such as the use of forceps, ventouse or emergency caesarean, prolonged labour or prolonged positions in utero may impact the shape of a baby’s head)

Osteopathy for Toddlers

As a newborn develops into a toddler, the stresses placed on the body become gravitational as they start to crawl, pull themselves up and commence walking.

You may start to notice other things such as turned in feet (which may be hip or ankle dysfunction), tripping over, and general clumsiness, bum shuffling or asymmetrical crawling patterns. Osteopaths treat people across their lifespan, so as your newborn grows into the toddler phase they will be looking at their progressions with musculoskeletal development and function.

  1. What Can I Expect At The First Consultation For My Baby?
    • Generally the first visit will take a full hour, schedule the appointment when the baby or child is usually happy, awake and alert (and ideally not during a feed). This will give the child the best chance at a happy, comfortable treatment
    • A full postnatal medical history will be asked including:
      • History of the presenting complaint
      • A detailed pregnancy and birth history
      • Feeding, behavioural and digestive system information
      • Sometimes general health information of the biological parents
      • Examination- general inspection including (general appearance – skin, alertness, coordination, behaviour, posture, limb positioning)
    • Based on these examination findings further testing may be carried out for further diagnosis or referral to another healthcare professional may be made
    • Most of the tests will be repetitive to what your MCH Nurse or paediatrician has conducted and will be familiar to you – commonly minor conditions are picked up and are resolved with treatment
  2. What Osteopathic Treatment Techniques Are Used?
    • Osteopaths are government registered, primary healthcare professionals, they use very gentle treatment techniques for babies which may include soft tissue massage, light joint stretching and mobilisation and passive range of motion techniques. Your baby will be treated while being held or lying on the table
    • Some babies may show initial discomfort in the examination process, as it is foreign to them. Then most babies become comfortable, many falling asleep during the treatment
  3. What To Bring To The Appointment
    • The child’s green book – to help recall information during the history taking
    • Favourite toys
    • Food as distractions for other children or toddlers
    • Osteopathy is covered by all major private health funds, so if your child is covered for Osteopathy, the rebate can be claimed immediately after your consultation through our Hicaps facility