When we treat Babies and Small Children we are most often trying to access a specific part of their nervous system. The autonomic nervous . This system works like a ‘see-saw’, if one side goes up the other side goes down. The autonomic nervous system has two sides.
One side we hear about quite often, it’s called the Sympathetic or ‘Fight or Flight’ system. When this goes up it causes some very specific physiological changes in the body. It is also referred to as the stress response and will cause the blood to be diverted from the brain and intestines and sent to the muscle instead. This will usually present as a quite active baby, hands and feet going all day and quite happy while the house is busy and there is plenty of stimulants throughout the day. Then when you try to put this baby laying down to sleep in a quite room away from all the stimulants they react by screaming and fighting to get back out.
These babies may also suffer with wind and/or constipation with occasional bouts of explosive bowel movements. This is a consequence of the blood being drawn away from the intestines and sent to the muscles. These symptoms can cause a lot of discomfort and may contribute to reflux and silent reflux symptoms.
Using very specific techniques and directed at two parts of the body the Osteopath can alter these symptoms very successfully be lowering this system by promoting the Parasympathetic or ‘Rest and Digest’ side of the see saw. The nerves responsible for rest or sleep and digestion exit the central nervous system in the cranium and the sacrum, hence the term Cranio-Sacral Osteopathy. Cranial work is very effective for helping a baby relax, sleep, feed and poop better. Osteopaths will use this technique effectively to help the baby regulate its nervous system and ease their discomforts.