It’s very often the simple, most obvious things in life that we miss. The things that make us take a deep breath in awe, confusion at how we could have missed it, and finally excitement at discovering a solution to something that has been bothering us.
Try this one for size: Babies have muscles. Just like us.
I know it’s the most obvious thing to say…. But the ramifications of realising this obvious fact are enormous.
Muscles can get tight.
Muscles can go in to spasm.
Muscles can trap nerves and send stabbing pains along the nerve pathway.
Tight neck muscles can cause tension headaches.
A tight diaphragm (very big muscle) can cause reflux.
Tight low back muscles can irritate the nerves supplying the gut and contribute to constipation.
I know right? How wide are your eyes right now? Have you taken a deep breath and rolled your eyes to the ceiling yet?
Yes. Your baby may be experiencing musculoskeletal pain.
As a paediatric Osteopath, I spend my days treating babies who are experiencing this pain. They are the babies who were born able to hold their head up. The babies born screaming and didn’t stop. The babies born vomiting and didn’t stop. The babies that won’t lie flat. The babies that won’t stop moving, even in their sleep. The babies that can only feed with their head in one direction and turn red and scream blue murder if you dare to switch them to the opposite side.
They are the babies that won’t wear a hat, screech if you try to wipe their face, and look at you like you are the Devil incarnate when you try to change their nappy.
Yes. Musculoskeletal pain explains all the weird symptoms that just don’t make sense to you. Your baby is fed, burped, and has a clean nappy. Why are they still unhappy? Maybe, because a headache doesn’t go away just because you have a clean nappy.
Once you realise that your baby may be in musculoskeletal pain, you inevitably start asking “why?”. Well that’s easy. Forceps. Induction. C-Section. Face or side presentation during labour. Engaging very early. Getting stuck in one position in the uterus, perhaps under your ribs. Carrying very low. Intrauterine reasons are anything that causes the baby to be in an awkward position for a long time. Labour reasons are anything that would cause the neck muscles to tighten to protect the neck during labour.
Knowledge is power.
Once your eyes are open to the fact that your baby may be holding residual tension in their muscles for one or many reasons, you have a diagnosis and a route out of the situation: visit a paediatric Osteopath. That is what we do. We stop muscles hurting. And that, in turn, stops babies crying.
The good news is, in my experience, babies release tension extremely quickly. Adults release tension much slower, because the tension has been present for a long time. Babies haven’t been here very long, and the tension is very superficial.