FOR most parents a new baby in the family is a joyful time, but for the one in five couples whose baby suffers from colic, it can be a nightmare.
Colic is the name given to attacks of muscular spasm in a baby's developing digestive system. In serious cases these attacks can last all night and at worst all day too.
There are many theories as to why babies get colic. Often it is because the baby is swallowing too much air and being over-full. Good feeding technique is important and symptoms can be avoided by regular winding, good posture during feeding etc. Breast feeding reduces the chance of colic but sometimes a mother's fondness of spicy food can be a factor. However if changing diet and feeding technique makes no difference then what else can be done?
Improbable as it sounds, an osteopath can often help with this type of problem. Osteopaths treat all sorts of muscle spasms and colic is, after all, a type of muscle spasm. Osteopathic treatments have developed for many infantile conditions such as colic, constipation, disturbed sleep and torticollis. In many cases it can be shown that these problems relate to difficult births. In the final three months of pregnancy osteopathic treatment can loosen up the lower back and pelvis to prepare the muscles for birth.
A normal birth is tricky enough for any mother and baby but when there are complications the physical strains can be enormous. Procedures such as ventouse delivery or caesarean section where the baby is pulled out headfirst can result in the baby having strain in the neck. This can cause torticollis or may lead to digestive problems as the nerves from the neck to the stomach become irritated.
Treating the neck of a baby is different from treating an adult in that we never use manipulation. Instead babies are treated very gently and safely using cranio-sacral therapy. This is a type of gentle stretching to release tension in the membranes of the neck and abdomen that may have become traumatised during birth. These techniques are part of the training of British trained Osteopaths.