Baby whisperer is a term often given to someone who can bring immediate calm into a home where there is a distressed baby. It’s an instant ability to soothe an apparently inconsolable child. Most babies are very content and will have very regular sleeping and feeding patterns. However, some babies can be fractious and unsettled for long periods of time. While most parents can cope with a certain amount of distress, it is the on-going nature of the distress that brings them to see me. They come looking for answers and a solution. They want to be listened to, and know that their concerns about their baby are acknowledged. This is my starting point.
I have been treating babies and children for the past 12 years as a Cranial Osteopath and during this time I have observed how babies can also use non-verbal communication to inform us of what’s going on. When a baby is very distressed and crying for long periods, the parents may only focus on the crying. They may not see the arching of the back, the constant head movements, the need to be carried all the time, the clenched fists or the continuous movement when baby is lying flat. It is signs like these that I look for when assessing a baby. Very often, making the correct diagnosis depends on asking the right questions.
Many babies who present in a distressed state may have had difficult, prolonged or complicated deliveries. As a result of strains that may have occurred in their tissues, they have difficulties forming good sleeping and feeding patterns. Let’s give you an example. One of the most common reasons for babies under 6 months old attending for Cranial Osteopathy is Reflux. Reflux is the term used to describe what happens when the contents of the stomach come back up into the throat or the mouth. The stomach contents are acidic and irritate the lining of the oesophagus in the same way as heartburn affects adults. Depending on the severity of the Reflux, these babies may be irritable for periods of the day or throughout the day and night. Baby’s sleep can also be affected adding to the problem. The obvious signs here are crying and spitting up. Most parents may not notice the arching of the back, the sudden burst of painful crying, the frequent hiccups or the need to be carried constantly. But these other signs are also central to the diagnosis of Reflux.
When giving the parents a diagnosis we are giving them re-assurance. Part of my job is also to support and guide parents through the conflicting advice on how to care for their new babies in those first months and to give them the encouragement to believe in themselves as parents. I give them a plan to help them cope. I may ask them to monitor the feeds or perhaps observe their baby’s signs and symptoms. Cranial treatment is very effective for these babies. Most babies respond quickly and within a week have improved to some degree. Occasionally I will seek the assistance of another Professional. The GP may need to prescribe an antacid or the Pharmacist may offer advice on Over the Counter medication.
Babies by their very nature are calm, contented people. They bring great happiness and joy to their parents, knowing this from personal experience having 4 children myself. When a baby is distressed there is always a reason. My job as a Cranial Osteopath is to soothe the unsettled baby so that they and their parents enjoy each and every day…….
Frank Kelleher, Cranial Osteopath at Elmwood Lodge, Frankfield, Douglas, Cork. Tel; 021 4364750 and www.theosteopath.ie