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Cranio-Sacral Therapy Cured Our Baby's Reflux: A Case Study

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 4 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Reflux Therapy Head Sleeping Osteopath

Ben Watton is now a cute, happy, normal one-year-old. But not long after his birth, his parents had been worried that his slightly misshapen head was causing him problems, including sleeping difficulties, overall tension and reflux, when liquid backs up from the stomach into the oesophagus.

“I had pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure, so Ben was induced a day early. The labour was okay but then they discovered he was getting a bit stuck,” says mum Sarah, 31, a PA and administrator from Brackley, Northamptonshire.

“At the time I didn't notice but he had quite a misshapen head. When we had a chat with the paediatrician a few days later it was noticed more, it was squashed on one side from where he had settled in one position in the womb and didn't form properly.”

Feeding Problems

Ben's development appeared fine, but he was quite tense and had some problems breast-feeding. He found it hard to latch on and suffered from reflux on the times that he did manage to feed.

“He had reflux occasionally, he would cry and the milk would come out of his mouth,” says Sarah. “Being new parents at the time we didn't know what was wrong with him. His birth-weight dropped but he seemed healthy in every other way. It wasn't too scary, we kind of took it in our stride.”

But when a midwife suggested that Ben see a cranial osteopath, Sarah and husband Edward, a 34-year-old production engineer, readily agreed. Cranio-sacral therapy, also called cranio-osteopathy, is an alternative medicine that is practiced by osteopaths, naturopaths, physical therapists and others.

The practitioner places his or her hands on the patient and manipulates the spine, skull and its cranial sutures to ease restricted passages of nerves and put bones back in their proper place. Often babies benefit who are thought to have undergone a birth trauma.

Series of Appointments

Sarah rang the osteopath, Hector Wells, a week after they took Ben home from hospital, and made an appointment. “We had an initial discussion and he looked at Ben's head, then we made some proper appointments over a series of weeks,” she recalls.

“Hector would gently manipulate Ben's head, and after the first few times we could see an improvement in the shape of his head. He also did a bit of work on Ben's body as well, as due to colic he was scrunched up all the time and his tummy ached, which caused reflux.

“We struggled to breastfeed Ben and he had jaundice, so he didn't breastfeed well until a few days after he was born. We struggled while we were in hospital to feed him as he had reflux with both breast milk and regular milk. When we started on the bottle that was a bit of a change for him, and that caused reflux as well.

“He also favoured sucking his bottom lip, it would go in when he tried to feed, so that was a bit of a struggle. In the hospital we gave him breast milk in a syringe to get him fed. It became quite difficult breastfeeding, with the reflux as well, but after a while it got better.”

After several more cranio-sacral therapy sessions the Wattons' could see that Ben's head was slowly becoming more formed, the same as the other side of the head, less flat and more rounded.

“We were worried that as a boy with short hair it would be noticeable, but he's fine now. His head is a normal shape and looks normal,” Sarah says.

Sleeping Difficulties

As Ben was also struggling to sleep, the Wattons asked Hector for help with that as well. “First we asked the midwife to look at his room and she moved the bed around. Then the osteopath manipulated his body and arms to help him relax," says Sarah.

“When we tried to change his nappy his legs were always up, he was mimicking his position in the womb for security. When we went to see Hector he was like that lying on the bed. But by the time Hector had finished he was lying flat on the bed.

“I would recommend cranio-sacral therapy to others, as not only has it helped the shape of his head but has made his reflux disappear, helped him to sleep better and made him become more relaxed.

“He has no problems now, his development is fine and he's a happy little boy. It's helped Ben in every way.”

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