Labor and Delivery – Helping the Baby

Labor and delivery are hard on the baby, too!

Labor, and delivery, often is a most exhausting, drawn out, and painful process for the woman.  We don’t really know how the baby experiences this same process.  We pay attention only to signs of stress that signal imminent danger to the baby.

The baby has no way to communicate how it is doing during labor and delivery.  We do know that babies often spend a considerable amount of time in the birth canal in various positions.

Depending on the position, pressures come to bear on the mom’s sacrum, coccyx, or pubic symphysis, often causing tremendous discomfort or pain in the process.  Fracture of the coccyx (tailbone) is a relatively common occurrence.

The baby’s head must bear a tremendous amount of pressure during labor and delivery.

These same pressures are caused, and absorbed, by the baby’s head as it comes to rest on these bony structures.

Fortunately for the baby, the bones of its head (cranial bones), and the sutures between them, are relatively soft and pliable, with plenty of space between them at various places, called the fontanelles (soft spots).  These features permit movement of the cranial bones relative to each other, even allowing them to overlap one another along the suture lines.

If the baby finds an optimal position within the birth canal of the mom, the labor process is not drawn out for too long, and the delivery proceeds smoothly, the baby is well equipped to recover from these temporary anatomical changes to its head.  The cranial bones will slowly “glide” back into place and the fontanelles will close over time.  The sometimes quite distorted head takes on a harmonious shape.

Too much pressure on the head affects the baby’s recovery from the birthing process.

If the baby is stressed too much during labor and delivery, its ability to recover optimally may be compromised.  The head bones will glide back into position but may be slightly misaligned, exerting stresses not only on the head but also on the facial bones, the spinal cord, and the rest of the body via the connective tissue that holds it all together.  Moreover, displaced head bones transmit this pressure to the brain itself.

We observe in the baby restlessness, difficulty sleeping, inconsolable crying, digestive upset, or colics, as well as failure to thrive and/or difficulty meeting its milestones on the emotional, mental, or physical plane.

How can craniosacral therapy help the baby during labor and delivery?

Tense muscles in the mom’s body, whether skeletal or smooth (as in the uterus), impede the birthing process by firing incoherently. In other words, the muscles are out of sync with each other like a team of unruly children.

This incoherent firing of uterine muscle cells may affect the baby’s trajectory through the cervix and into the birth canal.  Tension in the skeletal muscles may exert uneven stress on the mom’s skeletal system, including the pelvis and birth canal, affecting the position the baby finds itself in, potentially for a very long time.

Craniosacral therapy helps to release the tension held in the mom’s musculoskeletal system and her uterus, as well as the birth canal. The reduction in tension helps the baby to find a better birthing position and meet the world outside its mother’s womb with less stress.

The labor and delivery time is often shortened and the labor and delivery process less painful for the mom as well.  A baby less stressed will be better equipped to recover from its strenuous journey and face the many joys and challenges that lie ahead.