A common complaint we hear from parents is that their new baby is suffering with colic or not sucking well at the breast or bottle. While conventional medicine doesn’t offer much to help us resolve these kinds of problems, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine does. As a Family Medicine physician with specialized training in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), I have treated hundreds of babies in the first days of life and can attest to OMT’s effectiveness in treating colic, poor feeding, and constipation.

Think about what newborns (and moms!) experience during the pregnancy and delivery: Especially in those last few months of the pregnancy, as babies grow larger and stronger, they have less and less room to move within their mother’s body. During the delivery, whether vaginally or by Cesarean section, both mother and child typically experience intense physical and emotional stresses.

Even during a ‘normal’ delivery, the musculature and connective tissue in a newborn’s neck or head can become restricted, and the resulting physical tension can undermine a baby’s ability to swallow and digest its food comfortably. Using Cranial Osteopathy, subtle structural problems within a child’s muscles, ligaments, and other connective tissue can be detected. And by applying the gentlest measure of pressure to the affected areas, we can release physical constrictions and help restore your newborn’s full range of motion and proper digestive functioning.

If your baby is not exhibiting any signs of illness or stress, he or she can still receive a supportive boost from OMT. Early treatments can release physical restrictions that without proper intervention might slow your child’s physical, intellectual, or emotional development.

OMT also can help address the physical and emotional stresses that children naturally experience as they develop. For example, toddlers commonly fall while learning to walk, and these tumbles can strain a child’s sacrum, low back, or head. In addition, during periods of accelerated growth, many children experience “growing pains,” or deep aches in their arms or legs. OMT can reduce the structural imbalances and pain caused by illness, injury, and growth spurts.

Moms too can benefit from OMT during pregnancy and in the days and weeks following delivery. By alleviating many of the typical muscular and myofascial stresses of pregnancy, OMT can facilitate an easier delivery. Continued treatment after delivery, while the hormones involved in the pregnancy are still present and the ligaments are still loose, encourages more rapid healing of the muscle and connective tissue, and can even lead to the correction of prior structural imbalances that may have existed in the mother’s body. OMT can reduce back pain and epidural site discomfort, and it can also address difficulties associated with breastfeeding.

Recently, a mom who had just delivered reported to me that she had milk production only on one side, and her baby was having trouble latching on to breastfeed. Using OMT, I released restrictions in the connective tissue around the mother’s ribs and breast, which allowed her milk to come in more fully. I also used OMT on the infant’s head, neck, and shoulders, which dramatically improved his ability to suck. The good news is that by the time of their discharge from the hospital, both mother and baby were doing great, and baby was regaining weight. It is important to note that while applying OMT in the first few days after delivery is ideal, it can provide the same significant benefits for new mothers and babies for six weeks post-delivery.

So, whether for yourself, your new baby, or your older children, I encourage you to consider the benefits of OMT, and I look forward to seeing you at the Kaplan Center.

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