As a craniosacral practitioner with a special interest in early
I often work with babies and small children and of course their
parents. here are some stories from my Craniosacral case notes. I have
changed the names to protect the privacy of my clients.
Michael has had four ear infections and a burst eardrum, and he is
just one year old. His mother tells me he hardly ever smiles. Rachel
wishes she could have brought him here sooner but she was unable to,
because of post natal depression. I ask her to tell me something of
Baby Michael cried for 45 minutes after his birth and didn’t feed for36 hours. As an infant he seemed to have a persistent headache, he was nervous, hypersensitive and did not sleep well.
Michael was born after a chemical induction, and had the cord around his neck. His mother was in distress about the whole experience. She had been in shock throughout the rapid, intense, labour, shaking and sick between each contraction. Rachel had wanted to wait, to let Michael arrive in his own time. Her other babies had birthed naturally after 42 weeks of gestation. She was angry that this time the hospital insisted on induction. Rachel felt disempowered, and suffered postnatal depression for many months following the birth.
I explain a bit about how I work and that it can be helpful sometimes to work with the mother, as the baby may mirror her unresolved distress.
It seems to me they are both still in shock.
I ask Michael if it is ok to be near him. He is standing looking out
of the window. After a while I say “I am wondering if it might be ok to
put my hand on you here”. I lightly place my hand at the base of
his spine, adding, “You can let me know if this is not ok.” .He stays
with it and gradually I feel shock release from his whole system. Later
he lets me contact his tummy, and briefly touch his head, and he
clearly lets me know when he has had enough. Before we finish, I
contact both Michael and his mum, supporting their combined energy
system and acknowledging their shared experience.
Rachel tells me her little boy has been much happier since our first
session, he has even been smiling.
I talk a bit about tunneling games and repatterning birth. Then I let Michael show me what he needs. I follow him as he explores and I echo his movements with my words. Lightly, I place one hand at his midback and one on his tummy. I say “you can show me if this is not ok ”. After a while we break contact and he continues his exploring. Then he creeps round to the back of my arm and burrows, head first, tunnelling through. He knows what he needs. I tell him, “that’s it, now you can choose. When you were born you couldn’t choose. You had to come out when you weren’t ready. Now you can do it your way, when you are ready.
Shortly after, Michael toddles over to get his coat and begins to put it on.
I watch, wondering to myself... Is he saying it is time go now, time to finish... has he had enough for today... ?
I say “You can decide when it is time to get ready to go”
... or is he choosing to empowering himself in the birth process, getting ready to go, or to be “born” when he decides?
I hold these questions inside and watch.
Rachel says “you will need your shoes if you are getting ready to go”.
As soon as his shoes and jacket are fastened he shows us just what he needs to do. He goes into his own process of unwinding his birth, bending backwards off his mother’s knee and crying. Rachel and I support him. He works at this for five minutes, then cuddles in on his mummy and drops into a deep sleep. I give very light contact at his neck and then a gentle balancing while he sleeps.
It is wonderful to see how Michael knows exactly what he needs to
do. At the next session, he does more work on resolving and
repatterning his birth. He touches his distress and then comes out
again, giving himself clear breaks, taking ‘time out’ at the window.
How wise this little boy is. He knows instinctively to go just to the edge of his trauma, and how to come back, resource himself and get centred again.
Michael is now eighteen months. His mother is concerned that their
doctor has suggested he may need an operation to put grommets in his
ears. Rachel does not want her little boy to have this operation.
I talk about the effects of induction, and compression in the head, and we look at a birth picture book together. Now Michael is ready to let me make contact at his neck. He lets me know clearly, when he needs a break to have a drink, look at a book or gaze out of the window, then he comes back for more contact work.
I alternate, contact at his neck or eustacian area, with resourcing at the midline. He explores the room, then lies on his back on the floor. Without words he asks for a balancing. He is great at letting me know what he needs.
Michael has had no colds for six weeks and he is lively and active. Now he is creating a game with the stuffed snake and the face hole in the treatment couch. It seems to me he is working through another aspect of his birth. It is lovely to see his mischief and playfulness. Rachel tells me he is playing the tunnelling game at home and having fun with it. It is still not ok to touch his ears, but gradually the compression in his head is easing. He is even able to wear his hood now, without complaining.
By the eighth session Michael is willing for me to work on his head and even at his ears. His balance seems affected with this work, as he is a bit wobbly on his feet during the session, but he is steady again by the end. During this session, twice he lay down on the table and twice on the floor for balancing.
At the next session Michael does more tunnelling, pushing hard with
his legs, empowering himself, repatterning his birth.
Michael has not had any ear trouble for some time, and Rachel and I agree to make the next session a completion.
When they arrive, I tell Michael this is the last session, and ask him to show me what he needs. He gets straight into exploring the room, then wants a bit of balancing before going out the door to investigate the hall and entrance lobby. It seems as if he is saying good-bye to everything, the cat shaped doorstop, the whale picture, the birds, the garden, the phone, the bell. Then he returns to the room and lies down on his back, lifting his feet, inviting one of my hands to support his sacrum and the other his feet.
This little boy knows exactly what he needs to complete.
Ellie was born by Caesarean section, one week before her due date.
At 32 weeks, placenta previa had been discovered, so the last two
months of pregnancy were a difficult time. Ellie was subjected to
frequent ultrasound, and her parents were in an anxious and vigilant
Claire tells me Ellie is jumpy and restless. She sleeps very little and is unsettled and tense even when asleep. She fusses and stops and starts when feeding. It seems to me that Ellie has been affected by her parents’ fears during the weeks before her birth. She experienced high levels of adrenalin while still in the womb.
This is our second session together.
At first, Ellie is on her mummy’s knee. I put my hand lightly under the baby's sacrum. She is agitated and fussy, feeds for a bit then cries. At my suggestion, Claire lies on the treatment couch with the baby on her tummy. I make contact with the mother at her head and sacrum, supporting both mother and baby. After a while, I suggest to Claire that she talks to her baby about what happened, and tell her how she had felt during those last two months before the birth.
The mum was wonderful. She told the baby how scared she had been. How she had counted the days, checking each morning that there was no bleeding... How Ellie’s daddy had talked to the baby, telling her to hang on in there. Claire told Ellie how well she had done holding on till the very last week.
It was so moving. I sat with tears running down my face and watched as shock visibly released from the baby. Later I moved my hands from the mother on to the baby, who became completely relaxed and went into a peaceful sleep. To her mother's amazement Ellie didn't wake even when she was moved into the pushchair, nor did she jump when someone banged a door outside the treatment room.
It was such a deeply moving session,
a privilege to witness
love in action.
Jim and Cathy were worried about their baby. At six months Rosie was
waking at night in distress and discomfort. When they brought her to
see me it was clear that both mother and baby were still carrying the
emotional and physical effects from a difficult birth.
Cathy was tearful as she told me their story. Labour had begun naturally with the waters breaking, but after twenty-four hours in hospital, she had been given an induction and an epidural. For Cathy the experience had seemed like a violation. She said it felt as if all control had been taken away and her baby was born in a state of shock.
Chemical Induction can feel chaotic, painful and out of control for
both mother and baby who are unable to co-operate and work together. It
can also be a hormonal shock to the baby, whose own system would
normally trigger the birth. The contractions speed up and become
intense and painful as they force the baby's unprotected head hard
against the unopened cervix.
Rosie was often waking at night crying, with a sore tummy and wind.
Stress hormones held in her body from the birth were probably
contributing to colic and digestive problems, while compression in her
cranial base from the fierce pressure of induced contractions seemed to
be affecting the nerve supply to her intestines. I noticed too that she
had little power in her legs. A weakness that originated from the
lumbar area of the spine. I had a strong sense that during her birth
she had been unable to push with her feet to get herself out.
Birth can set a pattern for how we cope with major changes and
challenges in life. From her experience of birth, the message Rosie's
body was carrying might have been something like "when I have to cope
with difficulties I feel stuck, things get scary and out of control, I
get a terrible headache, my legs feel weak and I feel powerless to get
My hope for Rosie's treatment, as well as resolving the distress and physical difficulties, was to empower her and rescript her birth message.
Over a series of treatments I worked slowly and gently with Rosie
using the listening touch of Craniosacral therapy to support her as she
released shock and restrictions held in her body. During each session I
talked with Rosie, saying what I was about to do and mirroring in words
what she seemed to be expressing. At first Rosie needed to show us her
distress about her birth and have it heard. I talked with Jim and Cathy
about the importance of acknowledging and receiving their baby's
feelings. Rosie made it very clear to us all, that she needed both her
mummy and her daddy to hear her story. I worked with the family
together, involving both parents as much as possible, and occasionally
giving Cathy an individual treatment as part of the session.
From the patterns of movement that emerged in the sessions it seemed
likely that Rosie was in a ‘jack knife’ position at birth. She even
sometimes slept folded forward on her legs. Bit by bit, as her body
released restrictions, and became more fluid, Rosie's initial
difficulties healed. She was no longer in distress at night and power
returned to her legs. However, when she began walking, she waddled as
her legs turned out from the hips. I felt that what Rosie needed next
was to repattern her birth, to learn to use her legs to push
herself out. I introduced a tunnelling game. Jim and Cathy and I played
this with Rosie for most of that session. Before the end of the
session, I said to Rosie:
"We must finish soon. What do you need before you go?"
She wanted to climb on to the treatment table for Craniosacral balancing.
I encouraged the family to play the birth simulation game at home, and was delighted to see that in two weeks Rosie's legs were straight and she was walking normally.
During her birth Rosie had not had any choice. She was forced out by
induced contractions. In her final sessions Rosie made up her own
choosing game. Shutting herself in the porch, she practised deciding
when to come into the treatment room and be welcomed, and whether or
not she needed help when she chose to open the door. She played this
game with us over and over, resolving for herself the message of her
It was lovely to see how Rosie's confidence had grown and how the
family relationships developed and deepened during the course of her
treatment. At the end of the last session after we said good-bye Rosie
ran back into the room and climbed on the chair where her mother
usually sat at the end of a session. "Have we forgotten something
Rosie?" I asked. Only after the family had gone did I realised she was
trying to tell me that we had forgotten to make another appointment .
We had obviously not made the ending clear to Rosie. I felt it was
important to respect this message. I phoned Cathy, explaining what I
thought and inviting her to bring her little girl for a complementary
Rosie, now eighteen months, arrived for this last meeting lively, happy and confident. She clearly just wanted to show me how agile and clever and well she is.
It was a perfect completion.
Links and References
Babies to Heal
Understanding Early Difficulties
The Importance of Touch