Many mums feel nervous about getting bodywork for their baby. Most people have not heard of biodynamic craniosacral therapy. It’s a leap of faith to see a new therapist in a therapy that is not widely known in Australia. Cranio treatment for mum, helps her to experience the therapy and also benefits baby. Long-held constrictions and patterns are released from the mother’s body which has a flow-on effect for baby.
Mums and babies systems are inextricably linked – more so than you might think! For example, during a baby cranio treatment, I may feel a constriction that seems difficult to shift (eg. tight shoulder muscle). When I treat mum the same constriction presents and it becomes clear that it originated in mum not baby! Cranio releases the constriction in mum, but also in her baby too. Her baby is simply mirroring her constriction. Interestingly, it may be one of the ways that trauma is passed down from one generation to the next. Mirroring can be partly explained through the concept of mirror neurons (thought to play a key role in empathy and social behaviour).
“Children do not just mirror what they see and hear, but also what they feel in other people. As sensitive children … we contact the internal space of our parent’s body with the internal space of our body… we mirror constrictions and emotions that are held within the inner depths of our parents bodies”Judith Blackstone – Trauma and the Unbound Body
What exactly are constrictions? Humans protectively constrict (or contract) the body when we experience something overwhelming. These constrictions are bound up with memories and emotions from the event. Cranio brings awareness to these constrictions through body sensations (and often emotions or memories) which are then released from the body. Let me give you an example of a constriction in a baby. Born via c-section, Sophie* experienced their first touch (around the back of the neck) as shocking or painful and held a constriction there. Any time she is touched in a similar way, she responds with the same emotions from the first event (anger or fear). This can often show up when placing babies in a car seat. Gentle touch in a cranio treatment can highlight this constriction and its emotional pattern, and allow it to resolve within that safe holding field. The next time a similar event happens, the response is different. In this case, Sophie* is less reactive, no longer triggered or better able to self-regulate strong emotions within this pattern.
The good news is babies have much fewer constrictions in their bodies than adults and tend to need fewer cranio sessions. Adults carry many patterns of experiences and may hold constrictions from as far back as their own birth. Its always fascinating what comes up in a cranio session!
I have just finished reading Judith Blackstone’s book Trauma and The Unbound Body. She does a fantastic job of explaining a lot of somatic concepts that mirror my experience of giving and receiving cranio treatment. I feel I am going to be quoting her quite a bit in the near future.