Slow to heal?

The body has an amazing ability to heal itself. But sometimes, this self-healing mechanism can get stuck or feel sluggish. Ailments that should realistically clear within a week or so can drag out for months. What is it that drives our healing? What gets in the way? And how does cranio help?

During a cranio session, I am able to tune into subtle rhythms of the body. We call this “primary respiration” because the body expands and contracts in a rhythmic quality, similar to our breath. Another term for this is the craniosacral rhythm. These rhythms are central to our healing and are sadly ignored by the medical model.   

Stress has a significant influence on the craniosacral rhythm and the ability of the body to heal itself. At the start of a session it is common to feel stress imprints on the system – a fast heart rate, tight chest, shallow breathing or an all over “buzzing” quality. After some time these imprints dissolve as the body finds safety in the present moment and shifts into a parasympathetic state – also called “rest and repair”. The stable nervous system of a craniosacral therapist acts as a model of health for the client’s system to resonate with and assists in this shift from stress. Our nervous systems are always communicating with the nervous systems of others around us.

Recently I treated client with a sore shoulder who had limited range of movement, he was heading down the path of scans and trips to the doctors for injections and physio treatment. After one session his shoulder was “better than ever and nearly back to normal”, this was with minimal contact at his shoulder! At the start of the treatment the effects of stress emerged as a disturbance in his system (that he could feel too). This state of being takes a considerable amount of energy to maintain and means this energy is not being used to heal the areas that need healing. Working with the whole and supporting the body to find stillness and the slower rhythms frees up this stuck energy to move to the places in the body that need support.

Similarly, a client with a persistent bruise (over months) found that one session of cranio shifted the bruise, with minimal “hands on” contact to the area. Initially her system was overlaid with stress imprints which acts as a barrier to her healing. During the session her body was able to switch from “fight or flight” mode to ”rest and repair”. and within days the bruise began to fade.

Our nervous system plays a huge role in our wellness. Cranio is one way to support the body to shift out of stress states so that the body has the best opportunity to heal. The attunement to the healing forces in a cranio session can shift the body towards health, sometimes within one session, though a series of treatments can help to change the body’s overall relationship to stressful events. It is quite the paradigm shift to consider that focusing on the health (healing forces) is what helps, rather than trying to fix what is broken. Refinding our wholeness is the key.

If you have a persistent health complaint that is dragging on or slow to heal, contact me to book a cranio treatment to orient your body back to health and wholeness.

Memory crying in babies

Babies cry – some more than others! Most of the time it is to communicate a “present moment” need, they are hungry, cold, bored, tired etc, and once the need is met, the crying stops. My experiences as a craniosacral therapist have also shown me that babies also cry to tell their story of what happened to them in the womb or around their birth. Karlton Terry calls these crying bouts “memory crying”. This cry sounds different or more intense than a “present needs” cry and often babies resist their parents attempts to shush and calm them. Memory crying is when the baby is experiencing sensations and emotions that related to an earlier overwhelming experience. Babies who are difficult to console are often brought for a cranio treatment although, interestingly, seemingly untroubled, happy babies may suddenly use the opportunity during a cranio session to communicate some strong emotions from their recent past.

Babies are aware and sensitive starting from the womb. There is plenty of research now to show that babies inutero share the same emotional experiences that their mother does and this has the capacity to shape them. Any part of their prenatal or post-natal journey can impact and leave an imprint on a baby’s system and become stored in the body. These body memories can be triggered by external stimuli –e.g.  a shirt being pulled over the head or being handled in a way that reminds them of their birth e.g. a c-section baby who is being placed into a car seat.  They can also arise during a cranio treatment where they feel safe and supported to fully express themselves to tell their story of pregnancy or birth.

Most babies find cranio to be calming and often settle off to a deep state during or afterwards. Cranio is permission based, during a treatment I carefully watch a baby’s body language, especially when I change holds. I ask “Is this ok for you? If not, I will move – you show me”. If they recoil in any subtle way from my touch, I pull back. Some of the “holds” may be triggering for them, eg a head hold for babies who have experienced a vacuum or forceps birth. Babies are in their bodies, not in their heads like most adults, and are great at knowing what they like and don’t like. They will let me know their preferences without resorting to crying. Saying that, there are times an emotional outburst is more likely, when I feel tension in the chest, diaphragm or throat shifting but interestingly it may or may not be accompanied by crying. As a new cranio graduate, I thought it was possible to avoid crying because the touch of a craniosacral therapist is so gentle and often when emotions arise during a session, they arise in subtle ways – fluttering sensations, sighs, or twitches and tremors as the accompanying muscle tension releases. Babies have shown me otherwise, using the cranio sessions to communicate their repressed emotions.

When I first started with this work, crying babies were a trigger for me. Crying babies reminded me of my experience with my second “colicky” son who cried for months. I felt so helpless and on high alert looking for a way to soothe him. While I know he has cows milk protein intolerance, I now wonder if he was also expressing emotions related to his time inutero. When I found out I was pregnant with him, my response was not a welcoming one. I felt too sleep deprived to have another baby. I found the pregnancy draining and unenjoyable. The field of pre and perinatal psychology acknowledges the impact these types of experiences have on babies. Knowing what I know now, I am now able to hold space for memory crying and to support parents to hold space too.

I recently worked with two babies who were clearly memory crying during their cranio session. These babies both surprised me when they suddenly and unexpectedly went from a happy “chatty” state to an intense emotional outburst. It can feel like it came out of nowhere and it can last for some time. The parents are often surprised that their baby has the capacity to hold such strong emotions under the surface, at such a young age! These emotions can range from anger, rage, sadness, grief, anxiety or fear. Body Psychotherapist, Thomas Harms in his “Emotional First Aid” approach talks of “assisted crying” where during these sudden outbursts we do not try to shush the baby (often babies refuse to be shushed anyway) but instead be fully present and centred in our bodies to hear the baby’s story. Sometimes naming the emotion may help – “I can see you are feeling angry right now” or empathising “Were you uncomfortable in the womb?”, “Was it a shock to be born that way?”. Babies understand more than we know, our tone of voice and calm presence is a comfort to them. The wave of emotion eventually passes and leads to a release of tension. The baby feels a sense of peace, of being fully seen and heard. The flow on effects may include deeper bonding, better sleep, reduced crying, greater communication skills or a developmental leap.

Just like adults, babies have a range of difficult experiences that need to be integrated and shared. We feel better if we have a good cry to a friend, one who listens without trying to distract from feelings or to try to fix things. I advocate for mothers to respond promptly to their baby’s present needs cry while at the same time to hold an awareness of the potential for the memory cry. Babies appreciate the opportunity for empathy and feel a sense of relief to get these pent up feeling out of their system or “off their chest”. Once the experience is brought to the surface then there is no longer a need to hold this in the body. The benefits of the experience can shape who they are and how they handle future difficult experiences.

If you feel your baby or child has not fully integrated some difficult perinatal experiences, then contact me to make an appt.

Low-cost baby cranio clinic

Here are the new dates for the next three months.

I am offering a monthly clinic for babies to receive biodynamic craniosacral therapy – by donation. All babies should have the opportunity to receive cranio, regardless of their parents’ financial situation. This is a great opportunity for your baby to experience this gentle therapy. Read below for more details….

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Who:

Pre-crawling babies (babies who have not received cranio before will be prioritised)

What:

Cranio is a light touch form of bodywork that is non-manipulative. Jenny uses a listening touch to calm babies nervous system, sparking a biological process, unique to each individual, to release held tensions, stresses and trauma from the body. Babies often find it to be deeply relaxing. Parents often report that baby is calmer, easier to settle and more comfortable in their body.

Why:

Cranio may help:

  • breastfeeding difficulties
  • fussy, hard to soothe, irritable babies
  • babies who have had an assisted birth (vaccuum /forceps/ C-section)
  • babies who experienced a fast birth or excessively long birth
  • babies who vomit frequently
  • newborns who do not wake for feeds
  • babies with digestive or sleep issues
  • premature babies or babies who have been separated from their mother.

When:

  • Thursday 22nd October – 9.30 – 2.30
  • Thursday 26th November – 9.30 -2.30
  • Thursday 17th December – 9.30 – 2.30

Where:

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Clinic – 74 Nollamara Ave, Nollamara.

Cost:

Donation based – suggestion at least $10. (*usual cost $60). If you find the treatment to be helpful for your baby, I would appreciate a facebook review.


Places are limited and by appointment only. So book early through the website or phone 0435 309 397.

Cranio for babies with a head preference

I recently had the privilege of working of with two babies who had a head preference and cranio was very helpful in increasing range of motion and infant comfort.

One little boy had significant torticollis from inutero positioning. This prevented him from latching well to the breast. His mum was “amazed” by the improvements. She herself booked in for a few sessions of cranio, it was so interesting to see the same constrictions show up in her body too. Baby shows much more progress when you help to release the jaw/neck tightness in mum.

Another baby I worked with over three sessions had significant neck tension and discomfort, which we suspected was from an external cephalic version (ECV). He was in a breech position and was assisted to turn head down while inutero by health professionals. His mother noted how painful the procedure was for her as she felt his head when it hit her pelvis. For the baby this can be a disorienting experience and, by the sounds of it for this baby, painful too as his head came into contact with her pelvic bones. He was extremely unsettled since birth. After two treatments, he was noticeably more comfortable in his body, sleeping better & crying less.

It is important to note that mums also need to be involved in treatment. It still astounds me to feel the same constriction patterns arise in the mums body. Often full healing is not possible until the tight jaw/shoulders/neck resolve in mums body. Mums and babies are so connected and often mirror each other body patterns.

Cranio is such a gentle and sensitve way to approach these kinds of injuries. Often if touch is the cause of the injury (despite best intentions), then the spacious empathic listening touch of a craniosacral therapist is the perfect way to create a sense of safety around touch in order for the body to release tensions and trauma.

For best results book a birth trauma package – three treatments spaced one week apart (including at least one mum and bub treatment).

Now Offering Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy at Mundaring Wellness Centre

I am excited to start treating from Mundaring Wellness Centre behind Cafe Mojo next week. This is a beautiful space, especially this time of year with spring arriving, and they make healthy and delicious food too. Why not make a day of it – book a treatment and have lunch.

Cranio can help any member of the family to connect to their body. To feel more balanced and calm and to build resilience. The therapy is perfect for settling the nervous system so that the body feels safe and better able to make inspired life choices. Many people report noticing their body in a new way that brings the unconscious to the surface. If you haven’t heard of it I encourage you to give it a try to see if it is a good fit for you. Click here for more info.

I have an appt available this Monday at 11.30am for those who don’t mind booking their self care spontaneously. Or contact me to find a time that works for you.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue as a cause of low supply

This week I worked with two mothers who were struggling with low supply due to insuffient glandular tissue (IGT). They didn’t feel their milk come in, they had minimal breast growth during pregnancy and they were needing to top up with almost full feeds of formula. Noone had mentioned to them the possiblity of IGT.

IGT is not well known among health professionals working with mothers and babies, or other mums. They are often given well meaning advice that does not work and may feel as though they are doing something wrong or failing their baby. They are not! Unfortunately there is not a lot of research behind this heartbreaking condition. Diana Cassar-Uhl (IBCLC) has contributed to the field of knowledge through research and written a fantastic book. We do know that the glandular tissue, where milk is made and stored, is underdeveloped, but not necessarily why. It can be hormonal or due to circumstances surrounding periods of breast development (inutero and during the teenage years). Mums may make as little as a few drops of milk or up to 3/4 of the milk, but despite their best efforts to increase supply need to supplement with formula (or donor milk).

It is often not until they consult with an IBCLC that they understand the reasons behind their milk supply struggles and then get to set realistic expectations around increasing supply or to make peace with their breastfeeding journey. Understanding their body and its limitations clears any doubt or confusion. IBCLC’s do have tools up their sleeve to support mums to work out exactly how much milk they make and tools to support supplementing at the breast. Ultimately the diagnosis can be healing in and of itself.

If this resonates please seek the emotional support and knowledge of an IBCLC.

For a more detailed discussion of IGT see this resource.

Cranio for Twins

I recently had three sets of twins book in for the low-cost baby cranio clinic, which got me thinking about I can best support twin babies. Two babies often means twice the price!

Instead I decided to offer the second twin half price.

Plus, knowing how hard it is to get out of the house with two babies, I am waiving the travel fee for home visits.

Twin babies are often born early, and spend time away from mum in special care. In order to support their survival, they are often subject to lots of medical procedures (including tubes for breathing and feeding). The “non-doing” touch during a cranio treatment is a welcome relief to the nervous system. Cranio can support them to switch out of survival mode, to build energy for feeding and to thrive.

A home visit for twins is now $90. Please share with anyone you know who has twins or contact me to make an appt.

Breastfeeding a baby with cows milk protein intolerance (CMPI) without giving up dairy

My second son was super unsettled. I remember it being one of the most difficult seasons of my life; looking after a screaming, unhappy baby and a toddler. I became suspicious that something I was eating was causing his discomfort. Apart from the constant crying, the only other symptom he had was constant nasal congestion (and significant cradle cap) – no blood in the stools, no rashes. I was quickly dismissed by doctors; told its normal for babies to cry.

Now I know that it was cows’ milk protein that was the issue! I want to share my story as someone who tried and failed to cut dairy from my diet (as a breastfeeding mother) and continued to breastfeed my son for over 2 years. Also to share what worked to lessen symptoms for my son (who is now ten years old, still eats dairy and no longer suffers from chronic nasal congestion). I know this information is helpful to all the breastfeeding mothers and babies that I frequently work with who are navigating this path. There can be a temptation to wean to formula, but formula itself is derived from cows’ milk protein and special formulas are often expensive, taste terrible and may be hard to access.

My sister and I with Chester
Top: My sister and her unhappy nephew. Bottom: Me, my toddler and a new unhappy baby

Cows’ milk allergy (CMA) is taken more seriously by doctors, than cows’ milk protein intolerance (CMPI). CMPI causes discomfort and often the baby is reported to be “thriving” because they are gaining weight. Whereas, CMA has more serious consequences (eg low infant weight gain, skin rashes, hives). And what about lactose intolerance? Is that an issue in babies? Lactose is the sugar component of milk. It is plentiful in human milk too. Eliminating lactose from the diet will not eliminate lactose from breastmilk. It is very rare for babies to have primary lactose intolerance, it’s often not the lactose that’s the problem, but the protein (casein, whey).

There is a lot of misinformation and confusion, even among health professionals. Amidst this confusion, parents of babies with CMPI are unsupported by the medical system. The burden lies with the mother who suffers through those precious early days, her heart breaking over not being able to help her unhappy baby and often no one in the family getting much sleep. In my case, health professionals were quick to offer me treatment in the form of antidepressants, which I refused. With a background in mental health nursing, I knew it was a situational crisis – the answer lay in finding the root cause of my son’s discomfort (and now it’s a passion of mine to encourage all mothers to do this!).

When he was a few weeks old, I decided to trial cutting out dairy from my diet and failed miserably! I normally eat like a bird, so reducing a major food group left me feeling more tired, stressed and miserable than I was already (and hungry!). I would do fine for days then demolish a large bar of chocolate – feeling really guilty. I really craved my morning cup of tea (with milk). I do feel I am strong willed by nature, but not in this department. Joy Anderson* (Dietitian and IBCLC) who specialised in this area, makes mention that the more addicted you are to a food, the more likely it is to be the offending substance.

Time passed and the intensity of those first few months faded as his attention was directed more at the outside world and less on internal sensations. Still the nasal congestion didn’t go – he was a really snotty kid with frequent ear infections (often babies will grow out of their food sensitivities, but my sons stuck around). I was told by another doctor that he had hayfever. It wasn’t an environmental sensitivity, it was food. My maternal gut instincts were confirmed, when at the age of six he told me “Mummy every time I drink milk, I get snotty”.

I am now reflecting on what has worked to reduce nasal congestion for my son over the years (he also found it unrealistic to give up dairy) as I currently implement this strategy in order to treat my dermatitis. If you are finding that dairy is contributing to your baby’s symptoms and are freaking out at the thought of giving it up. Here’s what I found in our case:

  • A2 milk is a lifesaver! My son may get a little bit snotty but he is able to clear it. I feel regular milk causes inflammation (aswell as mucus) that makes nasal passages difficult to clear. A2 milk has a protein that is better tolerated by those who are sensitive to A1 protein (found in most milk products).
  • Butter and cream are mostly fat, with a little bit of milk protein and may be tolerated.
  • Avoid processed foods with milk products in them (e.g. milk solids, skim milk powder).
  • Eat chocolate that is dairy free (e.g.dark chocolate or raw chocolate).
  • Cheese and yoghurt can be less troublesome for sensitive folk (with my son its hit and miss). The addition of enzymes (in cheese) and the fermentation process (in yoghurt) change the structure of the protein making it easier to digest for some.

Cutting out dairy for 2-3 weeks is often first line strategy for suspected cows milk sensitivity. For some mothers it is easy, for others its impossible. Some mothers may be able to get away with a low dairy intake.

*This is my story of my journey and what I have learnt along the way but it may not work for everyone. For more support there are dietitians who work with breastfeeding dyads who can provide individualised advice.


Please contact me if you suspect your baby has a cows milk sensitivity. As someone who has walked the path personally, and worked with lots of breastfeeding mothers with sensitive, unsettled babies, I can support you in working out the cause of your baby’s discomfort. Phone consults, clinic and home visits available.

Other resources:

Getting my own sessions – thriving (not just surviving)

I’m super excited to receive cranio myself this weekend. These days I tend to schedule cranio every 3-4 weeks for maintainance. I had to cancel my last appt due to a spontaneous family holiday (so I am over due for a session – I can feel it). I know I need a cranio treatment when I start to feel moody or down, when the little voice in my head seems louder and more critical.

When I first started treatment three years ago I gifted myself weekly sessions for a while, as I peeled back layers of history from my body. Slowly releasing patterns of experience that no longer served me. I reconnected with my pelvis and womb space after a traumatic experience birthing my first child. For days after each session I would notice rushes of feel-good hormones coursing through my body. Cranio was resourcing me. As time went on I was able to space out sessions, noticing a lasting sense of balance and resilience – increased emotional regulation and a sense of physical and energetic alignment.

Regular cranio for me, contributes to a sense of flow in my life, I feel I can trust myself and my body to guide me in making the right decisions for me, my relationships have blossomed and I feel more motivated and confident to be exactly who I am – no apologies.

I am so grateful to have found this wonderful therapy, its the difference between surviving and thriving!

If you feel drawn to experience cranio, see this page for more details about what to expect and prices.