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Expanding my services: Zoom baby cranio treatments*

*Special Offer: First session half price until June 30th 2022

Next month it is three years since I graduated as a craniosacral therapist. My practice has evolved in that time and in recent months, even more so. I am now literally expanding my services, offering craniosacral therapy for babies who do not live in Perth.

Hear me out….

Craniosacral therapy is essentially a touch therapy. When I first started training, I couldn’t believe that gentle touch had the capacity to facilitate healing – now I know that it can. What I did not see coming, was that touch is not an essential component. Personally, touch was a gateway into listening to the subtle phenomena of bodies – our hands are very sensitive and can be trained to pick up all sorts of information about the human body. But it goes further than that…. in my case my hands are like an antenna and the body is the instrument that is listening!

In my cranio training, I discovered that I am an empath, meaning I mirror other people’s emotional and physical restrictions in my own body. My craniosacral skills (orientation to the craniosacral rhythm or tides/stillness) give me the tools to shift these restrictions for others with or without touch. More and more I found I didn’t need to touch areas of the body to affect change. Simply holding the feet and using my consciousness to bring awareness to stuck places in the body was enough. Many times, the energy from my client’s body would push me away from the body, and change would only happen if I stopped touching the body – touch was interfering with the healing process!

The COVID pandemic has led to many craniosacral therapists migrating to a more touch-free way of working (which has created controversy within the field). Internationally, many craniosacral therapists were not allowed to practice, with touch in general being actively discouraged. Social distancing guidelines saw us stepping away from our fellow humans.

Sometimes crisis leads to new opportunities…

Humans are built to connect. We are used to interacting with the world via five traditional senses – taste, smell, touch, hearing, and sight. But there are more senses than that (up to 33!). Some of us are more sensitive than others, but I believe, with training, all of us have the capacity to fine-tune our different senses. I have fine-tuned my senses to to pick up “information” that is being shared among us via our energy fields. I now feel it is my calling to use my skills to help babies and their families.

My journey to touch-free work started with toddlers. Toddlers don’t like to be touched too much so I began to read a toddler’s system, sitting next to them or being in the same room. I figured that its possible because our nervous systems extend past our skin. But then I also noticed that I was picking up information from a baby’s system on the way to a home visit – I would get a tight jaw or would feel a panic in my system that I knew was not mine – when I got to treat the baby – sure enough it was theirs! Once during a zoom lactation consult, I felt quite sure I could feel the baby’s activated nervous system but soon dismissed it. It wasn’t until a potential cranio client contacted me for treatment that I had the opportunity to see if I could tune in and treat via a zoom call. This particular bub was booked in for surgery and mum didn’t want to risk COVID exposure but was torn because she wanted to try cranio to see if it could offer relief to her baby who had been suffering since birth – see the testimonial below. I gave her two free zoom treatments and each time bub had a long 5.5hr sleep after the session! Something worked! This is more in the realm of quantum physics!? Come on science…catch up!

And so… for the last two months I have offered free treatments over zoom to babies to explore this concept. And YES! I can definitely tune in via distance – intention and directed consciousness are key – and more importantly, YES! I can use my craniosacral skills to help them to resolve the physical and emotional restrictions from their perinatal history. The results are as effective as in person treatments. It feels no different to me as if I am in the same room as these babies. It still blows my mind!

Here are the testimonials I received:

Our experience so far with Jenny has been amazing and I am so excited for future sessions. I reached out to Jenny to help my 8-week-old daughter. My baby has a medical issue that requires surgery (tomorrow) so for the past two weeks we have been isolating as I couldn’t risk any covid exposure before surgery. After a lengthy phone call, in which Jenny showed such patience and compassion, Jenny offered to try a zoom session. It was a first for both of us and I kept an open mind as I wasn’t sure what to expect but after our first session my baby had the most restful sleep she’d ever had! Over the following days we saw big improvements in her sleep and overall calmness. She was actually able to be awake without crying and even gave us her first smile. Her muscle tension in her neck has been better which is helping her head preference, tummy time and improve her latch. In our second session I noticed my baby physically responding to treatment, Jenny would mention a release in the right leg for example and my baby would stretch her right leg, Jenny said she felt some nausea right before my baby vomited. We have been so impressed and noticed such a difference in our baby that my husband and I will be booking in for treatment in the near future. Thank you Jenny for everything you have done and continue to do for my family. We appreciate you so much and look forward to further treatment

Chelsea

I recently had a session with Jenny via zoom for my one-month-old who was waking up and screaming throughout the night constantly and who was just overall unsettled most of the time. Since the session with Jenny, my little one has been so calm and goes straight back to sleep after feeding during the night and is overall more calm and relaxed. I can’t recommend Jenny enough for the relief my babies newfound calmness has bought me

Jacqueline Brayne

I had an online zoom session with Jenny for my 4-week-old. He was experiencing a lot of discomfort in his tummy and this was making him unsettled a lot of the time. During the session my baby had a lot of emotional release. it was amazing to see things shift as Jenny went through different areas of his body where he was holding onto emotions, having then come up and then he would completely calm. Since having two sessions he is a lot more settled. he has many moments of calm happy baby now. he also doesn’t cry to the same level of intensity as he previously did. I am so grateful and fascinated by the work Jenny does.

Kylie Whitfield

I had a session via zoom with my sweet baby boy who struggles to sleep well 1-2 nights a week. It’s been interesting to see his changes over the past couple of days, the best way I could describe it is even more comfy in his skin. He is more happy to be put down and goes to sleep really easily, including his day naps. Still waking up frequently at night but more settled to go back to sleep. Which makes for a happier Mama & baby

Gemma Taylor
This gorgeous guy interacted with me as if I was in the same room (shame I couldnt capture his smile!). He resolved a difficult NICU experience over three zoom treatments.

Zoom baby treatments can be a little more challenging. On a practical level when babies are releasing emotions – it can be harder to communicate with the parents over the memory crying. Also, if baby body language comes up and baby needs to do a rebirthing process – I can guide parents through the process, but it is harder to describe in words than to show in person. But it can be done – and with good effect.

To be honest, I am quite nervous about “coming out” and offering zoom baby treatments. I wonder if the world is ready for it? Folks are sceptical, and quick to ridicule or dismiss that which they don’t understand. It does take a leap of faith and a fair amount of trust. I am optimistic that change is happening though, that the general public is more open to alternative healing modalities, especially where western medicine has not been able to help.

I credit healers like Charlie Goldsmith for leading the way. Charlie heals over Facebook and allows others to watch. Because he doesn’t charge for his services, he changes the script – that distance healing is not the realm of charlatans out to make a buck from gullible people. It is not my intention to make lots of money either. Yes, I am excited about my skills being accessible to more babies – but not for the money – purely because I care about babies and want them to start life feeling more peaceful. For their trauma to be acknowledged and resolved, instead of being carried around in their tissues/ nervous system for decades, shaping how they react to challenges. This is big to me!! – my (humble) contribution to peace on earth.

Personally, I need there to be an exchange, as I have bills to pay and the work itself can be draining and involves much rest and regulation in-between clients. For this reason, I limit the number of clients I see (2-3 clients a day – 4 days a week) and as much as possible I reserve my energy for working with babies with birth or perinatal trauma, those that are unsettled or having feeding issues. There is a real need for this currently as birthing practices are highly medicalised and babies are suffering, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

If this sparks an interest and you are open to exploring how zoom cranio can help your baby – get in touch, or share with anyone that may benefit from my services.

Until 30th June 2022 I am offering the first session half price ($35).

Stress: An overlooked cause of unsettled babies

When our baby cries, we immediately feel they must be hungry, tired, overstimulated or gassy? If it becomes a pattern, we might consider colic – a term often used for babies who cry excessively for no apparent reason. What if there was a reason? And that reason is to communicate stress or repressed emotions from early life experiences? Those that may have been stressful, painful or overwhelming for them, including birth? Our culture tends to ignore or deny the fact that babies experience stress and have emotional experiences that are every bit as complex and real as the rest of us. In this article, I explain how to recognise stress in babies (it’s not just crying), what kind of things can be stressful for babies, how the nervous system works and how to best to support babies through their difficulties.

How can you tell if your baby is stressed?

Here are some signs and symptoms to look for:

  • Excessive or inconsolable crying*
  • Tense muscles; frowning, arms rigid and in front of the chest, shoulders held up around the ears, tight jaw
  • Feeding difficulties eg. fussy feeding, cannot latch at the breast
  • Sleep issues eg. does not transition in and out of sleep smoothly, difficulty getting baby to sleep, waking with an intense cry
  • Exaggerated startle reflex
  • Tremors or shakiness
  • Hypersensitive to touch
  • Desire not to be held or inability to put baby down for even a few moments
  • Avoidance of eye contact

*Babies who have stopped crying or don’t cry very much are not necessarily stress free. Studies on babies during sleep training, have shown that the stress hormone cortisol remains high in babies who have stopped calling out to parents. I can palpate/feel an activated nervous system in a sleeping or quiet baby during a cranio treatment (more about that below). 

It is becoming more widely accepted that babies are conscious in the womb and are affected by the emotions and stresses of their mother. We tend to overlook babies experience of birth. We recognise that birth is a huge experience for the mother, emotionally and physically, but it is also for the baby. Often, before they are able to integrate the experience of the birth; ideally placed directly on the mother’s chest and left alone to rest – they also may then be subject to medical interventions that are both unexpected and confusing. There are a myriad of circumstances that babies may find stressful. Not all babies react to these events in the same way but simply being aware of the potential for stress and trauma is supportive for the baby.

What kinds of things are stressful for babies?*

  • Induction of labour via drip
  • Premature birth
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN) experience
  • Difficult births: being stuck during labour; long or fast births; assisted births (vacuum, forceps, c-sections)
  • Near death experience or deprivation of oxygen (including babies with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
  • Medical procedures or hospitalisation e.g., circumcision, excessive oral exercises after tongue tie release
  • Abusive parental relationship
  • Prolonged maternal stress or depression.
  • Unintended pregnancy /ambivalence from either parent about the pregnancy / Being given up for adoption
  • Death in the family

*An Integrative Approach to Treating Babies and Children:  Multidisciplinary Guide by John Wilks

When I realised my son had unresolved stress in his nervous system from his early birth, this ignited my passion as a craniosacral therapist to help to ease unnecessary suffering in babies, and to raise consciousness of the existence of stress in babies. My first birth was highly medicalised and followed the typical cascade of intervention: induced (against my instincts) with a syntocinon drip….pethidine….epidural….episiotomy and he was pulled into the world via vacuum. He had a swelling on his head called a cephalohematoma. I was left traumatised from the birth, with lasting physical and emotional consequences but I did not fully consider the impact of the experience on the health and wellbeing of my son. Looking back, for months he would wake from sleep screaming as if he was being murdered. Plus he was a sickly child! Unbeknownst to me at that time, the birth had a lasting effect on his nervous system. When I finally discovered craniosacral therapy, he was ten years old and, according to the craniosacral therapist, his nervous system was in “global activation”, primed to fight or flight. Having now supported many infants with similar activated nervous systems and witnessing how quickly they resolve the stress during treatment, I wish he could have had the same release soon after his difficult birth. To say I wish I had known about it sooner would be an understatement!

Tuning in to the nervous system of babies

During a cranio treatment, I use my hands and body to tune into the nervous system. The nervous system will start to show me its patterns of experience.  An activated sympathetic nervous system can feel like an electrified buzz through the whole body, the heart can beat harder and faster than normal and the breath is either held, or rapid and shallow, and muscles and tissue are contracted. This is a survival strategy also known as fight or flight mode. The body cannot properly heal easily in a sympathetic “activated” state.

Babies are uniquely vulnerable, as they cannot run away or fight, so when the fight or flight response has not resulted in avoidance of the stressor, a baby may go into a freeze state. Freeze is a survival strategy activated by the parasympathetic nervous system, meaning the nervous system is shut down or dissociated. These babies can be floppy with low muscle tone or a ‘good baby” that cries very little and sleeps a lot. A baby whose nervous system is in freeze feels different in a cranio session – there is a fogginess or spaciness to the system at first until the body starts to attune with the therapist’s nervous system and remembers its healthy original blueprint. It can be common to feel subtle shuddering movements or muscles start to twitch as the nervous system unfreezes.

The ideal healing state is one of rest and relaxation. When the nervous system is in a parasympathetic state (not freeze), the breath is slower and deeper, the heart is in a coherent rhythm, and muscles and tissues soften. During a craniosacral session, this feels like a slow tidal rhythm of energy, expanding and contracting through the body and tissues. The body then starts to let go of physical and emotional restrictions.

What can we do to minimise stress/ trauma in babies?

Life is stressful! It’s impossible to avoid stress completely and it’s important to remember that not all stress is toxic – some stress is tolerable or even positive, fostering resilience and growth. Trauma is what happens when our nervous system becomes overwhelmed, often when something has happened too fast or for too long. Or because we simply felt alone or unsupported during an event. This story or imprint can remain cycling or unresolved in the nervous system. Understanding the nervous system and how to help it to integrate our stresses is important in order to avoid overwhelm.

A few ways to help your baby to minimise stress:

Stress in babies can be integrated healthily through responsive parenting – including communication, presence, listening, empathy, touch and communication.

  • Babies understand more than we know, they take great comfort in our tone of voice and understand the feelings behind our words. We can talk to them and differentiate our feelings from theirs eg. “I was really sad/stressed while you were growing inside me because (xyz) but this is my stress and it has nothing to do with you. Its not yours to carry. You can let it go. You are safe now”.
  • They can feel our grounded presence and calm nervous system. While we can’t always be in a calm state, we can take a few moments to feel into our body; feel our feet; feel our seat and be an embodied presence during their difficult moments.
  • Any medical procedures for babies need to be carried out with compassion – ideally with parents present or soon after. Choose your practitioners wisely.
  • Simply acknowledging that our babies might be expressing emotions rather than present moment needs (eg, hungry, dirty nappy), can support babies. They know if we “get it” as they are very much n tune with the feelings of the people around them. Naming the emotion can be helpful eg “I can see you are feeling angry right now – I hear you” “Is that how it was for you? Tell me, I’m here”.
  • Babies tend to need a slower pace, so slowing potentially stressful experiences down is supportive. Letting babies know what is coming up for them is an empathetic way to prepare babies for events. We can even talk to them inutero and let them know of an upcoming c-section or induction.
  • Can we be present to strong emotions in our child? Are we quick to shush them? We can notice our own triggers and tendencies and have compassion for ourselves. We too, may have unresolved early traumas, with many of us being left to cry it out as babies.
  • As mothers/primary caregivers we also need support for ourselves too. Eg. support through family and friends, or cranio support to calm our own nervous system. A doula is a great investment for your birth – supporting your process supports your baby inutero.
  • Touch and close contact increase oxytocin levels. Oxytocin (the love hormone) is the antidote to cortisol (the stress hormone). Things like skin to skin contact, baby wearing and safe co-sleeping are healing for babies. However, some babies may be tactile defensive, meaning that touch is a trigger for stress, maybe its just on certain parts of their body. You can still provide support by being physically present and using less tactile means to instill a sense of security. Or being careful to avoid touching any sensitive areas.
  • Oxytocin is also released during breastfeeding, in both mum and baby. Many babies regulate their nervous system by feeding frequently at the breast, so where possible allow unlimited access to the breast. Other babies will act out their stress at the breast – with fussy feeding or latching issues – these babies greatly benefit from a combined lactation/cranio consult.
  • As parents we would rather suffer than see our children suffer. It hurts us to know they may have suffered unnecessarily or without appropriate support at the time. It is never too late to heal though! Even adults can heal their early life trauma with the right support. Cranio is a great way to access and resolve these early imprints.

As a culture we have a history of overlooking infant stress, forgetting that babies are sensitive beings that are having their own experience of their environment. On an unconscious level, the nervous system just wants a feeling of safety to be restored; to rest, to slow down, to feel supported. Our calm “parasympathetic” nervous system then assists the intelligence of our body to heal itself. Studies have shown the long-term impact of early life stress can lead to increased risk of anxiety disorders, cancer, substance use, heart disease, immune disorders, social struggles and relationship problems. Acknowledging and resolving stress in early life has the potential to change this trajectory.

Babies who have not been able to integrate their stress may greatly benefit from cranio treatment.   Having cranio sessions in the first few months of life can make a significant and positive impact to both their present and future wellbeing.

Get in touch if you feel your baby needs more support.


For a more in depth look at this topic, I highly recommend Mia Kalef’s book It’s Never Too Late : Healing Prebirth And Birth At Any Age and The Secret Life of Babies : How Our Prebirth and Birth Experiences Shape Our World


The challenges of being sensitive

One of the challenges of being a craniosacral therapist is encountering the belief systems of clients (or with babies – their parents). I understand! Before I got into this work I, too, was sceptical – how can light touch do anything?? And how does the craniosacral therapist feel all those things? With the hands? Through the body?

But, in the two years of training myself to tune into subtle sensations, I was shocked to find that not only could I feel what was happening in the clients body through my hands, but also in my own body!! I have a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) and science is yet to fully explain this phenomenon. There are some studies on emotional contagion and mirror neurons and I absolutely loved reading this Phd Touched by Touching which looks at the bi-directional nature of touch and the embodied experience of bodyworkers – it was incredibly validating! At first, I was in denial about my ability to feel from my body, believing these sensations were simply my body’s own healing being triggered in a session – but no! – countless sessions with adults validated that these somatic imprints that I was feeling, were the same thing they were experiencing. A body-to-body resonance. I now completely trust it and it guides me in a session – a true gift!

When this ability awakened in me, I became very sensitive, unable to be in crowded, visually busy, noisy environments. My ability to function in daily life was extremely limited. I was chronically dizzy, and ended up being diagnosed by a neurologist with persistent postural perceptual dizziness (aswell as being told by other health professionals that nothing was wrong with me and that I needed to see a psychologist or to go on SSRI medication). I now believe that many people on SSRI’s and those suffering from dizziness, anxiety or depression are actually also super sensitive, picking up on the energies and emotions of others, people struggling to function in this fast paced, noisy world. My healing journey was a very isolating one that has taken me years to understand and harness, involving deep reflection, radical self care and letting go of relationships and jobs that no longer served me.  

In the past, as a nurse, I recall emotionally struggling through some difficult shifts, patients were dying, suffering – their families too. I was told that I will eventually “toughen up”, but instinctively I didn’t want to. I am now at a point where I truly value my sensitivity. I see it as a gift and I am tired of hiding it to fit in with the expectations of society.  It allows me to be a sensitive therapist that can recognise the tensions and inner healing forces in others. In babies this is even more valuable because they can’t talk, sure, they cry but they can’t tell you specifically what is wrong – but their body can in a cranio treatment. Sometimes information from others comes to me without even putting my hands on a  baby/person (eg. I suddenly get a sore neck or shoulder). Professionally it can be an awkward thing to explain to someone. Many of my cranio clients come with an open mind but my lactation clients have often never heard of cranio and I am introducing a completely new concept to them. Other baby clients are referred to me by an LC or midwife but their parents are not quite sure what to expect.

I have received regular cranio sessions for years now, during many of the sessions the therapist held my feet for the whole session. My body is so used to the healing space that it knows exactly how to self-correct in the presence of a listening touch. Recently I received a completely hands-off, in-person cranio treatment. My body is now so sensitive that I don’t necessarily need direct touch to stimulate my own self-healing. It still blows my mind that this is possible (though working with mobile toddlers has also shown me it is). In fact, my nervous system and energy field prefers light touch or “far” touch. Most manipulative work puts my system into protection mode, not healing mode. I do find that the people who most resonate with cranio work are those who are sensitive and open, including babies and children (esp those with autism) – a little (touch) goes a long way! Those who don’t feel much in a session are more likely to be drawn to bodywork that is more tangible – different strokes for different folks (literally)!

One thing I am grateful for is the fact that my kids will grow up knowing that touch heals, that I have been able to help them shift sore necks, backs, knees, ear infections, nasty head injuries and headaches – often in just one treatment. They haven’t had to discover this at middle age like me. I often feel when they have a headache without touching them and they have no doubt this is possible – how cool is that!?

My son Chester getting a treatment for an ear infection

Cranio is a hard thing to describe and is best experienced. But it is a beautiful therapy and it works! I have seen incredible results; babies who sleep better, who cry less and adults whose pain resolves. So I continue to put myself out there – mostly for the babies, to bring peace to their systems – despite external judgement and my own fears of rejection and ridicule. I don’t care what people think anymore (most of the time). The therapy takes a leap of faith, a suspension of belief on the parents’ part, but it does not hurt – it heals! I am proud of the work I do and feel privileged that parents trust me to work with their babies, even if they don’t understand it.

Please get in touch if you consider yourself a sensitive person, or want to experience this gentle work for you or your baby/child.

*This article was inspired by Anita Moorjani’s book Sensitive is the New Strong

A Toddler Tells Her Birth Story

Did you know that babies and young children remember their birth?

I recall my son saying, when he was a toddler “mum you punched me in the stomach when I was born”. Now, I don’t remember doing this, but I do remember the scramble to get him from the bottom of the birth pool, when I wrongly assumed the midwife would catch him. I went from being on my knees and leaning on the side of the pool to flipping over and grabbing him. Perhaps I did accidentally knock his stomach with my hands??!

My experiences as a craniosacral therapist have also shown me, that given the opportunity, a baby or toddler may suddenly start telling me their birth (or prenatal) story – through body language, somatic imprints or emotions. It is not uncommon for babies to take one look at me and start to memory cry!

Recently, a regular client had just had her second birthday party. It had been a while since I treated her. Now she could speak. Her mum had asked me to do a session because she had bumped her head. While this imprint did show up, she was not keen on any touch, but instead started to play with me… her play was very specific, detailing her conception and birth journey.

Tunnels tend to feature stongly.

She was fortunate to have a home birth without intervention, so not as tricky as some of the babies I treat, but still – she had a story to tell! She showed me an “egg” and a “tunnel” (many times repeating the word tunnel), and proceeded to show me the steps of how she got here, how she was “stuck” screwing up her face and tucking her self into a ball while pulling out bracelets from the folds of her plush red sofa. So creative! She would repeat the key themes for me for emphasis. There was a sense of empowerment in her experience, of moving through a challenge and overcoming it.

Somehow she knew that I was able to hear her story – the story emerging without any intention on my part. It is one of my favourite “craniosacral” sessions, and as I said, I didn’t touch her at all. More of an “Integrative Baby Therapy” session than cranio. This therapy is part of a movement to recognise that babies are sentient beings, having their own experience of birth, and that how we are born has a significant influence on us. Babies and young children are more than capable of communicating this in the presence of others who recognise this as truth. It still blows me away that somehow our bodies, and/or our consciousness can recognise when someone else is open to listening. So much communication happens beyond what is spoken. It remains one of lifes mysteries that science is yet to fully unravel.

Babies and children remember their birth and being in the womb! Though with time, and our cultures lack of awareness, these experiences are slowly eroded from our conscious (explicit) memory, but they remain in our implicit memory, which is not something that can be consciously recalled, but instead from emotional or somatic triggers. Our bodies remember! Even adults hold imprints from birth.

I wish I had known this was possible when my children were young and could have explored it with them. Its a very special experience to witness. If you would like to explore your baby or childs prenatal or birth imprints please contact me to book a session.

Changes afoot

Next month it will be two years since I started Flow Cranio after graduating as a craniosacral therapist! Babies have taught me so much in this time. Each body reveals its unique patterns of experience in a session. I love being able to connect with babies through craniosacral therapy and help them to feel safe enough to express and let go of the difficult stories and tensions held in their systems.

The body is a gifted storyteller

Matthew Appleton

With this new business milestone, and due to changing personal circumstances (my partner and I are consciously uncoupling after 18 years together), I am putting my prices up slightly for new clients.

New rates from 1st July:

  • $90 initial baby/child treatment – subsequent sessions remain $70 (baby /child home visits – $100)
  • $150 mum and bub treatment
  • $100 per hour for combined lactation/cranio appts
  • Discounts available for a series of three sesssions (if prepaid)

I will continue to hold the low cost clinic monthly offering cranio by donation for babies.

Mirroring: body to body communication

“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

Mums and babies systems are inextricably linked – more so than you might think! Humans protectively constrict (or contract) the body when we experience something overwhelming. These constrictions are bound up with memories and emotions from the event. These patterns of experience are held in our bodies and interestingly, mums and their babies often share each others patterns. For example, a mother with a sore neck may actually be mirroring her baby’s neck injury (from the birth) – when it is actually the baby with the sore neck! It can also go the other way, where a baby may mirror deeply held constrictions or imprints from the mum, from a tight jaw to an ingrained habit of the nervous system. This is one of the reasons that I suggest mum gets a session during the course of treating her baby – cranio releases the constriction in mum, but also in her baby too.

Science is only just beginning to explore these concepts, there has been some research on mirror neurons, which are thought to play a key role in empathy and social behaviour and may partly explain the phenomenon of mirroring. I was taken by surprise during my cranio training, when after months of training my hands to become more sensitive to subtle motion in others bodies, I realised that I was also mirroring some of the somatic imprints of my clients in my own body – which was helpful in guiding me to areas that needed support to release. This is not necessarily a special gift of mine but one that many other sensitive humans can learn to access.

This body to body communication may be one of the ways that trauma is passed down from one generation to the next!

It is never too late to heal though. Bodywork is key in shifting long held trauma from the body. Cranio brings awareness to these constrictions through body sensations (and often emotions or memories) which are then released from the body.

Contact me for an appt if you would like to experience what cranio can do for you or your baby.

Recommended 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.

Mirroring: body to body communication

“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

Mums and babies systems are inextricably linked – more so than you might think! Humans protectively constrict (or contract) the body when we experience something overwhelming. These constrictions are bound up with memories and emotions from the event. These patterns of experience are held in our bodies and interestingly, mums and their babies often share each others patterns. For example, a mother with a sore neck may actually be mirroring her baby’s neck injury (from the birth) – when it is actually the baby with the sore neck! It can also go the other way, where a baby may mirror deeply held constrictions or imprints from the mum, from a tight jaw to an ingrained habit of the nervous system. This is one of the reasons that I suggest mum gets a session during the course of treating her baby – cranio releases the constriction in mum, but also in her baby too.

Science is only just beginning to explore these concepts, there has been some research on mirror neurons, which are thought to play a key role in empathy and social behaviour and may partly explain the phenomenon of mirroring. I was taken by surprise during my cranio training, when after months of training my hands to become more sensitive to subtle motion in others bodies, I realised that I was also mirroring some of the somatic imprints of my clients in my own body – which was helpful in guiding me to areas that needed support to release. This is not necessarily a special gift of mine but one that many other sensitive humans can learn to access.

This body to body communication may be one of the ways that trauma is passed down from one generation to the next!

It is never too late to heal though. Bodywork is key in shifting long held trauma from the body. Cranio brings awareness to these constrictions through body sensations (and often emotions or memories) which are then released from the body.

Contact me for an appt if you would like to experience what cranio can do for you or your baby.

Recommended 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.

Cranio for kids

School holidays are a good time to book your child in for a cranio treatment. Home visits are affordable and may suit those who don’t want to bring all the family to appointments.

It is a privilege to treat children, I love it as much as I love treating babies. Children are very much in tune with the rhythms of their body and during a treatment, can often feel all the shifts happening within, more so than most adults. They do have to consent to treatment, and are told that at anytime that they can speak up and stop the session, if desired – mostly, they don’t though, they can feel the benefits. By the end of the session, the nervous system feels calmer and balanced. All the energy that was holding the tensions at a subconscious level is freed up to optimise their vitality. They are then better able to self regulate their emotions.

A few things cranio may help children with:

  • head injury
  • growing pains
  • musculoskeletal issues
  • adjusting to orthodontics
  • headaches
  • birth trauma (it’s never too late to address issues from the birth)

Click here for more info and prices or go to the contact me page to book in.

Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies

In my lactation practice I am seeing more and more babies with food sensitivities (allergy and intolerances). In Australia, ten percent of babies have food allergies 1, and these numbers don’t include intolerances (non IgE mediated reactions). Unfortunately, many mothers and their uncomfortable babies are dismissed by the medical system, especially if they are gaining weight or “thriving” (not my definition of thriving!). What tends to get ignored, is the impact on both mum and baby’s wellbeing and enjoyment of breastfeeding.  

These are all signs and symptoms of food sensitivity that I have seen in babies:

  • hives
  • rash
  • nasal congestion
  • eczema
  • cradle cap
  • low weight gain
  • unusual bowel motions (excessive number of stools or mucus or blood in stools)
  • vomiting /reflux after feeding
  • excessive hiccups or gas
  • high-needs baby
  • constant sucking
  • difficulty getting baby to sleep
  • colic
  • grunting
  • attachment difficulty / shallow latch / twisting away from the breast
  • breast refusal
  • tight jaw muscles

Food allergens cause irritation to the gut lining, causing inflammation and discomfort. This can lead to babies taking smaller feeds at the breast, fussing and sometimes refusing to feed much at all, leading to low weight gain. Low weight gain can also be caused by impaired nutrient absorption in the bowels. Other babies gain lots of weight because they have an increased need to feed for comfort.

Before trialling an elimination diet, it is a good idea to see a lactation consultant (IBCLC) or someone who is experienced in this area. An IBCLC will do a full assessment ruling out other possible causes of discomfort or breastfeeding problems (eg. lactose overload, supply issues, tongue tie). A doctor can do a thorough check to rule out medical issues such as UTI, GORD etc. Bodywork can play a role. As a craniosacral therapist I can treat unresolved physical and emotional tensions in the body that may be contributing to unsettled behaviour.

After other causes have been ruled out, the first step is to trial a dairy elimination diet for 2-3 weeks. Cow’s milk protein is the most common cause of food allergy and intolerance in babies. Some mums choose to eliminate soy as well, as many babies who are sensitive to cow’s milk protein are sensitive to soy too. If babies are sensitive to dairy, mothers should see improvement after 3-4 days of starting the elimination diet. Stools may take longer to return to a normal consistency. Parents will have to carefully read ingredient lists on packets of processed foods to ensure there is no hidden dairy. Removing cow’s milk from mother’s diet often makes a significant difference. For some mothers this is an easy venture, for others (myself included) it was near impossible. Accidental slip-ups can happen and often there are other foods causing reactions. In these cases I refer mums to a dietitian experienced with helping breastfeeding families. Mothers who need to continue any long-term elimination diet, including dairy-free, should also have their diet checked by a dietitian.

Other factors to keep in mind that can negatively impact bowel function in babies include maternal or infant antibiotics, and the oral rotavirus vaccine (that babies receive at 2 & 4 months). Discuss these medical treatments with your doctor if you have a food sensitive baby. Exclusively breastfed babies are protected from rotavirus through breastfeeding and the vaccine is non-compulsory.

As a mother of a breastfed baby who was sensitive to cow’s milk protein I know the impact food sensitivities can have on breastfeeding, emotional wellbeing and sleep. Parents may be tempted to switch to formula, but breastmilk is still the milk of choice for these babies, providing good bacteria (probiotics), a large range of prebiotics to develop a healthy microbiome, many protective factors, stem cells and gentle exposure to other potential allergens. Most formula is derived from cow’s milk protein, though there are specialised formulas for babies allergic to cow’s milk protein. These are often expensive and taste terrible. There may also be the temptation to enrol in sleep school or hire a sleep consultant, though food sensitive babies do tend to fail sleep school! As it doesn’t help to remove the cause of the baby’s distress.

It is a difficult road caring for, and breastfeeding these babies. There is a lot of self-doubt (feeling you are getting parenting or breastfeeding wrong) and an overriding feeling of helplessness. Parents need support and empathy, not to be dismissed or given advice to space feeds or switch to formula.

Here’s my tips to get through the day with a food sensitive baby:

  1. Keep on boobing!
  2. Don’t worry about routines, forming bad habits, or feeding too much.
  3. Do what ever is easiest for you in each moment.

Remember this too shall pass.

  1. *Article inspired by Robyn Noble’s webinar – Recognising Allergies in Breastfed Babies.  

Resources for mothers:

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 relate 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.