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Antenatal lactation consults

Occasionally I am asked to do an antenatal breastfeeding consult. This is a great idea for all women planning to breastfeed, but particularly for mothers having subsequent babies with a history of difficult breastfeeding issues; those that did not breastfeed for as long as they had planned. There is also a huge benefit of this personalised care for women with specific medical problems who suspect there may be supply issues, Having the right information and resources up front can help to optimise milk supply and breastfeeding success.

Forming a relationship with a lactation consultant beforehand makes it that bit easier to obtain help post-partum. Mums can be overwhelmed, exhausted and in pain and can be shocked to find out that there is not a lot of support within the system. This varies depending on place of birth or whether there is a free lactation clinic within the bounds of their locality. Child health nurses do their best but are often time poor and their breastfeeding education varies from individual to individual. Dads/ partners are often the ones to call private lactation consultants when they have reached a dead-end of support for their partners. For this reason it is often recommended that partners also attend breastfeeding education consults so they have the information and tips to provide support.

Having a basic understanding of the physiology of breastfeeding and what to expect from a breastfeeding newborn can make a huge difference to stress levels of new parents. Some private health funds do cover antenatal lactation consults. For a slightly cheaper option the Australian Breastfeeding Association does some great group classes on weekends – I used to teach these myself. Unfortunately you cannot rely on many hospital based breastfeeding classes – the information is minimal and sub par (please correct me if things have improved since I had kids).

If this sounds like it would be helpful, please get in touch to set yourself up for a smoother breastfeeding experience – $130 for 1.5hr consult.

The complexities of touch

Early experiences of rough or insensitive handling, by hospital or NICU staff after birth, can influence how physical contact is received late in life. While these memories are not usually conscious, clients with this history may dissociate or feel tense or like they want to run away or strike out when receiving touch. This patterned reaction to touch may plague the client’s intimate relationships, as well as arising in bodywork. During a cranio session, a client is assisted to become aware of their ability in present time to protect themselves, get up and leave, negotiate the contact or simply speak, which can support them in shifting their relationship to this imprint.

Frankyln Sills – Foundations in Craniosacral Biodynamic p358

Just wanted to share a passsage from one of the leaders in this field – Frankyn Sills (I have paraphrased slightly). I have seen these imprints and reactions to touch in babies, children and adults. The earlier you treat the better, so these implicit memories have less of an influence in later life. Cranio is an ideal way to redefine your relationship to touch. If you resonate with this, or feel your baby or child may have specific touch needs based on their past history – please consider booking in for a 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.

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.