Expert / 17 July, 2017 / Ingvild Naestvold
We asked baby and infant chiropractic specialist Dr Ingvild Naestvold from the London Wellness Centre to suggest which therapies she recommends for a healthy and happy baby.
Throughout pregnancy and after birth, there’s a bombardment of information out there exclaiming various products or treatments designed to soothe, aid or even help grow your baby! You only have to look online or go on social media to see how vast the baby industry is.
Baby massage is a great way to build trust and promote bonding between you and your baby. Touch is a very powerful sense in newborns and this therapy is a really nice, gentle way to continue the close connection – whether you’re a mum and dad – post-birth. Massage may also assist in your baby’s growing confidence. Practitioners don’t actually practise massage on your baby, but rather equip you with the necessary knowledge for you to do it. Baby massage tends to be taught in small groups, although some therapists may offer individual sessions. Over a series of a few weeks, you will learn simple, yet effective techniques and strokes to relax your baby. Massage has a very soothing effect on your baby – parents report that it can help with issues such as digestion, sleep, gas and teething. It is also thought to aid their muscular co-ordination, posture and flexibility in preparation for crawling. By helping your baby to relax, it will promote improved sleep and could decrease the production of stress hormones. There is also some indication that for mums with post-natal depression, it could be a positive experience and assist in the connection between mother and baby.
There are a host of symptoms that babies can develop from birth onwards that chiropractors can help with. When it comes to treating infants, a chiropractor’s approach is different to that of an adult. They do not ‘crack’ joints in babies. A chiropractor will do a thorough health check prior to any treatment. By assessing your baby’s range of motion, Chiropractors use a gentle pulse to relax and mobilise muscles. Infants tend to respond immensely quickly. The pressure is incredibly light; akin to touching an eyeball. This is due to the fact that a baby’s spine has not fused yet. Birth – especially a natural one – can be traumatic for your child, hence why it is invaluable to get your baby checked by a musculoskeletal expert. Chiropractic care can also drastically improve the ease of breastfeeding, if you notice your baby doesn’t latch on easily. Parents tend to see an almost immediate improvement in their baby’s alertness, digestion, sleeping patterns and overall calmness.
Whether you breastfeed or use a bottle, taking your baby to see a nutritional therapist can give them the best digestive start in life. When babies are weaned, a range of symptoms can appear. These tend to improve with the help of tailored nutrition. Laurie Richards, Nutritional Therapist at London Wellness shares her advice on why nutrition is so beneficial for young ones. A baby’s digestion does not mature until 6 months of age, and they are more prone to digestive upsets in the first three months of life. This is why it’s important to populate their digestive system with probiotics. Some cultures will give fermented drinks to their kids from as early as 3 months old! Nutritionists can test your baby for food intolerance’s; and if necessary carry out a stool analysis to check their stomach bacteria. The gut is sterile at birth but rapidly becomes colonised by many species of microorganisms. The process of colonisation can be affected by a myriad of things, such as the mother’s bacterial balance, her use of probiotics, the type of birth (natural or surgical), primary source of nutrition (breast or bottle), general health and the stress of both mum and baby during pregnancy. Babies who do not develop a healthy inner ecosystem, can have a weakened immunity. They are also more vulnerable to allergies and issues. Giving your baby beneficial bacteria soon after birth can ensure proper colonisation of healthy microflora in their intestines, and prevent common food allergies. Early nutritional deficits are also linked to long-term impairment in growth and health, so it’s important to make sure that the digestive system is in a good state, so that your baby can absorb all the required nutrients from breast milk or formula.
Unlike chiropractic, which deals with your central nervous system, osteopathy is based on the principle that the wellbeing of an individual is based on a person’s muscles, ligaments and connective tissue functioning in harmony together. When it comes to treating your baby, both treatments are similar – both are musculoskeletal experts, and aim to get your baby out of discomfort whilst improving your baby’s functional movement. However, a common branch of this therapy, which is popular amongst parents, is craniosacral therapy/osteopathy. As the name suggests, it focuses on the head. It is especially effective for babies who have experience a traumatic birth. As a gentle, hands-on treatment, it encourages the release of stresses and tensions in the skull; returning the bones to their optimal arrangement. Like chiropractic, it can assist in many common symptoms found in newborns and young infants.
Look After Number Mum!
It is the age old adage – you can’t look after anyone else until you look after yourself! Taking time to unwind, relax and distress is imperative as a mum, dad or guardian. You need time to recharge. What your mind or body needs will vary from person to person, but try and create a regular self-care routine for yourself. This isn’t to add more pressure to you as a parent, but merely this is aimed to give you a much needed respite from parenthood. You could catch up on sleep, having a relaxing bath, read, cooking nutritious meals (batch cooking works wonders for busy parents!) or simply having a regular weekly hour for you to attend the gym or a Pilates class. This will help you socialise with like-minded people and feel independent. Do not understand the importance of taking non-baby time for you and your partner.
Parents are fortunate that many therapies have been tried and tested worldwide. Please do your research – ask your friends, midwife or NCT group about their therapy experiences. What worked for their infants? What didn’t? If there is a treatment you think would be good for your baby – or even you – ask to speak to a practitioner if you have any queries or concerns. They should be more than happy to speak to you and answer any questions.
This is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Your baby is precious and unique, but the above therapies have shown time and time again that they can have a huge improvement to common issues seen in newborns and young infants.
Find out more at London Wellness Centre.