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Monday, April 7, 2014

Craniosacral Therapy To Help Pregnant Women and Newborns

In a 2008 issue of Midwifery Today, the many benefits of CranioSacral Therapy to pregnant women and their newborn infants is discussed. The article I am referring to can be found here
CranioSacral Therapy administered during pregnancy can help to ease restrictions in the woman’s body that might hamper her ability for an optimal birthing experience. By healing the restrictions, especially those in the pelvis and hips, the birth can take place more easily in many cases. The relieving of these restrictions can also help to facilitate the mother infant bonding experience, which is critical to the infant’s health and well-being. CranioSacral Therapy can also help to promote the proper fetal positioning, and can be especially helpful if the baby is presenting posteriorly.

One of the most common complaints of pregnancy, low back pain, can also be alleviated by CranioSacral Therapy, as can ligament pain. Ligament pain often occurs in pregnancy because of the loosening of all of the joints in the body due to the hormone newly secreted, relaxin. This causes pain because one must still walk and do all other activities, albeit with less properly tense joints. Even though CranioSacral Therapy works through a very light touch, it is surprisingly effective. Many case studies over the years have shown dramatic improvements in a variety of conditions, even those that have no medical treatment, and no known cause.

The ideal time for the application of CranioSacral Therapy for a pregnant woman is during the actual phases of labor. This is why midwives and doulas that are certified in this therapy can be invaluable to a woman while she is giving birth. They can help to unwind the pelvis, sacrum, and uterus, and when this is occurring during the birth process, the effects can be profound. Each time the pelvis goes out of alignment during labor, the skilled therapist can help to bring it back into balance.

In the postpartum period, this article discusses the great benefit to the mother of this therapy. It assists with musculoskeletal reintegration, emotional balance, and pelvic health, along with helping to alleviate the stresses on the mother’s body of newborn infant care.
With regard to babies and children, CranioSacral Therapy can help with general health, as well as to eliminate the lasting effects of birth trauma. When a baby has had a natural childbirth, intense forces have acted on the cranium and body during the passage through the birth canal. These forces can create lasting problems for the infant, which CranioSacral Therapy works to correct. Another issue that newborns can have which this therapy has shown effectiveness for is the ability to properly nurse. This therapy can help with the sucking reflex and latching.

In addition to the reasons stated above, there are many other benefits that CranioSacral Therapy has on newborns, children, as well as adults and pregnant women. The author has offered numerous resources for midwives and doulas, as well as other health care practitioners, to learn more about, and become certified in, CranioSacral Therapy. I believe, as she seems to, that all providers of maternal and pre-maternal care can offer greater benefits to their patients through training in CranioSacral Therapy. It is a very useful and helpful modality for all women, and especially to pregnant women.

Depressed Pregnant Women and Massage Therapy: Positive Outcomes For Mother and Infant

Two studies will be discussed in this article. The first study relates to the administration of massage therapy on depressed pregnant women, and their subsequent reduction of depression symptoms. The second study discusses the effect of depression during and after pregnancy on their newborn child.

The first study was performed by Tiffany Field and associates, of the Touch Research Institute in Miami, and was titled, Massage therapy effects on depressed pregnant women. The second study was also performed by Tiffany Field and associates, and was titled Depressed mothers' infants are less responsive to faces and voices. The second study was a review of the studies previously performed by Touch Research Institute.

In the second study, newborn babies were evaluated using several different scales for their responsiveness to faces and voices of caregivers. They orient less readily to the sounds of voices, and also to the crying of other infant around them. The Brazelton scale was used to evaluate their response time, and the results were compared to the standard for infant responsiveness. They also had a delayed reaction to music, such as slowing of their heart rate, and this delayed responsiveness was both in response to vocal music and instrumental music.

The infants of depressed mothers continued to show different than normal reactions to their mother’s non-smiling and non-contingent faces. A non-contingent facial expression might mean that the infant is used to seeing a mean or angry face even when they have done nothing wrong. This suggested to the study authors that the infants had become used to their mother’s irregular behavior toward them, and no longer reacted to it in a negative way. As the study participants grew older, their mothers, who had been depressed, became more authoritarian in their parenting style, as well as more angry and anxious around their children.

On a positive note, in their studies they found that these interactions could be improved by the mothers receiving pre-natal massage to help with their depression, and later they were given postnatal coaching to help them understand more normal and effective ways to interact. Both of these interventions helped the infants to have more optimal neonatal behavior, as well as having positive effects on the growing infants’ development.

The study mentioned above, Massage therapy effects on depressed pregnant women, found that after the massage therapy treatments, they had measurable differences in their depression and anxiety, as attested to by higher dopamine and serotonin levels concurrent with lowered cortisol and norepinephrine levels. In addition, their infants had better neonatal outcomes such as a reduction in the incidence of low birth weight and prematurity. The scale mentioned above also showed more favorable outcomes in the newborns whose depressed mothers received massage therapy.

The studies mentioned here conclude, and I believe rightly so, that massage therapy is an effective, non-invasive way to reduce depression in new mothers, and to improve the outcomes for newborns. These improvements also continue as the babies grow and develop past infancy and into their first few months of life. It is likely that in the future the results of studies like these will encourage midwives and obstetricians to recommend massage therapy for patients who have shown clinical signs of or who have been diagnosed with prenatal depression.