We posted much of this earlier this year, but we’ve been getting lots of phone calls for CranioSacral Therapy for pregnancy and postpartum. Marissa has been using this gentle, non-invasive therapy for quite some time to support moms, particularly so many who are going the Hynobirthing route. She can do a full session of CST or incorporate it into a regular massage session. Ask her for more details if you have questions!
What is CranioSacral Therapy
In order to understand CranioSacral Therapy, a brief overview of the craniosacral system must be given. This system is the oldest, deepest and most primitive system in the body. It consists of the bones of the head, spine, and sacrum, as well as the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which protect and nourish the brain and central nervous system.
The craniosacral (CS) system has a unique rhythm, just as the heart has its own beat and our breath, its own rate. This rhythm communicates with our fascia – the sheets of connective tissue that cover every internal aspect of the human body, its organs and tissues. Therefore, when one part is stuck, or out of balance, it affects the whole. The flow within the CS system can become restricted by trauma to the body. This trauma may be emotional or physical in nature.
Think of the CS system like a garden hose. If the hose becomes kinked due to an obstruction or something having fallen on it, then the water within that hose does not flow as freely. The garden then doesn’t get nourished as optimally and certain plants may be poorly affected. And so it is with the body. If the CSF is unable to flow freely along the system, then the body is hindered in its ability to receive proper nutrients and messages. This can then manifest as a variety of symptoms and ailments.
CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, non-invasive form of bodywork. The practitioner literally listens with her hands to the subtle rhythms of the body, detecting restrictions and imbalances held in various systems, especially the nerves, tissues and fluids. By gently working with the CS system, the restrictions of nerve passages are eased, the movement of CSF can be optimized and misaligned bones can be restored to their proper positions.
CST does not attempt to “fix” anyone. This approach recognizes that there is always health in the body and an innate capacity to reorganize toward health. Thus space is held for the awakening of the natural healing potential of the system and facilitates the release of old resistant patterns. Due to this inherent capacity for health, side effects do not arise. However, as the body shifts from states of health there may be a period of adjustment in which things are a bit unsettled. This may last for a day or two.
What to Expect
Pre- and Peri-Natal CranioSacral Therapy Can Help
Prenatal CranioSacral Therapy
When a woman is supported in finding her own rhythm, she is able to give birth with power and dignity. Pregnancy and childbirth are natural, normal functions of the woman’s body, offering up the opportunity for spiritual and emotional transformation. Throughout this journey the woman experiences dramatic changes in her body and in her relationships, both physically and emotionally.
Pregnancy brings dramatic changes in weight distribution, posture and fluid balance. The deep releasing effects of CranioSacral Therapy (CST)) helps the woman adapt to these changes, especially during the later stages as the pelvis attempts to accommodate the descending baby. The weight of the growing baby can put strain on the spine. Prenatal CST assists the pregnant woman by releasing restrictions in the pelvis, back, ribs and hips, to facilitate a supportive vessel for the birthing experience. Through gentle touch, a CranioSacral therapist can help balance the pelvis and uterus in pregnancy to ease and prevent the aforementioned, as well as ligament strain and pain and suboptimal fetal positioning. Often the pelvis is poorly aligned and the sacrum is stuck. CST encourages symmetry and free movement in these areas, allowing more ease and less potential for trauma with delivery; benefiting both mother and baby.
Touch is a vital component of a woman’s psychological, physiological and spiritual wellbeing as she adapts to the experience and demands of pregnancy and motherhood. Prenatal CST can provide a safe forum where a woman can express her fears and concerns about the transitions of motherhood, without judgment. On an emotional and spiritual level, CranioSacral encourages and supports balance in the body, heart and spirit of the woman. It provides a woman with an opportunity to explore the relationship to her changing body and identity as she becomes a mother, so that she may feel “ready” for childbirth.
During labor and birth, women find profound benefit from CranioSacral Therapy through support in balancing and unwinding the pelvis, uterus and sacrum.
After birth the mother may also benefit from a short course of treatment to aid in recovery from the strains of giving birth naturally or by cesarean and helping to realign the body. Often mother and child will receive treatments together, which is beneficial as they are so closely connected and involved in attachment and bonding.
Postpartum CranioSacral Therapy
“Empowerment is a process.” – Gayle Petersen
When a child is born, a mother’s needs may be forgotten. Support to integrate her experience of the birth – through celebration or emotional support – becomes important at this time, as well as supporting her physically as her body begins to shift and change once again. Childbirth is a powerful event bringing about changes in all aspects of a woman’s life – body, mind and heart. The whole family will certainly benefit when the mother and her feelings have been acknowledged, supported, and encouraged.
A postpartum CS treatment focuses on structural re-alignment of the pelvis and spine to recover strength and balance in the body. Techniques are utilized and suggestions shared that support muscles often overworked or weakened during pregnancy. Healing is further stimulated through encouraging movement of body fluids and targeting particular systems stressed during the birth experience, especially for mothers who have had caesarean births.
Postpartum CST also addresses the “new” discomforts associated with the care of a newborn infant – carrying, nursing, lifting, etc. Suggestions for proper body mechanics while performing these new activities are offered.
Women who have had a more complicated birth may experience “trauma”, as there may be feelings of loss of the “birth experience” that she had planned for herself. Processing feelings becomes an integral part of the postpartum transition. Postpartum CST helps the new mother process and integrate her birth experience in a way that is physically and emotionally healthy.
CranioSacral Therapy for Infants
The birth process provides its own challenges for the arriving baby. CranioSacral work is essential following birth, even if the birth goes smoothly. The journey through the birth canal imposes its own stressors due to the intensity of the compressions for the baby coming through the birth canal. As it pushes its way into the world, the baby’s cranium is molded, and primitive reflexes in the body are triggered and supported. When the circumstances for completion are not ideal, or if baby has to be handled on its way out, strains can be introduced, especially in the temporal areas of the head, the base of the skull, in the hip joints and pelvis.
Early treatment can help colic, postural deviation, wry neck, hip problems, sucking and swallowing difficulties, ear infections, poor sleep, breathing concerns and certain learning dysfunctions.
Resolution of trauma allows both, baby and parents, to move forward strengthened by their experience, free to enjoy life more fully. If interested in learning more about how this therapy works and benefits your baby, please contact Equilibrio Massage via email or phone.