One of the most challenging times for many adults is the transition to parenthood. I have been treating newborns for the over 10 years as a pediatric craniosacral therapist collaborating with pediatricians, surgeons, psychologists, lactation consultants, midwives and doulas. Most of my work has revolved around nursing and feeding challenges, digestive difficulties, sleep issues and recovery from difficult or traumatic births. During this time my role has changed from being just a practitioner to being a resource facilitator. By the time parents make it to my office, it is clear that the difficulties they are facing are completely overwhelming them as parents, couples and families.
In their sleep deprived states, new parents have a hard time understanding that the challenges they are going through are have a finite timeline, and can be managed with the help of health care professionals around them in their community. Early help from a board certified lactation consultant, a pediatric craniosacral therapist, and therapist specializing in postpartum and family counseling can have an immediate impact on reducing the new stresses of parenting. Early intervention can have a long-lasting impact on spousal relationships, bonding with baby, the health of the developing newborns, and the mental health of parents.
Here is a quick resource guide for holistic care for parents seeking support beyond the pediatricians office:
Day 3. If baby is unable to feed effectively, is causing pain breast feeding, or if you are unsure if baby is feeding, you may find immediate help from a board certified lactation specialist (IBCLC). They will be able to assess a number of factors; position while breast feeding, flow of milk, mother’s nipples (if breast feeding), baby’s structural challenges, tongue and lips (to check for possible tongue ties, or tightness in lips or jaw), how much the baby is taking in during a breast-feeding session using a highly sensitive scale, and signs of possible torticollis. They will also be able to refer you on for proper care if there is tongue tie or torticollis.
2-4 weeks. As baby starts to take in more milk, processing through the digestive system often starts to become challenged. During this time we start to see the first signs of baby’s discomfort and it can be for a number of reasons. Again, Working with an IBCLC during this time can be a great resource. I have worked with many ‘colicky’ babies, and craniosacral therapy can really help them through this process by keeping movement through their digestive systems, as well as calming their response to the discomfort they are experiencing.
By 10-12 weeks, many of the digestive challenges will have resolved. Babies should be getting into better napping and sleeping routine. Understanding sleep patterning, sometimes means understanding what a realistic feeding routine should be. Here again, a lactation consultant can be hugely helpful resource. Craniosacral therapy is also beneficial in helping educate the baby’s developing nervous system to self-soothe instead of becoming reliant on pacifiers, milk, rocking, bouncing, etc. to fall asleep.
1st year. Many mothers experience some post-partum depression symptoms during the first year, sometimes longer. The causes for this are many and varied; hormonal and physiological shifts occurring after pregnancy, breast feeding, life changes, prior mental health challenges exacerbated by changes taking place during this time, as well as new spousal and family relationship challenges. A therapist specializing in post-partum support is an essential resource for overwhelmed parents.
I believe the key to wellness for both children and parents is to have access to care and resources to help manage the challenges they might face. From holistic view, the sooner clients are resourced with help for these challenges, the speedier their recovery and return to well-being. Our communities are full of people who are here to help, and it is important to find these care providers before the baby comes in case you should find yourself in need of support.