06 Dec 2018

Baby bodywork: working on the mother

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Today’s baby is nearly 2 months old, already pounds over birthweight, and alert and calm. Her mother brought her in for baby bodywork after a anterior tongue tie revision.

The baby looked great: no asymmetries, head turning equally in both directions, and the area below her inion (the part of the occipital bone that sticks out) nice and soft.

The mother started weeping while she described the details of the medical situation that arose during her first baby’s life: sudden vomiting, fever, admission to a NICU for every possible test before the diagnosis was made.  The mother feels guilty that she didn’t do something sooner, that she didn’t know what was wrong, and she is terrified that something similar will happen with this, her second baby. The tears flowed for the whole first part of our visit.

This baby girl has spells of fussiness, and was admitted to the hospital last month for a few days for an acute and temporary condition. Everything has resolved. Pediatric follow-ups have been easy and perfect. Breastfeeding is better now, since the revision. The baby is thriving and meeting developmental milestones.  The mother’s nipple is normal shaped when it comes out of her baby’s mouth. Things look good.

In addition to the scary medical events with each baby, the mother wept describing her labor and delivery with her last baby that included unwanted induction, epidural, pitocin, hands reaching up “way inside” her to check the baby’s position. Nothing went the way she wanted; this is another source of grief.

She is up every night, responding her baby’s every noise, describes herself as “hypervigilant” , and has spells of fearful and reoccurring thoughts. She’s never had any fun with this baby, is always too worried to enjoy anything, and can’t really sleep. She’s constantly worried, “Is my baby okay?” How can breastfeeding go well when the mother is caught in an emotional storm?

While this baby can benefit from some bodywork, my intuition led me to suggest that the mother get herself onto my massage table. So her boots came off, and several pillows were used to position her in a comfortable position, with her baby lying on her chest.  I placed my hands on her ankles, tuned in to the craniosacral rhythm, and induced several stillpoints. The baby went into a deep sleep; the mother zoned out too. I took some photographs of the beautiful baby for the mother to look at whenever she doubts that her baby is okay.

Once they both awoke, the mother and I made a care plan for them that includes ways of increasing the amount of TummyTime!, ways for the mother to get some time for herself (going for a run three times a week and taking a nap with the baby at least once a day when the older child is in school), and ways for them to have fun together, including remedial co-bathing and baby-wearing during walks outside.

The mother left, much more relaxed than when she arrived. We will see each other again, and stay in touch via email.

Sometimes the way to do baby bodywork is by working on the mother.





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