True healings from Craniosacral therapy
Craniosacral therapy sits on the fringe of alternative healthcare and alludes most people. Because it is an “energetic” healing modality, most people lack understanding of what it is and how it is a form of treatment of the autonomic nervous system, and ultimately every system in the body. In order to provide more clarity to people seeking help, I want to share true stories of how the therapy works, what it looks and feels like, who can receive the most impact from this type of care, and what clients have reported after receiving treatment. Every story is different and unique to the individual, but every account you will read is based on truth and the power of transformation.
How a new mother healed
Hearing the Birth Story
It was early spring, and I received a phone call from a new mother. She had given birth only a month prior to reaching out. She was quite emotional. Her baby was struggling to breastfeed, and she had seen a number of providers. Her pediatrician insisted her baby was fine, but that not all babies breastfeed or latch with success. She saw a lactation consultant who suggested her babe had a tongue-tie and was unable to transfer milk properly due to restriction of tongue movement. She had resorted to Facebook to gain insight on how other mothers were handling tongue-ties. She explained that surgery was truly a last resort for her, she wanted to avoid it at all costs. The baby and her had gone through a very long labor, and she had to have an epidural that didn’t take well. Ultimately, the baby was delivered by a vacuum. Since the birth, neither her nor the baby had slept very consistently. Wrought with anxiety, fear, exhaustion, and despair, she had read the words craniosacral therapy, in a group forum from a mother who said it worked with her child. So, she googled “craniosacral therapy near me” and Voila! My name appeared, so she took a leap of faith.
I spoke to her for about an hour, just listening to her birth story, and stories of her pregnancy. Like most mothers these days, she had very little time, she was a busy woman, and this was her first child. She never gave much thought to her birth plan, and she didn’t expect breastfeeding to be so hard. She had very little help from the hospital where she birthed, and outside of the pediatrician appointment, she had essentially no postpartum medical support.
I listened and helped her slow her pace when her story started to recapitulate her overwhelm. I gently encouraged her to take a pause, take a breath. I would probe her with more specific questions as needed, and held a container to truly listen and attune to her. I could feel her nervous system through the phone without even having to be in contact with her body or in physical proximity to her—all part of the process as a craniosacral therapist. After she relayed her birth story to completion, I said I could come see her the next day, and that I would drive to her home. She was relieved to know she didn’t have to pack up her baby to go out for another appointment.
I packed up my massage table, my medical gloves, and off I went the next morning. When I arrived, I was greeted by her whole family, her mother and husband, grandpa too. I could feel the sense of anxiety riding in the air, the troops had been called in to help this mother and her babe. The anticipation for some sort of settling lay thick in the air. Of course, I realized the babe was very keen to all these emotional sensations riding through his parents and their surround.
The very first thing I did after introductions was greet the little fellow. I said, “Do you know why I am here? Mommy called me and she needs some help. She says you and her aren’t sleeping so well, and you aren’t able to feed with comfort or ease. So, I am here to hear your story. Is that ok with you?” I paused. Acknowledgement of the baby is a crucial step with mother-baby DYADs. Very few people realize that babies are fully conscious, sentient beings. Yes, their nervous system and body has leap years of growth and development ahead, but they can sense everything around them. I let my eyes soften into their sockets. I intentionally settled my being, touching in with my sacrum, my root chakra, feeling my feet sturdy on the floor. I traced my spine up the vertical axis and moved my mind’s eye to my crown chakra. I noticed my front, my back, my sides and my insides. I started to track my own craniosacral rhythm—a skill you can use to follow the movement of your cerebrospinal fluid, a term used in our industry as primary respiration. The whole point is to slow down my nervous system and enter in a state of dynamic homeostasis—alert, aware, while calm and relaxed—a state of neutrality. All babies have nervous systems that are underdeveloped compared to an adult. They process their worlds much slower than adults do, so it’s important to be cognizant of the activity in and around their space.
Functional Bowen Therapy
The babe could sense my state of being, and he began to relax. I asked his permission to do a body assessment. His throat and neck were tight, and he had restricted mobility in his arm and shoulder. I worked his fascia using Bowen Technique I had learned from Judy Terwilliger. Often, in-utero positioning and the birth itself can cause muscles to stiffen or muscular patterns to develop that restrict natural movements. I worked his mouth, jaw, neck, cranium, side body, hips, shoulders, knees while talking to him. The family began to drop into a deeper space after about 15 minutes. I talked very intentionally and at a set tone and cadence. Then I asked mom to get positioned on the couch with babe in arms. I held her lumbar spine and her shoulder, while she held the babe. We sat for 10 minutes or so and I just listened and felt her rhythms in her body. I could feel heat discharging from her sacrum, and the babe was releasing heat as well. He drifted off to sleep at her breast.
After this bit of time, I asked mom to share how she had envisioned her birth for her son. I asked her to let her son know that she was scared at certain points and that it wasn’t his fault. This type of tool is called Belly Message, or Infant Coherent Narrative, a technique I learned from a prenatal and perinatal somatic therapist, Kate White. https://vimeo.com/378044960
I acknowledged to the sleeping babe that he may have been scared too, but that they had both made it. The mom really wanted to know if she should get a tongue-release for her son. She was terribly concerned, frightened, and overwhelmed. So, we made a transition in the therapy at that moment.
Polarity Therapy Two-Chair Method https://youtu.be/V_PFkmRzZYY
I had Dad come hold the babe, and I asked Mom to sit on the couch. We positioned an empty chair directly across from her. I instructed her on the Two Chair Method used by John Chitty and the principles of Polarity Therapy. I asked Mom to sit on the couch as herself, and that I would instruct her to switch from the couch to the empty chair. Once she was in the empty chair, I wanted her to imagine that she was her child. I let her know I would ask her questions and she would need to respond with the proper perspective, as her child in the chair, and as herself on the couch. And so, it begun.
She sat as mom on the couch, and I proceeded to ask her, “What is troubling you most right now about your son?”
She replied, “I don’t know why he can’t breastfeed and if I should go forth with a frenectomy procedure.”
I said, “Switch.” She transitioned to the chair, and I gave her a moment.
I prompted her that she was now her son, and I asked her to feel her seat, feel her body, and just breathe. Then I asked her, “What would you like to tell your mom?”
She thought for a moment and replied, “I want my mom to know that she already knows what is best for me.” I told her to switch.
She shifted and settled on the couch, I asked her to repeat the sequence of feeling her feet, noticing her seat on the couch, feeling her back, and to just breathe. I then said, “What do you notice in your body when you hear, ‘I want my mom to know that she already knows what is best for me’? She sighed. Tears welled up into her eyes. She said, “I just didn’t realize birth would be so hard for me and him, and breastfeeding has been so hard, and I keep spinning in my head all of these questions, but when I hear this, I feel a deep settling. I feel my body. I feel my chest relax, and heat spreads from my heart into my shoulders.”
I ask, “What happens next when you feel this settling in your body?”
She says, “I can feel the truth for my son and me. I do not think he needs a tongue-tie procedure.”
Craniosacral Therapy with Three Layers of Support
I ask for Dad to come sit next to Mom. All three of them cozy up on the couch. I have Mom lean back into Dad’s arms with her whole body laid up on the couch. Dad cradles Mom and babe. I sit and ground myself, and we just sit in silence as I start to track their “tides”, the primary respiration movement I referred to earlier. Baby is at the center while Mom holds baby, and Dad holds Mom, and I hold the three of them. After a few minutes, it is as if time stands still. The room opens up into a large, open space. The air seems lighter, and the room seems brighter as the three of them float into a plane of Peace. Their bodies release the emotional overwhelm through heat and quivering in the fluid field and muscle tissue. They come to rest in a regulated, parasympathetic state in their nervous system. Their heart beats fall into resonance and an emergent quality of synchronicity shapes the quantum field all around us. Babe sleeps on.
I wrap up the session and ask them to take a few moments to look around the room, making eye contact with different objects. I go over body stretches for them to do on a regular basis with their son for the next few weeks to help loosen up his muscles and increase the mobility of his jaw and tongue. We set up our next appointment for the following week. I go on my way.
The mom texted me the following day that their son slept through the night with just two feedings, and he fed at the breast. She sounded empowered with a sense of knowing.
I realize this was a simple story, but one that is often repeated for newborns. I often deal with much more complicated stories, but ultimately, most all mothers go through this transitional time. Mom and babe just need someone to really hear their stories, help them pace their nervous system, hold them in a container of love and support, help them integrate moments of overwhelm during their birth story, work out trigger points in the muscles, help the cranial bones align properly, and help the mother trust her instincts. Mothers always know what is right, if they just take the time to pause, breathe, and tap into their inner selves. Craniosacral therapy is a gentle form of treatment that allows for all of these natural processes to take place.