Craniosacral Therapy for Newborns

Healing & Meditation

Nirmoha describes the unique way of welcoming babies into this world by helping them with craniosacral work

In the Biodynamic approach of Craniosacral Therapy the client is gifted with one of the rarest things in the world today: a communion with stillness.

Working at a birthing clinic in Bali has inspired me to delve deeper into the mysteries of the biodynamic craniosacral work. The biodynamic approach works with the body’s inherent Intelligence which facilitates itself through a practitioner who listens intently to the way a system reveals itself.  An underlying primary breath, known as the Primary Respiration, “breathes” its way through the fluids and tissues seeking resolution of the inertia that is presented. When this is witnessed by a trained practitioner, a reorganization towards an optimal sense of well-being takes place.

Newborn baby's umbilical cord being burned off
Newborn baby's umbilical cord being burned off

My main clients at the clinic are newborns. I am humbled by the bundles of intelligence that arrive into my hands as I treat them. They are like empty canvases relatively untouched by the conditions that life’s experiences endow upon each and every one of us. We might think their experiences are minimal, yet from a microcosmic perspective they are multitude when we consider what transpires during the period from conception through to birth. Endless mutations occur as the conceptus transforms from an embryo into a fetus, and the state of the mother, her health, diet, and connection with the unborn can greatly influence the state in which the baby will be in when it comes out. The fetus picks up on everything as it grows inside, and it is aware of the conditions of the environment outside; and depending on whether it’s a loving space or a war zone, survival strategies are already being laid down. And then there is the actual birth process, which can be traumatic no matter how easy or supportive it was.

When a newborn arrives in my hands the umbilicus is often still attached to the placenta. Some of them are present enough to make eye contact with me whereas others appear to be so disorientated that they cannot make head or tail of where they are. One baby who I recently worked with was incredibly wide eyed and present and his little system showed minimal signs of the birth experience having been a traumatic one. There didn’t seem to be any holding patterns in his little body and other than a subtle lengthening that came through his spine, his many smiles told the story of his transition having been a relatively easy one. But for many others, it is not like this and the trauma of being born can be quite noticeable.

One little newborn appeared to be very discombobulated and it was clear he had not yet bonded with his mother. He was born only some hours earlier and cried nearly nonstop since he came out. His mother was disconcerted by the lack of connection between them. It was her first born and she appeared to be a very loving person and yet a bonding had not taken place. Something was upsetting him terribly, and even the midwives felt at a loss as to what to do. He would get so exhausted from crying that moments of silence prevailed but soon after he started up again. Everyone just wanted him to stop crying. So many interpretations were there as to what was wrong with him. He had a lot to say yet no one was capable of listening to him.

It is interesting to see that whenever a baby cries the mother’s breast is usually the first thing it is given. For many it might be what is being asked for, yet not always. This baby would not take the breast so it was clear a different approach was needed here. Luckily the room cleared out and I could stay with mother and baby without being interrupted. The shock of being here was obviously great. The transition from womb to world happened too fast, and when he came out it took more than a minute for him to take his first breath. And yet no one seemed concerned about this. Everyone was more concerned about their needs of wanting him to stop crying.

It amazes me to see how the conditioning process starts as soon as we arrive here. The mother’s distress was being picked up by her baby, which in turn was only creating more stress for him. I included the mother in my awareness as I began working with the baby, and simultaneously tracked the down regulation process of their nervous systems. The baby’s eyes wandered aimlessly all over the room in a vacant manner so I placed my hand over his solar plexus and could feel how overwhelmed his little nervous system was. After signs of shock dissipated, he started to tell me the story of his actual birth process by reenacting it all out.

There was a lot of tension in the head and neck relationship, and after some time his head rotated to the right in an exaggerated manner and stayed in that position for some time before it released and was free to rotated back to the middle again. He cried out excruciatingly at all the places it was painful for him, and I listened without interrupting him. I made a lot of verbal contact with him letting him know that I was aware of what it must have been like for him as he continued to express the difficulties of his experience. I also informed him of every move I made, when I changed my contact and where I would place my hands next.

He had a lot to say, and all he wanted was to be heard. He was incredibly sensitive to my touch so it was easy to recognize what his needs were. He took my little finger with his tiny little hand and gave me permission to work intraorally, until he decided it was enough. He required a lot more time than is usually needed when treating a baby, and as I sensed we were coming to completion, I prepared to disengage my contact from him. He cried out again indicating he wasn’t quite ready yet for me to disengage. Once reenacting the movements of the final stage of birth he indicated he was finished. He cried as if he had been born again. And he was. I then laid him on his mother’s belly and waited until he made his own way to the breast and once he latched on, the whole energy in the room shifted into one of relief for all of us. He had arrived. It was an amazing process to witness. How empowering it is when we are being heard, without being interrupted or interfered with in any way?

This doesn’t really explain much about what craniosacral biodynamics is though, or does it? It is a non- invasive method and if I had to describe it in one word, I would say the key is to ‘listen’. And unless one is present one cannot hear what needs to be heard. And what is being listened to is the expression of the inherent Intelligence that ALWAYS orients towards Health. It is Intelligence in action always looking to realign to health in the most optimal way possible. Who knows what dysfunctions might have shown up decades later from the experience of this little one’s birth. It doesn’t matter. What does is that he managed to cry out loudly enough to get my attention and in that I was able to hear what he had to say.

Listening to another without interfering in any way can, and is, so profoundly healing. Craniosacral is all about that, and yet I would like to conclude here by adding that a level of knowledge is required to know what one is listening to, and so a solid training is needed for a practitioner to recognize what is being revealed.  It’s not a language made up of words, but one of feelings and sensations, expressed through many levels of perception that can often be accompanied by images and revelations.

Please click here for more information about craniosacral biodynamics on my website

There you will also find a description that differentiates the biodynamic approach from other craniosacral methods, which I find is a far more profound way of working. The focus is never the problem, but on the Health that moves through it. In the accompanying photo here, I had just finished treating this little girl when the midwife came in to burn the cord. We sat around with mother and father while the midwife and I sang the Gayatri Mantra as the cord burned. In traditional societies this was the customary way of detaching the baby from its placenta. What this photo fails to portray is that her little hand kept trying to pull aside the cardboard that was protecting her from the flame so that she could see what was going on behind there. It was a magical sight.

Australian-born Nirmoha spent most of the 90’s in Pune enjoying all meditations and “celebrating life.” She started her training in craniosacral therapy with Bhadrena and Kavi in 2002 and is a member of the Pacific Association of Craniosacral Therapy (PACT). She now lives in Bali, working at a birthing clinic, welcoming newborns by giving them craniosacral therapy.

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