A baby’s skull is made up of five main bones joined by fibrous sutures which allow movement & facilitate growth and brain development. This movement gives a baby’s head the incredible ability to withstand, and adapt to, the extreme pressure and stresses of labour as baby descends through the birth canal. It’s not unusual for a newborn to be born with an asymmetrical head shape also known as Plagiocephaly. This normally resolves within the first few days as baby develops their sucking reflex, yawns and cries but sometimes, especially after a long labour, this asymmetry can persist.
Head shape asymmetries can also develop after birth as the baby’s head bones remain soft and malleable. Moulding of these bones can occur if a baby is constantly in one position - normally on their back as newborns can sleep for up to 17 hours a day. To avoid this moulding process it’s important to make sure baby is having “Tummy Time” during their waking hours.
Plagiocephaly is a common condition we see in newborns and it’s not normally a cause for concern, in some cultures a flattened back of the head is even considered to be a sign of good luck. Occasionally these asymmetries can lead to tensions within the skull, neck and jaw causing difficulties with feeding and baby being unsettled. Some babies may find it difficult to lay on their back, have their head touched or find it uncomfortable to wear a hat or have clothes put on over their head.
Osteopathy can help to address these concerns, Paediatric Osteopaths are trained to assess these patterns of strain and tension and use gentle techniques to release them.
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