Sleep…that much loved and much longed for necessity and pleasure has been missing from my life for almost 10 months now. My social media posts have alluded to my lack of sleep but isn’t that the same for all parents of small children? I know that I got super lucky first time round with Elsa, having a baby who slept for 13 hours from 10 weeks and had a 3 hour nap on an afternoon. I guess I didn’t expect to fall so lucky twice but I was also not prepared for the shock of a baby who doesn’t sleep.
After more than 8 months of not sleeping more than 3 hours at a time I reached breaking point. I felt unsafe to drive, I was falling asleep mid-conversation and, most upsettingly, I was snappy and short with Elsa through no fault of her own.
Something which kept cropping up during my middle of the night sessions googling ‘Why doesn’t my baby sleep?’ was the subject of cranial osteopathy. I do not know anyone who has taken their child to see a cranial osteopath but at this point I had nothing to lose other than my sanity (that may already have gone to be honest).
Our first session began with a detailed consultation about my pregnancy and the birth, Ted’s sleeping patterns and his general health. It was very interesting and our Osteopath made a lot of observations which made a lot of sense. After listening to our birth story she advised that babies who are born quickly, as Ted was, often do not have time to stretch out their necks as they should and may suffer from compression and tension in the head and neck.
The consultation was followed by her examining him and carrying out what appeared to be the gentlest sports massage ever. On the most part Ted absolutely loved this. She advised that she had found three points of tension, the first being in the centre of his back which she believe was his ongoing bronchiolitis. The second area was slight tension in his shoulder which was a relatively new point of tension. The third and final area of tension was at the based of his skull / top of his spine, which she believed was due to the fast nature of his birth. Interestingly enough, when she touched this area he cried and was clearly in discomfort whereas he had previously been chilled out and even leaning into his massage. She also thought that this has been the root cause of his (mild) Plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome as he has had difficulty and pain turning his head to the left.
The Osteopath recommended three sessions to relieve this tension and hopefully sort out the sleep issues.
I had expected that Ted would sleep straight after that first session but I was wrong. He was wide awake all the way home and for the whole afternoon. But he did sleep for 7 hours that night (and 3 subsequent nights) which was the longest period of time he had ever gone.
Ted’s sleep did deteriorate again for a couple of nights before the second session but then followed the same pattern again in the run up to the third session. We went along for the third session a couple of days before Christmas. Upon examining him the Osteopath said that she was not going to treat him as she could no longer feel the tension in the back of his head.
So has the Osteopathy improved anything? Well, I am still exhausted. I am still drinking gallons of tea to get enough caffeine to see me through the day. I am still falling asleep mid text message and sending a load of garbled nonsense to the confused person on the receiving end.
The boy is still not a brilliant sleeper. We have seen slight improvement in his night time sleep now, consistently sleeps for 7 hours so I can now get a reasonable block of sleep in. However, day time sleeping is still a disaster. He will only sleep on me / in the sling or in a moving car.
But I do think the cranial osteopathy helped a little bit. He seems a bit more chilled out, he no longer cries when I pull clothes over his head or put a hat on and the sleep is improving. Maybe this would have happened anyway, we will never know but for me the it was worth the spend on two osteopathy sessions.