Plagiocephaly (the complicated term for an altered head shape) is something that as Chiropractors we see a lot.
It is extremely common. It isn’t though ‘natural’ or ‘something they will grow out of’. Most parents we speak to have been told that the altered head shape has little if any, significance to their child and is really just aesthetics.
Thankfully more and more evidence is becoming available to show what we see in practice; altered head shape can have significant implications for the development of your child. What most people don’t know is that a child (like an adult) can have restricted movement between the bones that form the skull.
As the skull is basically your ‘crash helmet’ its main job is to protect the brain. It makes sense then that any altered shape in the skull and how well the skull bones move may create unnecessary stress on the brain and also the spine. When skull motion is impaired then brain and nerve function may also be affected.
A lot of the younger children we see with a ‘flat’ head have challenges with feeding, breast, and bottle. Older children can display developmental and other health challenges. Sometimes there are no symptoms other than the visual ones of an asymmetrical head. Parents naturally want to know how this occurs. The two most common reasons are birth trauma and the position and alignment of a mothers’ pelvis.
Birth trauma (especially when forceps or other instruments are used on the skull) place a significant amount of stress on the newborn’s delicate spine and skull. The newborn’s skull is designed to withstand the force of being delivered through the vaginal canal. This natural force is desirable (and in fact is essential to ensure good development of cranial nerves, to help clear the nasal passages not to mention several other essential functions). When instruments are used the stress is placed at focal points and in a way that may cause stress to the newborn’s spine and skull and therefore stress to the nerve system. Often these children will have bruises and marks where the instruments were placed. Commonly they display other signs of stress to the nerve system.
The younger a child is when we see them the easier it usually is to help make a difference. The effects can be dramatic. We always recommend (even if your child’s head shape is not altered) to have their nerve system checked as early as possible by a Chiropractor. As Chiropractor’s our aim and focus is to help and encourage optimal nerve system function of your child. Chiropractic Care for your child is extremely SAFE, natural and effective. We’ve checked and cared for babies who are only a few hours old. The pressure you would use to hold a very ripe tomato or the pressure you put on your eyeball (comfortably!!) is the only pressure needed when helping babies! It is that gentle and it works!
Optimal Positioning Pre-Birth
The good alignment of a mothers’ pelvis is also essential in the optimal position of the baby as well as optimal nerve system input to the baby and for the mother. A Chiropractor who is Webster trained and certified (and therefore registered with the International Chiropractic Paediatric Association) will be able to work with the mother to help work towards this optimal positioning and nerve system function ensuring the best possible outcome for her and her baby.
As the baby grows good pelvic alignment will ensure that the baby has the best possibility of being in the position that is ideal for itself. It will help ensure there is no restriction in the ‘space’ for the baby allowing the baby the opportunity to grow without limitations (think of a hot air balloon and having one side with the ropes shorter than the other side…it won’t fly well!!). Not only does this make for more comfort for the Mum but also means that the stressors that could result in an altered had shape, not to mention other nerve stress, are minimised too.
This is one of the main reasons we are passionate about seeing pregnant women in our practice. We believe that if pregnant ladies were checked and then had Chiropractic Pregnancy Care if necessary, their babies would have the best opportunity for optimal positioning. We already know that Mums under chiropractic care have a reduced birthing time and a better recovery rate after birth the optimal baby position contributes to this.
So why wait? If you are pregnant or have a baby and would like to see if we can help you or them be the best you (and they) can be we’d love to see you.