The other week, I was on Instagram and saw a thread of momma's who were discussing how their babies have to fall asleep on their chest. There was a "f'real. I need some help" moment so I asked some questions:
- How were your births?
- Did your babes have a rough time at all during labor or was your labor really fast?
- Has your baby had any signs of discomfort or gas?
- Have you brought them to see a specialist like a cranio-sacral therapist?
- What are your stress levels like currently?
Many moms jumped onto this thread and offered their wisdom (This is why I love Instagram and all the momma tribes it builds. I also am mad at IG for it's ability to kick people off for breastfeeding when T&A seem to be okay, but that's another story). I was asked another question and I responded, "Residual PTSD from labor and delivery can result in all sorts of issues postpartum and you don't know when they'll show up." This goes for both mom and babe.
In 1997, one of the courses I took was on Somatic Connection and therapy. I learned the Somatic Nervous System is built up of cranial, spinal and association nerves. Trying not to get too geeky on you, basically what I learned is when there is a glitch in the Somatic Nervous System we often face physical pain. Many times there is an emotional component connected to this physical pain.
Some people show up with temporary pain and can work through it quick. Some pain is chronic and deeply internal. Events like birth can exacerbate the symptoms in your body. The questions above were all questions I would ask my Midwifery clients in the first 6 wks postpartum, but once they left my office it was often left for discussion with their pediatricians. However, when I see posts like this on IG, it makes me believe we're still missing something (as providers) in our education to you mommas.
After we get answers to the questions above, I follow up with a treatment plan. There are two things I can offer you to help you explore and improve your health via awareness of your Somatic Connection.
#1. If you or your baby have unresolvable issues in the first year postpartum, such as having to go to sleep on your chest (baby) or physical pain in the body (for you), not only do you have to do the physical healing work with a doctor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, cranio-sacral therapist or so forth BUT you have to see if there is an nervous system connection. Ask yourself any of the questions above or review them for your baby's health. If you have pain that won't go away, take a minute to "go into" the pain and ask these questions:
- How'd you get here?
- Are you emotional or physical?
- How long have you been here?
- Is the stress I'm creating making the pain worse?
You have to really dig into the pain to begin your plan of care. If this is too overwhelming to do on your own, seek professional help.
#2. Go see a Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist, Osteopath (etc...) who also practices Craniosacral Therapy and will spend time with you or your baby to help unwind the Somatic Nervous System. For babies, try to have your baby seen within the first 1-3 weeks of life (all my former Midwifery clients had their baby's seen around the same time as their first pediatric appointment). This gets all the birth kinks out of their body and will help you avoid most issues that cause discomfort. Craniosacral Therapy will help them structurally and improve their nervous system function. If you had a difficult or quick labor, get a specialist to come to your house to work on you. Make sure you have a support person to take care of your baby for that one hour you're receiving some care for your body.
**Some baby's will require Physical Therapy as a result to the way they sat in your pelvis during pregnancy. If you notice that your baby likes to hold it's head in one direction, predominantly, and if you move it and they move right back - there is likely a reason for the way they hold their body. Get some physical help to unwind their spine.
As you are getting to know my rants and raves with the way we care for moms beyond 6-weeks postpartum, tending to the Somatic Connection is one of the gentlest forms of recovery and it is one that is way overlooked. When addressed, we get back into our bodies, we avoid pain when exercising, our baby's sleep better, and we think more clearly and healthfully. That fog begins to lift.
Now, I want to hear from you. Do you have any issues laying under your tissues? If so, tell me in the comments below and if you have a question about your body specifically, ask away and let me help you out. Comment in as much detail as you'd like. You never know who's around to help you out.
As the week begins, may these words find their way into your life in whatever body that serves you best. Gratitude barely expresses the joy I feel for the community that's growing around #themotherlove. I feel an innate responsibility to you all, thank you for adding that light to my life. It's so good!
May you have a beautiful and healthy week.