Forceps and your baby

October 4, 2013

Imagine doing a headstand for several hours and then every couple of minutes someone (a friend maybe?) pushes on your feet, driving your head down harder in to the floor. Okay, this isn’t quite the same as your baby being born but in cases where the baby is in an improper position or if mid-labour the contractions weaken, you might be able to imagine the amount of compression possibly going through your baby’s head and spine.

The bones of your baby’s skull are designed to overlap during the birth and sometimes there may be a bit of swelling producing a funny shape. It’s often the bit that is delivered first which has the odd shape so in a face presentation expect it to be the face, in a breech expect it to be in the feet or bottom. The shape of the baby ‘s head after birth can tell you a lot about how it might have been lying and where it might have been squashed so having an early photograph can be very helpful if you are seeing an osteopath.

For generations women have been giving birth to babies quite happily without the need for Cranial Osteopathy, so why do we need it now?

When forceps are used, it is possible that they are fixed around the temples of your baby. Beneath the temples in the brain is where hearing is processed and the Eustachian / pharyngo-timpanic tube which drains the ear is also in this area. When the forceps are applied they may then be twisted to help rotate the baby out. It is possible that these underlying structures could also be twisted impacting the draining of the ear leading to a painful condition known as Glue Ear.

The shape of your face isn’t just down to genetics. Actions such as suckling, swallowing, chewing, nose breathing and speaking all impact the shape of these facial bones as they mould through early life. The body is a clever piece of machinery which changes shape to suit the job it’s being asked of so if your child is a mouth breather, this might impact the bones in the nose (as they’re not being used as intended) possibly leading to sinus problems.

Cranial osteopathy encourages the release of tension and stresses throughout the body that might have been caused by the birth. Your osteopath will hold and observe the baby, carefully manipulating the body using gentle techniques to encourage it to function as it should.

For more information about osteopathy or to find out how it might benefit you or your child, please contact

Felicity Bertin is a registered Osteopath with post-graduate training in Cranial, Obstetric and Paediatric Osteopathy. She lectures in Embrology, Developmental Biology and Neuro-Musculo-Skeletal Medicine on the Masters in Osteopathy course at the British School of Osteopathy. She specialises in working with children with feeding difficulties and supports a team of lactation consultants and tongue-tie practitioners with “bodywork”, offering a biomechanical approach to breastfeeding difficulties. She has co-authored two books on children’s eating and works closely with a psychological therapist to give support to these families. She can be contacted at osteopathy@


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