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Cranial sacral therapy (also known as craniosacral therapy) is a gentle, noninvasive form of bodywork that addresses the bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum. The goal is to release compression in those areas which alleviates stress and pain. Generally using about five grams of pressure, or about the weight of a small coin, the practitioner evaluates the body's craniosacral system. This system plays a vital role in maintaining the environment in which the central nervous system functions. It consists of the membranes and fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord as well as the attached bones-including the skull, face, and jaw, which make up the cranium, and the tailbone area, or sacrum.
Babies who seem unable or unwilling to nurse at birth and babies who are unable to nurse properly may benefit from CST. A thorough evaluation by a health care professional should be done to determine possible causes of the problem. These may include birth injuries, congenital or neurological problems, illness, or the lingering effects of drugs used before the baby's birth. The history may reveal that a baby was deeply suctioned, fed artificially (with tubes or artificial nipples), or experienced other interventions that could cause oral aversion. It is crucial to investigate all aspects of the infant's health when determining the cause of breastfeeding problems.
If none of these factors seems to be the cause of the problem, then circumstances surrounding the birth may be the cause. Even a normal birth can cause trauma to the baby's head or spine. If the birth history includes a precipitate (very fast) birth, a cesarean birth, the use of a vacuum extractor or forceps, an unusual presentation, or a baby with a large head, this may indicate that birth trauma has occurred.
These kinds of events during the birth can result in undue pressure placed upon cranial nerves, particularly those that control the mouth. The three nerves of the cranium that affect breastfeeding are the glossopharyngeal nerve (which controls the muscles of the pharynx), the vagus nerve (which controls the muscles of the soft palate), and the hypoglossal nerve (which controls the tongue muscle). Compression of any or all of these nerves can cause dysfunctional nursing. Infants with Tongue Ties/Lip Ties often can benefit from CST. Some will improve without the need to have a tongue tie/lip tie revision. Others will need a revision and will need CST after the procedure. Most will benefit from CST both pre and post revision. As always, a suspected Tongue Tie/Lip Tie should be evaluated by a pediatric dentist with extensive knowledge and training in this arena.