Interview – Osteopathy for babies, children and infertility problems (Caroline Cressens)July 2016

One professional, one path, many tips


What is osteopathy for babies and children? Is it different from osteopathy for adults?


Osteopathy is an alternative, manual medicine that works with the entire body. Rediscovered by the doctor A. T. Still 150 years ago, osteopathy’s goal is to boost the vitality and mobility of the body. Osteopathy can improve many body structures: bones, muscles, ligaments, internal organs.


There is little difference between treatments offered to babies, children and adults since a human body is always a human body, regardless of its age. However, children are much more malleable and adaptable than adults, who are denser. Their body parts are not yet all welded together. According to intra-uterine cuts and the birth experience (whether it was natural or caesarean section), the baby's structure may have been compressed, crushed or twisted. The objective is therefore to free the areas blocked by applying gentle pressure, building tension and mobilizing limbs.


The way we practice osteopathy with children is different from that with adults. We will not make a baby "crack". If, for example, we want to work on one vertebra, we will do so according to the general dynamics of the body. The child's body is used extensively to release pressure according to what it tolerates, whereas with an adult, we are able to change positions and adapt the body to our treatment. With children, it is the opposite: treatment is adapted to the child.


What purpose does this method for babies and children serve? What kind of problems can osteopathy help my child with?

Osteopathy allows for a better mobility in general, a better structure, a stronger immune system and better neuromotor development because it frees the blockages of the body that can hinder crawling and walking on all fours to get standing. Osteopathy therefore has an effect on the overall structure with respect to walking. There are also consequences on teeth and the teething process. As it helps to clear the cranial tension, teeth will be straighter and the roof of the mouth will be able to accommodate all of the teeth as they grow. We can work on the digestive system, the respiratory system, posture, etc. Our work basically aims to help a child grow with better mobility and body structures to insure his or her optimal health. I see myself as a little stake standing next to a growing tree which follows the evolution of a child’s development and offers him or her a thumb’s up when there are little setbacks or difficulties.


Can osteopathy help if my child has trouble sleeping?

Yes, osteopathy can help a child sleep better if his or her problem is not medical or neurological. In these cases, as osteopaths, we have a duty to refer the child to a physician.


First, we will study the body's balance. We will try to determine why the child has trouble sleeping; causes can vary greatly : cranial pressure, or pain in the stomach, or too much pressure on the adrenal glands which will in turn release too much adrenaline (a stimulating hormone), or just discomfort from lying on the back, etc. We will try to locate where tension is building in the body of the child and why he or she cannot relax enough to fall asleep.


When do you recommend consulting an osteopath for a child?

Ideally, we should visit an osteopath in the first weeks of life; even better if we can see an osteopath within the first hours. At that time, we can access things that are not yet fixed; the baby is still very flexible. The aim is to remove small grains that are trapped in the mechanism rather than letting it run and wait until a symptom occurs. Once the symptom is there, we have to deconstruct. We need to ensure that the small disturbances which are present and yet do not disturb the baby do not, in time, cause, for example, a flattened head or other problems within different systems.


All changes of the body require that we work on them. Whether it is teething, vaccination, medication, the arrival of a new baby, separation anxiety, various shocks will impact on the structure and will be absorbed smoothly or less smoothly by the child. Some children won’t feel much difference. For others, it will require much more work as they will become peevish and can experience regression. In these cases, we are here to help them by making sure they have good balance to get out on the right foot.


What is the average frequency of osteopathy sessions with an infant or a child?

The frequency will depend on the needs and causes of the child’s visits. In most cases, I recommend seeing the child three weeks to a month later.

However, some children’s systems are so tired that I'll need to see them more frequently. This is also the case if they are in a deadlock within their neuromotor development (e.g. not rolling over from belly to back, dragging themselves on the buttocks) or if I want to make sure that what I worked on during a treatment will be consolidated so that the child is able to move on to the following step. For example, if a child comes to me after suffering from an earache, I can see him or her three days later to help the body fight off inflammation.


What is a typical appointment for a baby or a child like?

The first appointment always begins with a medical questionnaire. It allows us to ensure that the child can be treated by us and doesn’t need to be referred to a doctor.


Then, we will go through a basic questionnaire: name, address, etc.

In turn, we will talk about:

- The reasons why the child is there to see an osteopath?

- How were pregnancy and childbirth? What kind of delivery? Were forceps or vacuum extraction used? Was the child born through C-section? If so, why?

- Systems review: digestive, sleep, breathing, etc.

- Neuromotor system: we want to make sure that the child has a normal neurological development for his or her age. If there is anything that alerts us, the child will be directed to a doctor to make sure that there are no underlying elements.


Then, in observing the child, we make one overall assessment of his or her posture, eyes, face, head and possible distortions, body positions, the presence of marks on the skin, etc. We want to see how the child interacts with us, what kind of attitude he or she adopts to see how we can approach him or her. Some children are more apprehensive than others and we must respect this apprehension.

Finally, we will start the treatment according to our findings and depending on how the child reacts on that day.

You also treat women who have infertility problems. How can osteopathy help them?

Osteopathy can help these women as it can any person who comes to see us. We always start from the same principles: we want to boost the vitality and mobility of the body. We want to help the body find a balance that will allow for adjustments. Specifically, in the case of infertility disorders, we will ensure that the nest (the womb) is well positioned (for ease of implantation), solid, innervated, vascularized, that there is good body oxygenation and that skeletal structures, ligaments and muscles are optimal to support the pregnancy as it is a big change in the life and the body of a woman.


What training have you had to follow to offer osteopathy treatments to babies and children? Is there a special training to treat children? For infertility problems?

Firstly, I attended medical school, then studied osteopathy for two years in Lyon, France. After a trip to Quebec, I fell in love with this province. So, I came here to finish my course at Collège d’Études Ostéopathiques de Montréal. I filed a master’s thesis in osteopathy on the transmission of lesions between mother and child. During these studies, we receive basic pediatric training which focuses on the neuromotor development of children, the diseases that can be found, observation methods, treatment options and the many techniques to apply with children. In parallel, I also spent several days with disabled children from a Foundation which is paired with the Collège, as well as with osteopaths working with children. It allowed me to practice and train over the five years of my studies. After that, I chose to specialize and followed various trainings with different high-profile pediatric osteopaths here in Quebec and abroad.


As for infertility, at first, I read. Then, I took courses. One day, a woman asked me if I could do something to help her get pregnant. I did a first treatment to clear her structure and to restart the system, and she became pregnant just after. Then, through word-of-mouth, I built a clientele in this area of expertise because osteopathy has very good results.


How did you decide to practice osteopathy?

I always wanted to help people. Osteopathy was therefore an obvious choice. I was within the first promotions of students graduating from full time osteopathy schools in France. Immediately, I was hooked because I like to help and touch people and I love the alternative medicine approach that is global and gentle.


What do you like from your practice?

I love working with toddlers. Ever since I was young, I have always been surrounded by toddlers. I worked in day camps, summer camps, etc.


I also like to make a difference in the future health of adults. I know that if I work with a child on a regular basis, he or she will be sick less often because when there is something lingering in the system, we help it get over it. I have experienced this with my children and with several patients throughout my 18 years of practice. Also, treating a baby can have a positive impact on the whole family.


For more information on osteopathy for your child or for an infertility problem, visit:

Caroline CRESSENS’ website:


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