If you are looking for a YES here I’m afraid I can’t guarantee it, but I would whole heartedly say that it is worth a shot! I am also well aware that most newborns don’t sleep much. Sometimes the lack of sleep is so all consuming that you really don’t know how you will function another day without a gazillion gallons of coffee and copious chocolate biscuits. It’s just part of the newborn stage and one which we all know, and hope, will change. But there is still a point when you start to question if there is a reason that your little bundle of joy won’t let you get one tiny bit of shut eye.
When Alice was born I was prepared for the sleep deprivation. I’d gone through it once before, and survived. For that first month I cuddled her all day long and let her sleep when she wanted to. Trying to manage that with a 19 month old as well was tricky to say the least. I actually wouldn’t have minded Alice only having small naps but what proved to be incredibly tricky was that she would only sleep on me. I don’t mean just for quick naps, I mean ALL the time. The moment I put her down she woke up. In her car seat, her bouncer, her crib. Every night I slept sitting up. I am very aware of the dangers of letting your baby sleep like this and I tried everything to not do it. However, when you’re beyond exhausted and the only way your baby will sleep is on you, you let them. And it is so hard not to fall asleep yourself.
I kept thinking to myself ‘It will all change at 12 weeks’. It didn’t. By this point Alice was quite big and I had exhausted every tip going. I’d tried swaddling her, tried sleeping her on one of my tshirts, tried putting a ticking clock by her, sleeping on her tummy, different cots, essentials oils in her room. You name it. Nothing worked. By 12 weeks I was a complete zombie and tearing my hair out. Not only was I shattered, poor Molly was suffering as I couldn’t do anything with her.
That was when I tried the physiotherapist in London who was a Cranial Osteopath. My midwife recommended I see one as she knew I was at my wit’s end. I read up a lot and also spoke to lots of friends who had taken their little ones. I began to understand a little bit about it, relieving pressure and so on. I also knew that there are certain situations where pressure can build on the baby’s head. For example, after a caesarean or a quick labour like mine. I must stress here that this is only my personal experience, not an expert opinion!
I was not expecting a miracle although was secretly hoping it would help! I wasn’t sure what I would do if it didn’t.
I got in contact with a local Cranial Osteopath who specialises in babies and they immediately put me at ease.
I went to the appointment full of hope. The session with my Cranial Osteopath lasted an hour and started with half an hour of questions. They asked all about my pregnancy, how I felt, babies movements and so on. They then asked about the labour and how it had been. Then finally I was asked how Alice was when she slept. I explained she was fine until I put her down when she would immediately jolt awake with a jerky movement and her eyes would shoot open. From this he was confident he would be able to help and spent the next 30 minutes working on Alice. I will admit I was a bit baffled by this part. He placed his hand on her head and tummy, gently applying pressure to various points. It was so subtle you couldn’t really see it. She was amazing and just lay still the whole way through. Apparently whatever it is they do puts babies at ease. By the end of the 30 minutes Alice was asleep. The recommendation was three sessions for babies so I booked my second for a week later.
He said Alice would probably now sleep for a few hours. She didn’t! Nope. Wide awake as soon as we got in the car! I felt deflated.
Over the next week I noticed that Alice wasn’t jerking awake as suddenly as she had been. She would also sleep for short periods in her bouncy chair. Only 5 or 10 minutes but believe me that was good.
Another 30 minute session and needless to say she was again awake as soon as we got in the car! This time there was a two week gap between appointments and over the next two weeks I began to lose my belief that this was the miracle cure I was looking for. For the first few days Alice was much better, sleeping up to 25 minutes in her big girl cot at nap times. Then it went downhill. We went back to only sleeping on me and I approached my final session with an underlying concern that this just wasn’t going to work.
The Cranial Osteopath said he didn’t know many 16 week olds who never slept on their own at all. This did not fill me with confidence. At the end of the 30 minute session I asked when I should make the next appointment and he told me not to. I honestly felt like crying as I thought that he had decided Alice was beyond help. My one little glimmer of hope had been dashed.
Back at home I was beginning to wonder how I would cope and what on earth I was going to do. The next day was the same as usual but the following day something changed. My mum was round and Alice had fallen asleep so she took her up to her cot. She lay her on her tummy (which we had tried before to no avail) and Alice slept for 3 hours. 3 whole hours of me being in complete disbelief. Maybe it was a fluke but she did exactly the same later that day. This pattern continued as the days went on and I couldn’t believe I had gone from a child who wouldn’t sleep to one who was a snooze machine! Night times were a bit more hit and miss for another month and she would often end up in our room. I found myself constantly checking on her to make sure she was ok, especially as I knew you shouldn’t really let them sleep on their tummy. I will admit I was concerned about her sleeping on her tummy but we quickly ordered an Angel Care baby monitor with the sensor mat and I felt much more relaxed. From that day one she was a dream baby (most of the time at least!) napping regularly and for long periods. It was like she was making up for lost time.
I still don’t know what made her change but I can only say that seeing a Cranial Osteopath worked for me and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
If any of you have visited a Cranial Osteopath or are considering it please do share below. Any other top tips for getting baby to sleep are welcome!
Image by Little Beanies.