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A Newborn Cranial Session: Mia Lands In Her Body

By Karen Melton

During a home visit to support a newborn I witnessed a beautiful experience of embodiment. We’re all souls having an embodied experience. My work with babies is a combination of cranial sacral and somatic pre- and perinatal therapy. Mia, at four weeks old, had layers of stress in her mouth, jaw, and neck due to a revision (cutting) of the frenulum, after a tongue-tie diagnosis. A revision can also add another layer of stress in the body, as it’s a lot for a newborn to manage. Mia’s other presenting issue was that she was completely avoiding turning her head to her left side.

I usually support newborns while they are held in their mother’s arms. Mia’s mom, Victoria, was grounded and very tuned in, both to herself and to Mia. Babies are conscious and sentient throughout their creation journey. A mom and newborn are like one, but even a baby’s experience is unique. Both mom and baby need lots of room to share their prenatal and birth experiences.

At the beginning of the session Mia was sleeping and coming in and out of consciousness. Then mom changed her diaper, and she woke up a little more. I had my hand on the back of her head and was tuning in to her whole system. Even with her eyes open, Mia seemed as though she was in a distant place. Looking in a baby’s eyes can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling, and about their current level of presence and embodiment.

Mia was not present; her eyes were glazed over, and there was little sense of available connection. I opened my awareness much wider to encompass Mia’s soul/energy body. I held some open curiosity about where she was hanging out in relation to her physical body, why she had needed to disconnect, and what was keeping her from being present.

Energetically leaving our body is a common defense behavior. It’s a way to cope with something challenging or overwhelming, and there’s always a good reason for it. We can rely on this defense when we’re feeling stressed, scared, traumatized, or isolated. I purposefully became very present, grounded, and centered to give Mia a sense of an anchor. In addition to gently holding the back of her head, I held her sacrum so that she could orient and ground to her root. Mia’s system began to unwind.

In baby sessions there is often a point when there is a felt sense of deepening and an alignment—an energetic coming together between the practitioner, baby and mom/parents. In this resonant state, everything and anything can happen, because baby is ready to open to healing on a much deeper level. It can take a lot of slowing down, hanging out, and listening before this deeper opening can happen, and it may not happen in the first session.

I held Mia’s head, and then held her sacrum and head simultaneously for about 30 minutes. She eventually became more present in her eyes and, with a little smile, she made eye contact with me. She was getting the support that she needed to land more in her body, and become present.

I was gently holding the back of her head, when Mia suddenly moved her head side to side three times, quite fast. I looked at Victoria and said, “That was all coming from her.” She was surprised that Mia could move that way. Afterward, Mia began very slowly to navigate moving her head to the left side, which since birth had been a “no go” area for her. I encouraged her to take her time, sensing that this area might be holding some memories about her birth. As Mia slowly moved her head to the left, Victoria spoke up. “I was lying on my left side for a very long time during birthing,” she said. “It was uncomfortable, and at times painful. I don’t know how it was for Mia during that time.”

“You each had some uncomfortable left-side experiences,” I said. We held an open curiosity together about what Mia might have been experiencing during that time.

Moms and babies are somatically and nonverbally connected; Mia’s movements and her orientation into her left side invoked the left-side memory in Victoria, of an important part of their birthing dance. This kind of communication between mom and baby is normal, and absolutely to be trusted. A mom and her newborn are a dyad. Their stories can emerge through each other, as well as directly from each of them.

As I was supporting Mia’s head on her left side, which she had chosen to occupy, she suddenly dropped into herself even more deeply. Imagine seeing someone in a posture in which they are not quite at home, or which looks uncomfortable, and then feeling their energy drop in and occupy their body. It’s as if a light goes on. They’re able to occupy themselves fully in that posture in a new way, to embody themselves within it. In addition to becoming more present in general, Mia had now become more embodied in a part of herself that she had previously been unable to occupy. This is an example of supporting embodiment, which many mom/baby dyads need.

As Victoria saw this integration happen in her baby girl she looked on in wonder. Mia’s landing was accompanied by a feeling of expansion in her whole system. She took the most fabulous big stretch with her whole body, arms and legs stretched out to full length. Her mother had never seen her stretch like this before. Mia’s neck looked longer than it had at the beginning of the session, which is not unusual when a somatic stress or trauma has been released or unwound.

Witnessing a moment of further embodiment in a little one is a great joy to behold. Embodiment is such an important process, and one for which we often need some help and support. It takes mindful, present contact and holding, and sometimes some unwinding of stresses. Connection, listening, empathy, safety, and support are important, because we’re not wired to do it by ourselves. We need to be held so that we can arrive more, and more, and more. Stress and trauma can keep us out of our bodies, feeling disconnected, isolated, and unloved. Many of us live in this state our whole lives because we don’t get the support that we need. The more present we are, the more connection we can achieve with our loved ones.

A couple more sessions with Mia allowed her to complete her embodiment into the left side of her head, neck, and shoulder, which increased her comfort in breastfeeding, in her general level of presence, and in her ability to connect with her loved ones. It also helped to unwind her body from the stress of the tongue-tie revision.

Always opt for the less invasive options, like craniosacral therapy, before going toward surgical procedures with newborns. Take your time and don’t be pressured by well-meaning practitioners and medical people. Unwinding stress and trauma in the body can often be enough to resolve the issues. I recommend a few craniosacral sessions to reduce tension and unwind stress and trauma before having a revision for tongue-tie, as it might become unnecessary. It is also a wonderful gift to give to yourself, and your baby, as a support to integrate your prenatal and birth journey.