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C-Section Side Effect: 'Pent-Up Energy'?

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: When my daughter was born, she came by C-section. This was after 29 hours of labor and two epidurals. I tried to have a vaginal birth, but I was never, ever able to dilate past eight centimeters, and time was running out. So my birth plan was derailed, but I had a healthy daughter.

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Then someone told me that my daughter may need to see a cranial-sacral specialist because of the C-section. Why?, I wondered. Turns out, there's a theory that since babies born through C-section do not pass through the vaginal canal, they have pent-up energy and stress that was never released at birth. Is this true?

Experts say that birth is one of the most dramatic experiences of our lives. The experience influences how each of us views the world. It shapes our personalities and our responses to the environment and with other people. Birth trauma is defined as "a mechanical force or psychological injury that happens near or at the time of delivery." There are many signs and symptoms of birth trauma, including hypersensitivity (to sound, movement, diaper changes, etc.), poor sleep, irritability, poor feeding, stiffness and lethargy/low energy or (at the other extreme) hyperexcitability.

In a vaginal birth, the bones of the head go through normal compression/decompression while exiting the birth canal. The compression and decompression prepare the baby for atmospheric changes from a fluid-based environment to an air-based one. When a baby is delivered by C-section, this process is eliminated, and restrictions in the skull can occur.

Babies are subjected to compressive forces during their passage through the birth canal, which can cause trauma in the tissues. In order to function fully, the compressive forces benefit from relaxing and releasing. Tension and stuck spots can cause restrictions and imbalances in a baby's system, potentially giving rise to issues such as colic, sucking problems and respiratory difficulties.

Did my baby have pent-up stress and tension because she was yanked from my belly instead of going through the vaginal birthing process? I did not notice anything too strange, except that she was born with her days and nights confused ....

According to research, cranial-sacral therapy (CST) can help ease the trauma from birth. CST can minimize or eliminate the effects of the delivery process by gently facilitating the natural healing mechanism already present in every baby. This touch therapy promotes the ultimate relaxation within your baby's body, which facilitates the natural healing process.Babies often have some area of tightness or compression that causes undue tension or stress on the nerves. The tight or compressed areas are very gently softened, enabling your baby to let go of this stress.

My daughter never received CST, because I never noticed any symptoms that worried me. Coming into the world seems like a very stressful event however it happens. I can't imagine how it must feel to be yanked out of a safe womb into this world. So I am open to all theories. Even this one.


next: I Wanted a Baby; He Didn't
26 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anon November 18, 2010, 8:19 AM

Sounds nutty to me. I would be against any therapy that involved squeezing a baby’s head, but ordinary massage is good for everyone.

My kids were fine after C-sections.

Please remember that babies born vaginally can have birth trauma that causes learning disabilities or epilepsy.

Alexis November 18, 2010, 9:29 AM

The bit about “pent up stress” sounds a bit like bull. Suddenly exiting into an air environment would produce the same traumatic experiences. However, I can believe the bit about contractions preparing the sinus system for pressure changes in the outside world. Your child is fine, I’m sure.

Alexis  November 18, 2010, 9:31 AM

I’d also like to add that stressing the physical body and anxiety based stress are entirely different things. Your baby may not have experienced the physical tension and stress of compression/decompression, but this does not mean that the child is at an elevated risk of anxious stress.

Nancy November 18, 2010, 10:10 AM

What a load of crap. I had a C-section, and had the most pleasant child any woman could ask for. He was so content and happy. If anything I would think it would be the other way around with the stress a baby goes through when it is delivered vaginaly.

christina November 18, 2010, 10:21 AM

I had an emergency c section, and am a massage thereapist. Cranial Sacral work is excellent for everyone including newborns, and it is very relaxing. The pressure is not more than 5 grams of weight, and the idea that your central nervous system should be addressed, soothed, the casing (skull) should be gently touched to create fabulous side effects for the body, mind and spirit. Cranial work has been shown to be helpful in autistic kids and I still do it on my son whom they tried to vacuum out of me- talk about dangerous, the vacuum! People get out there, and open your mind with a little Cranial work- you will love it!!

Monica November 18, 2010, 11:54 AM

Yeah, I’m with Nancy on this one. My son was delivered by c-section. He was a happy and content baby. Ideal. Quiet. Not fussy. All he cared for is to be fed and changed. He was a little angel till he learned how to walk. I’m not believing all that nonsense. We need to worry more about taking care of their needs now and whats ahead of them in life than worrying about whether or not they were stressed at birth.

Jayne November 18, 2010, 12:36 PM

LOL, this is ridiculous. When did we become a nation of worry-warts that have to diagnose EVERYthing??? Someone mentioned that massages are good for everyone, and that’s true. I can’t see how this treatment specifically could cause harm to the baby, except that it reinforces the idea to the poor mother that something is wrong with him.

Carol November 18, 2010, 2:27 PM

I would like to know the creditial of the “experts”. Who exactly are they? What orgainziations are they affliated what? Claiming “experts says” is too much like “I read it on-line” Not everyone is quailfied to be an expert. And not evrything on-line is true.
There’s a big difference between “psychic to the stars” and doctors at Mayo Clinic.

KS November 18, 2010, 5:21 PM

Carol, not every doctor at the Mayo clinic is the be all end all either. I went there with a diagnosis of myasthenia gravis. The doctor I saw looked at me and told me if I really had a problem I would have worn simpler shoes. So ignoring people who heal the whole body while listening to the whole person because they aren’t an “expert” in my mind is just as ignorant as buying into snake oil.

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