Amie was fortunate to sit down and enjoy a wonderful chat with Marie Shinmoto, physiotherapist and owner of M.A.P. Physiotherapy. During the course of the conversation we chatted about her holistic approach to treatment and how common issues in babies, children, and adults alike can be eased and often remedied when whole body systems are addressed. She shared a wonderful story that day that illustrated just what a difference that holistic approach can make and she’s sharing it with us today.
My first experience with a birth doula involved me sitting there with my jaw hanging open as my partner and I watched video clips of women giving birth in an incredibly focused and powerfully natural way. “But where is all the screaming, cursing, and clawing?” I asked. The doula shrugged and said, “It’s completely unnecessary and doesn’t have to be any part of an uncomplicated birth.” I knew right then and there that we needed to work with this woman and that everything would be just as it should. And it was for the birth of both of our children.
We connected because I too refuse to accept the status quo if I think things can be done differently. If there is an easier way I will look for it for my clients. Where there are no answers I will search for them so that I can help people. When medical professionals say they don’t know what causes a particular condition, I add the word “yet” on the end of that sentence, followed by the words, “Game on”.
It was this approach that led me to discover that colic can be treated. My first experience with this was before we had children and a friend asked us to take care of her baby overnight so she and her partner could deal with a flood in their basement. She was reluctant to leave him because he was very colicky and screamed most of the night.
She dropped him off on a Saturday morning, still asking us if we were certain we wanted to do it. We shooed her off with assurances that losing one night of sleep for two people who didn’t have any children was no big deal. She told us that he started getting very uncomfortable after his 1:00 feed in the afternoon and then it was just downhill from there generally.
Armed with coffee and the patience that comes with not being woken during the night on a regular basis, we settled in with him. Sometime in the late morning I undressed him to change his diaper. While I watched him lying on his back and happily kicking his legs something suddenly struck me. This baby was crooked. Very crooked. He was bent over to one side like a banana.
As I looked more closely I realized that when he kicked one leg everything was fine, but when he kicked the other leg (the one on the short side of the banana) that whole side of his abdomen twisted. Since lying on their backs and kicking their little legs is what babies do most of the day, I figured twisting your abdomen every time you do it just couldn’t be good for your digestion.
I tried to gently straighten him out only to have him bend back over to the same side. I tried moving his hips and discovered that the one on the short side was quite a bit more difficult to move than the other. I stared at his twisting little abdomen with fascination. If I could just straighten him out and free up that hip, surely that would help his colic. But could it possibly be that easy?
The Body as a Whole
I decided to give it a try. Having previously treated his mother I knew she would approve, so I set to work. I did some very gentle techniques to release the muscles and connective tissue around the hip and pelvis on the problem side. Then I discovered that the whole side of his trunk was tight right up to the shoulder and neck. I slowly worked my way up and when I got to the shoulder I felt this huge release of tension in the tissues. The little guy felt it too because he gave me this look that I swear said, “What the heck did you just do?”
I held my breath for a moment as he looked like he was about to start screaming at that point. He hovered for a moment, unsure. Then he took a big breath and settled back happily. Whew! I was scared for a moment there.
I gave him his bottle at 1:00 in the afternoon and then we waited on pins and needles. He’s going to start screaming any minute now. Are you ready to tag team partner? We’re good. We can handle this. And then nothing happened. He was fine all afternoon. Not an unhappy peep.
We gave him his last bottle at about 9:00 in the evening and settled him in the bassinette in our room. Every time he snuffled we would be ready to get up and grab him if he started screaming. Admittedly we didn’t sleep well, but it wasn’t because he cried. It was because we were anticipating it coming. In fact, he slept right through until 6:00 in the morning when he happily took a bottle and started his day off calmly.
When his mother came to pick him up she was apologizing even before I could get the door fully open. When I told her that he slept the night she was absolutely stunned. I told her about what I had discovered and she practically shed tears of relief for her son. Amazingly his colicky symptoms never returned. Mom had found a way to bring calm to the house.
Treating Colic a Different Way
Since then more families living with colic have come for treatment, and have successfully relieved their child’s suffering. I believe the cause is tightness on one side of the body, which is likely due to position in utero. This tightness causes pulling on the abdomen and the intestines, which is what produces the painful symptoms. I affectionately refer to babies with colic as banana babies because they are always crooked. Freeing up the tight tissues that are pulling on the intestines, as well as restoring symmetry relieves the symptoms.
I believe in treating people, not symptoms or isolated body parts. If the intestines are being physically twisted, then no medication or approach aimed at settling the digestive system is going to help colic. The cause of the twisting involves the whole body and has to be treated as such. Colic can be so devastating for the whole family and it breaks my heart when I hear of people suffering with this. Know that you are not alone and that there is treatment available.
Marie and her colleagues treat people of all ages through her clinic, for various reasons. Whether your needs stem from neurological issues, prenatal or postnatal concerns, orthopaedic injury, or something isn’t quite right with your child there is care available to you at M.A.P. Physiotherapy. Thank you, Marie, for sharing your knowledge, your humour, and your expertise with us.