Dr. Angelika Schultz is a craniosacral therapist and instructor, a birth integration therapist, a German medical doctor and chiropractor and a birth doula helping mothers, babies, and families on the Front Range achieve optimal health and wellness through her various therapies. We asked Dr. Schultz to explain about her practice.
YS: You do craniosacral therapy in your practice primarily with babies, children, and pregnant women. Can you explain what craniosacral therapy is?
Angelika Schultz: Sure. Craniosacral Therapy is a very gentle bodywork that brings your systems back into alignment and provides preventative and healing care for the whole family.
Because of its gentleness it is safe for babies and at the same time very effective.
The main principle of this treatment is providing space. And you can apply this principle to body, mind, and spirit.
Our organs need space to perform at their best. For a pregnant mom, this can mean to provide more space for the lower back to alleviate pain, or to provide more space for her abdomen and pelvis to help her baby to settle in the best position for birth. The treatment happens with the client fully clothed.
For a newborn, more space is needed especially for the head. Our head gets squeezed and molded during birth. Providing more space and better alignment for head and neck after birth is the best foundation for optimal brain development. It also helps fussy babies to become calm and happy again, or colicky babies to get healthy very quickly.
The principle of space applies to our mind as well. If the client desires to work on this level, I can provide space for stories to be told. Maybe you or your child needs to talk about a challenging birth, an accident, surgery, an old trauma or a difficult transition. Sharing your story – with words or with body language – allows you to make sense out of it and understand yourself better. Understanding leads to integration. Integration leads to healing.
Working in this way goes deeper then talk therapy alone, because it includes the connection of body and mind.
Craniosacral Therapy also creates space for stillness. Stillness allows you to find yourself and to come in contact with your life purpose. In this way, Craniosacral Therapy facilitates your journey toward personal and spiritual growth.
According to your wish and intention we can work on one or more of these levels.
YS: How can craniosacral therapy help pregnant women?
AS: A huge benefit is that Craniosacral Therapy helps pregnant women to prepare for an easier birth.
The treatments are safe and effective for each trimester. In the beginning of pregnancy, the focus often lies on helping your body adjust to the new task of being with a baby. Craniosacral Therapy helps with morning sickness, tiredness and exhaustion, and can ease all the changes you are going through. It also teaches you how to communicate with your baby and to strengthen the bond to your child even before birth.
Toward the end of pregnancy, the preparation for birth comes more to the foreground.
An optimal alignment of your spine and pelvis encourages your baby to settle down into the best position for birth. It even helps breech babies to turn.
Through the treatment, your body awareness increases. This is a great ability to have during birth. It allows you to be in tune with what your body and your baby need during labor and birth, and eases the process a lot.
We can even do a family session before birth, helping your husband, birth partner, or an older child to prepare for birth as well, and to teach them how to support you in a way you like.
Depending on your intention and condition, just a few treatments can be very effective in helping you to feel more energized and pain free. Some pregnant women only come in for a treatment if they have a symptom they want help with.
Other women enjoy the quiet and relaxing time with their unborn baby – especially when they have older kids or a stressful work. They come in on a regular basis, such as once a month, to benefit from the stress relieving effects of the treatment, knowing that a mother, who feels relaxed, peaceful, and happy grows happy babies.
I also work with couples who had a rather challenging or even traumatic previous birth, had a difficult birth experience as a baby themselves, or who are dealing with the loss of a baby. By integrating what happened before, we can heal and clear old trauma and anxiety to allow you to enjoy your new pregnancy and to go into this new birth with confidence and excitement, able to make different decisions and to experience a different birth.
This is especially important if you want to prepare yourself for a VBAC – a vaginal birth after a cesarean birth.
YS: How can it help babies after birth? And what about older children?
AS: Birth is a very big adventure for your baby. Everything changes. Your baby comes from floating in water to the outside world, where he or she can feel gravity, louder noises, brighter lights, cooler air. Your baby also has to transition into breathing and digesting on his own. Craniosacral Therapy eases this major transition for your baby.
While this is helpful for every newborn, it is especially important for babies who show a lot of distress or who had a challenging birth.
A few examples for situations where Craniosacral Therapy makes a huge difference, sometimes even in a short period of time are:
- your baby has a hematoma on his head from a long labor or a less than optimal position during birth
- your baby’s head shows a lot of molding
- your baby is premature
- your baby cries a lot
- your baby has a favorite side, turns her head easily to one side, but hardly uses the other
- your baby has trouble falling a sleep, startles a lot, is very gassy or so called “colicky”
- your baby has breastfeeding challenges
- your baby is born by vacuum extraction, forceps, or cesarean section.
Since I have a background of being a German Medical Doctor, I have a lot of experience in working with very sick or disabled babies and children as well. Craniosacral Therapy is helpful to ease and speed up recovery after surgery or illnesses, especially when the nervous system is involved. It is helpful if your baby fell from a changing table, or experiences side effects from vaccination. I also have success in helping babies and children who are delayed in their development for various reasons.
Craniosacral Therapy is beneficial for every age group. You do need specialized training if you want to work with children, babies, and pregnant families. I not only have this specialized training, I also teach it to other practitioners.
And yes, I do work with older children as well.
Some of the main reasons parents see me with older children are forms of ADD or ADHD, learning difficulties, headaches, or the diagnosis that their child belongs in the autism spectrum.
YS: You also practice birth integration therapy. Can you explain a little about what that is?
AS: Birth Integration Therapy is a very important aspect of my work.
The way we are born has a major impact on how we see the world, how we act in it, and how we build our relationships. This is why healing early traumas has such a life changing effect on us.
Birth is meant to be a celebration of welcoming for a new baby, is meant to be a family event, is meant to be the celebration of a woman entering motherhood, a man entering fatherhood.
But right now, our society is pretty far away from this ideal picture. We live in a technological era. This influences how we picture an ideal birth. And unfortunately – often with the best intention in mind – crazy things are getting done to mothers and babies during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
But our nervous system builds connections at the fastest rate ever during birth and in the weeks before and after. This means that our birth experience really shapes our lives. So we need to pay more attention to how we treat babies and their families during this precious time.
I help couples and families to prepare for a conscious conception and a conscious birth so that the new babies can feel welcomed and loved in the way they expect and desire.
And if the birth experience or pregnancy was not the wonderful, welcoming experience you were dreaming of, I help families to integrate what happened and to heal from it.
YS: How does birth integration therapy help the baby? And what about the rest of the family?
AS: The earlier you start the therapy, the easier it usually is. Rather then waiting until your child is “old enough,” it often makes sense to help your baby very soon after birth to heal from a challenging or traumatic birth experience.
Imagine that you were involved in an accident. You are bruised all over, needed to deal with a few medical tests – some of them were even painful.
When you come home, what do you feel like doing first?
I am pretty sure that what most of us feel like doing is to talk about it. You want to talk with your spouse, or you wish to call your best friend. And you want to share what happened. This helps you to deal with your experience and then to go on with your life.
The very same is true for babies. Birth was most likely the biggest adventure your child was part of so far. Babies not only have to master the transition from being in water inside the womb to the more independent life outside. They also have to negotiate the very small and dark pathway of the birth canal, the oxygen might get low for some periods of time, the pressure of contractions might hurt… When interventions are involved, the baby has to deal with toxins, instruments, feeling disconnected from mom, and various other things.
And what babies want to do is to talk about it, to share their experience. And they do it until somebody understands and acknowledges their experiences.
Since babies don’t yet speak our language, they communicate with body movements, facial expressions, and their voice, even with crying.
By helping them to express their story, babies are able to release lots of tension and stress from their bodies. So the treatment not only helps babies to become happy again, it also has a positive effect on sleeping and digestion. By integrating challenging birth experiences, the baby can finally feel loved and welcomed and is able to create a strong foundation of trust and confidence, expecting wonderful things from life.
Birth Integration helps the whole family. For adults, looking in to your own birth experience when you were a baby helps you to release some anxiety you might have about birthing your children. It also prevents you from passing on unhealthy family patterns. And it enables you and your children to create loving relationships.
Integrating the birth of your first born or a previous child helps you to go strong and confident into a next birth, free from old trauma. It also helps you to prepare yourself for a VBAC – a vaginal birth after cesarean.
In addition, Birth Integration Therapy offers great benefits outside the childbearing years. To heal your earliest imprints will change your life. Through Birth Integration Therapy you will be able to create more options for your current behavior and for being in a healthy relationship. You will meet your genuine self and find new ways of stepping up to that wonderful person you always wanted to be.
I offer this work in one-on-one sessions with me, as well as in workshops with small groups of about six people.
For older children I have a lot of birth related toys in my practice. This makes it easy for them to express their birth story.
I recently treated a four year old girl and her family. The girl didn’t like to be touched and her movements were not well coordinated. She would hurt herself a lot from falling down or stumbling over things, running into things…
The girl was born by c-section, so was missing out on the experience of the passage through the birth canal. This made it harder for her to feel her body boundaries and to develop a sense of where her body ends and the environment starts. That is one reason why being touched didn’t feel safe to her. Another reason is that the handling during and after her cesarean birth was not very gentle.
Out of a folding mattress we built a tunnel for her in my practice. She tried to crawl through it with her face first, and then came out sideward, showing us the story of her birth.
The parents confirmed that she got stuck in a so called facial presentation – that means she entered the birth canal face first – which finally led to her cesarean birth.
While working with her, she figured out a way of flexing her head and bringing her chin toward her chest – the ideal position to start your journey through the birth canal. This allowed her to crawl through the tunnel completely and to experience sensations in her body she missed out on during her actual birth. Playing with the tunnel, as well as playing with stuffed animals and them giving birth, allowed her to express her frustration about being stuck. It also provided the chance to discover and explore more options she has now as a four year old girl.
These sessions helped her to improve her balance and body awareness, her motor skills got much better, and she finally enjoys being touched, and cuddling with her parents – knowing the difference now between the loving touch of her parents and the unpleasant touch during her birth interventions, as well as mastering the ability of saying “no” to things she doesn’t like.
My website offers a lot more information about the Craniosacral and Birth Integration work I provide. It also has more details about my background and training. Please visit my site at www.cranioworld.com.
Feel free to contact me with your questions or inquiry what Craniosacral Therapy can do for you and your family. I am looking forward to hearing from you!
Photos courtesy Angelika Schultz