As a new parent, it can seen like a good night's sleep - or a few hours at least - is an impossible dream. But what do you do when sleep for all of you all remains elusive? Here's Chloe on an alternative remedy she tried after the birth of her son.
It may be a tired old cliche, but once you become a parent, you really do understand why sleep deprivation is such an effective form of torture.
When Samuel came along, it seemed like he was in a never-ending battle with sleep. A battle that he was determined to win, no matter how grumpy it made him - and it made him very grumpy indeed. He point blank refused to sleep in his moses basket or in our bed, so my husband and I paced our floors with him, we rocked him, we sang to him, we counted at him and we surrounded him with white noise, but all to no avail. In his first few months, the only time he ever stopped crying and went to sleep was when he was in my arms after a feed. I wasn't really sleeping at all.
In retrospect I think it was a pretty normal experience - I mean newborn babies aren't really designed to sleep much are they? But for a while everything felt very dark and the bone-crunching tiredness made me feel like my brain was imploding. So I did what any other desperate parent does. I hit the mum forums on the web. It was through these that I first heard about cranial osteopathy. We were at our wits' end and numerous people seemed to swear by this gentle treatment for their sleepless babies, so we decided to give it a go. To be honest, we'd have been up for giving anything a go at that point.
The idea of cranial osteopathy is that it encourages the release of any tensions in a baby's head and body that may have been caused by their birth. The osteopath applies very specific, light and gentle pressure where necessary to help the body release its stresses.
I did my research and found a lovely local therapist for Samuel. She had qualifications coming out of her ears, an extremely calm demeanour and was really great with him. But even so, I must admit that I was a little dubious during his first appointment. Could something that was so gentle it essentially looked like a 20-minute baby head massage actually be effective? And for £42 a session, was I being had?
To this day I don't think I can answer that question with any certainty or scientific proof. But what I can say is that both during and after his appointment he was calmer than he'd ever been before. That night he slept better than ever, and he sleeping continued to improve over the next few weeks as the appointments continued. Perhaps it was all coincidence. Perhaps he was just getting older and his sleeping patterns were changing. Perhaps the fact that we were having feeding difficulties so began to switch to formula milk around that time had an impact. Who knows? But would I go back to a cranial osteopath if I ever have anther baby who doesn't sleep? In a heartbeat.
Did cranial osteopathy work for your baby? Leave a comment and let us know.
Chloe is a copywriter who lives in South London with her son Samuel, her husband, and their long-suffering cat.