Birth Trauma


iStock_000012921166SmallI never use traditional, high velocity “Chiropractic adjustments” on babies. The gentle techniques of Cranial-Sacral work are more suitable, and very effective, for such sensitive and vulnerable little one’s, especially when they have been traumatized on their birth journey.

During treatment children or babies rest, fully clothed, either on a massage table, in my lap, or on their parent’s lap. Sometimes children sit, crawl, walk, stand or play with toys on the floor during the treatment. They don’t need to hold still. I adapt my techniques to the attention span and needs of the child. I monitor the Cranial-Sacral rhythm with my hands. I conduct other gentle assessments and correct the sources of pain and dysfunction, using gentle manipulative techniques.

Sometimes children release emotions or cry during treatment, which can be part of the therapeutic release. The techniques do not hurt and the work is very gentle. Seldom does the pressure exceed five grams (the weight of a nickel). Each portion of the session is slow and incremental, with frequent pauses to allow baby to stay connected to parents. Parental eye contact and connection is encouraged throughout, as a necessary part of co-creating a safe container for this gentle healing work.

Most children find the sessions to be deeply relaxing. Babies and children will often sleep for a longer stretch than usual immediately after a session.


  • Dr H was recommended to us after our 10.3 lb daughter Willow was stuck during delivery, resulting in a stunned shoulder and a right arm she could not use. His high level of intuition put my wife and I at ease immediately, and completely calmed our fears. After one visit Willow gained use of her arm, and had full use by visits 2-3. She is now an active 2 year old who shows no signs of the trauma. With our next child on the way, we are planning to take them all to Dr. H no matter how they arrive.
    In Gratitude, Andrew Rosengrant
  • My 2 month old grandson had a birth injury to his neck, which he couldn't turn, and he cried all the time. I took him to Dr Hertenstein for Cranial-Sacral and he was 50% better after one treatment and the crying subsided. After 5 more visits he was vastly improved, thank you Dr H for your dedication and healing touch.
    Donna Greer
    Massage Therapist, Santa Rosa, CA
  • When my daughter was 4 years old I discovered she was suffering from constant headaches. I took her to Dr Hertenstein and he worked his magic. Her headaches ceased and she became a happier and less fearful child. She’s 32 now and lives out of state but when she comes home, she gets a session with Dr Hertenstein just for a tune-up.
    Jane Pritchard for Cori Flaherty
    mother, Austin, Texas
  • Dennis worked with our newborn son and we noticed improvements in sleep and eating patterns immediately. We are very grateful to him and to our midwife for referring us to him, thank you!
    Mother, Farmer, Entrepreneur and Attorney, Bodega, CA
  • During her birth my daughters shoulders were stuck, and the midwives pulled her out by her head. Her jaw was very tight, causing nursing difficulties. My midwife had taken Dr Hertenstein's Post-Partum Interventions for Newborns class and did some initial work that helped release her neck tension. Then Dr Hertenstein helped her considerably in just one visit! He is very attuned to the body tension that newborns can hold due to birth, thank you Dennis!
    Julia Farmer
    Homesteader, Sebastopol CA
  • My grandson was born with an apgar score of 2 (not good) and was treated by Dr. Hertenstein within 24 hours of his birth. He showed a marked and rapid improvement in body tone and was more present. At 2 months he was treated again as his eyes and head were not tracking properly. The results of those treatments were amazing, he could see properly, and had a much-improved capacity for movement. My grandson was dramatically more balanced, present, and functional after the treatments, Dr. Hertenstein is truly and deeply a doctor who can meet birth trauma issues with wisdom, knowledge, capacity, and clearly, with Love.
    A Grateful West County Grandmother


Children frequently suffer from a dysfunctional Cranial-Sacral system. A child born in pain may learn to adapt. However, living with pain and dysfunction uses up the child’s “buffer zone” and this “state-of-being” becomes the “template”, and challenge, around which the rest of that child’s life becomes organized.

During the birth process, the baby’s head and body are able to “mold” to fit into, and than through, the mother’s pelvis. It is normal for birthing baby’s cranial bones to over-ride each other. After birth, these over-rides and other bodily accommodations in the baby’s skull, pelvis and other parts of the body, should not persist. If they do not self-correct, they can interfere with proper cranial, spinal and other nerve and vascular function, leading to many possible difficulties (see “Signs of Birth Trauma” in the side bar). In this way many newborn babies are left with permanent effects of injury from the birth process. These injuries may be physical and/or emotional. Cranial-Sacral Therapy can address many of these injuries, along with the effects of precipitous (too fast) or prolonged labor, vacuum extraction, forceps, or cesarean (surgical) birth.


Cesarean birth can be harder on babies than we are aware. Of course, “C-sections” can be life saving in the 3-6% of births where the procedure is actually medically indicated. However, these surgically born babies, statistically, as a group, have lower Apgar scores, more respiratory distress, more frequently abnormal neurologic exams and Cranial-Sacral evaluations. They have more chronic middle ear infections and other problems throughout childhood. The surgical birth process can be abrupt and potentially more frightening than vaginal birth. Surgically-born infants have fewer quiet, alert periods right after birth and have less opportunity to share bonding time with their mothers who may be unconscious or recovering in another room.