How does our birth experience influence our personality? Does it matter if we travel down the birth canal or if we are born via a C section? Many Rolfers believe that we are shaped by our early experiences, including childbirth.
Even when childbirth goes smoothly, the journey from being inside a mother’s womb to being out in the world is challenging. When the baby is in utero, she is in a protected environment, safely embraced. As the fetus grows and develops, a pattern of flexion emerges. The chin is tucked, and the arms and legs are drawn into the body as the uborn baby prepares for the trip to the outside world.
When the fetus experiences difficulty or trauma during gestation or in childbirth, Rolfers and other somatic therapists believe the body stores these experiences in the tissue. These tissue “memories” can become part of the physical structure of the infant.
Whether the birth goes smoothly and without complications, or if it is more challenging, all newborn babies have a dominance of flexor tone that keeps the arms and legs flexed, head tucked in and spine curled. Ideally, as the baby matures, the flexor tone recedes, but this is not always the case.
Rolfing is a remarkable tool for mitigating all kinds of trauma. Trauma, whether emotional or physical creates fascial shortenings in the structure. The body remembers traumatic experiences. Rolfers use gentle pressure to release shortenings in the tissue. As the body lengthens, the heart opens and the baby becomes more comfortable in its own skin. Changes from Rolfing are both physical and emotional.
In our experience, a small amount of input goes a long way with newborn babies. We have Rolfed newborn children with the gentlest touch and watched the body unfold – Rolfing eases the infant’s way into the world. We also Rolf children with neurologic and developmental challenges including Cerebral Palsy and genetic disorders. Minor issues resolve easily, while complicated problems often require more input.
Is there an appropriate age to begin Rolfing? Rolfing is suitable for newborn babies and throughout life. It is always a good time to receive this healing touch.