My daughter (first-born child) was born at 42 weeks after an unmedicated, uncomplicated, but extremely precipitous and grueling labor that lasted a mere six hours. She came out with her fists clenched, and though I didn’t know what it meant at the time, I knew it signified something deeper.
The first three days of breastfeeding were grueling. I pushed past the pain and it resolved, but she nursed what felt like 24/7, choked a lot on breastmilk, and spit up or projectile vomited frequently. We endured moderate colic in her newborn phase—she screamed and seemed to be in pain with benign tasks like laying on her back for diaper changes or sitting in her car seat and wanted to be held constantly.
Even by 10 months she had what I called “nervous system excitability.” It manifested in extreme emotional states if she was handled too much, an over-toned startle reflex (jumped if I moved too fast near her), and frequent night wakings (every 1–2 hours). By standard pediatric metrics, she was in perfect health, but my instinct as a mother and nurse told me something deeper was going on.
She was also dealing with months of constipation that I had supported through every natural intervention available with no resolution. Finally, I felt led to try craniosacral therapy and that’s when I learned about fascial strain. This newfound understanding made sense of everything I’d seen in her since birth and validated my gut instinct.
I took her for an evaluation to a pediatric dentist who diagnosed a mild anterior tongue tie. It wasn’t impeding her ability to eat or nurse, but she was coughing and gagging frequently while eating and still had other signs of systemic fascial strain.
Through some online research, I discovered the work of Dr. Barry Gillespie and the approach he created, merging craniosacral therapy and myofascial release therapy under one umbrella dubbed craniosacral fascial therapy (CFT), or the Gillespie Approach. After reading testimonials and his articles, I knew this was the answer for my daughter.
Extremely fast labors are one of the causative factors of fascial strain. My husband is the poster boy for systemic fascial strain untreated over a lifetime, so I knew she was predisposed to it. I researched for a practitioner near me and was floored to find that Dr. Gillespie practiced forty-five minutes from my home.
On our first appointment she started with a zero-second brain cycle and opened up to 90 seconds. Dr. Gillespie noted she had an in-utero compressive strain in her left leg that was pulling on and tightening her abdominal fascia. After he completed a lot of therapy on that leg, she had four bowel movements within twenty-four hours of that first appointment.
Her abdomen was also noticeably less tense on palpation. She started closing her mouth and nose-breathing for the first time since birth aside from when she was nursing. We had tried many interventions to rectify the mouth-breathing like craniosacral therapy and exercises to stimulate the oral nerves, etc. to no avail.
Two months later, she is now having multiple bowel movements a day and maintains a closed mouth and nose-breathing at all times other than when talking or laughing. The only variable was her Gillespie Approach therapy.
Following our second appointment, she slept through the night for the first time in months, and her tolerance to everything increased exponentially. She became an extremely pleasant, generally happier, and more easy-going baby.
I never travelled long distances with her as she would cry incessantly in the car seat, but now I can go anywhere and she is easygoing and unbothered. We have travelled across the country with multiple plane rides, long car rides, sleep deprivation, and she has been an angel.
The day after our return home from one trip, she slipped on an object and fell, hitting the back of her head on hard linoleum. She instantly became extremely irritable, lethargic, and threw herself into convulsions if we did anything that upset her.
After a day or two of these symptoms and the stark change in behavior, I concluded she had a mild concussion. Dr. Gillespie found she had returned to a zero-second brain cycle and had significant new whiplash strain in her neck from that accident. The concussion symptoms I was seeing were probably reflected in large part from the zero-second brain cycle.
When she opened up again to a 150-second brain cycle on that visit, I later noticed the resolution of all of her concussion symptoms. By the end of all of our sessions with Dr. Gillespie, she had a brain cycle of over 200 seconds and was an entirely different child.
The Gillespie Approach has been life-changing for our family. I am so impressed by our experience that I plan to learn it myself so I can work on my daughter and other family members throughout life. Thank you Dr. Gillespie and all CFT bodyworkers for what you do for babies and families! It has and will change the world.