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  • Motherhood Melbourne

3 top tips for surviving an unsettled newborn – An Osteopath's perspective

Does your baby appear to be in pain? Is it difficult to settle them and are you getting tired of flippant comments such as "all babies cry" and "that's normal," when you just 'feel' like something isn't quite right? You are not alone and many new exhausted mother's are asking these same questions. What you might not know is that an Osteopath can help with an unsettled newborn. Dr Carrie Nisbet is an Osteopath, Mum of 3 and owner of Bump & Bub Health Hub in Geelong. With a special focus on Mums and babies, Dr. Carrie is sharing 3 tips for surviving an unsettled newborn. This is a must-read for new Mums.


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Written by Dr. Carrie Nisbet – Osteopath and owner of Bump & Bub Health Hub.


As a dedicated Osteopath treating in Geelong and after becoming a proud mother of three boys under the age of two, I developed a passion for treating mums and babies. It drove me to follow my heart and open Bump & Bub Health Hub.

After falling pregnant with twins the second time round I vividly remember the shock I felt as we came to the realisation that our lives were about to change forever. People often ask me, “How did you survive?” and my response is always, “Ask for help.” Call on the people around you. Put aside your pride, stubbornness and fear of rejection and submit to the rollercoaster ride that is parenthood. It really does take a tribe to raise your little people and the helping hands of my husband and both sets of grandparents really helped me keep my sanity.

Osteopaths have 5 years of university training and our strength is our case history taking when we are always asking “WHY is this person in pain?” This helps to establish the root cause so that we are not just treating the symptoms. After surviving an unsettled baby myself, I set out to explore the WHY behind his behaviour. I completed some extensive training in paediatrics from which my little business, Bump & Bub Health Hub grew.

In my line of work I have become very attuned with looking at the pregnancy and birth from the babies point of view. Babies position in utero, especially in cases where there is space constraint, can place some strain on their little body. I also look at the birth history and recognise that the forces on a babies body during labour, especially if interventions are used such as induction, forceps and ventouse suction, may all cause some tightness in their connective tissues.


To give some insight into my experience I have come up with these 3 top tips to surviving an unsettled newborn:

1. Have your baby checked and treated after birth by an osteopath with additional paediatrics training?

In clinic I typically see a lot of babies who are having trouble latching and sucking on the breast and bottle, head turning preference, which may interfere with feeding and cause fussing on one breast, babies that are irritable lying on their back in the car/pram/cot, babies that are suffering from excessive wind and abdominal discomfort, excessive spitting up and vomiting of milk-just to name a few.


Correct winding techniques are just some of the ways I get parents involved in helping to ease their babies sore tummies. Tummy time and gentle exercises can also be given to help promote head and neck movement.

2. Do not overstimulate your baby.

Think of the conditions inside the uterus. Babies have just come from an environment that is warm, dark, quiet, (ie. not much stimuli), the sounds of a mum's heart beating, gentle movement of the mum breathing. It’s no wonder some babies have a hard time adjusting to the outside world. They are experiencing everything for the first time and their nervous system is not mature enough to deal with loud noises, people in their face 'gooing' and 'garring' all day long, being passed around to a heap of different strangers.


Read your babies cues and if they start to disengage, lose eye contact and become unsettled try and recreate the environment of the womb so they feel safe. Dark quiet room, swaddling and cuddles on the chest so they can feel and hear the heart beat and smell their parent. All of these things help to regulate their nervous system and promote calm.

3. Stimulate the vagus nerve through social engagement.

The brain and gut connection is a fascinating one. I’m going to get all technical on you now but it’s important to understand the role of the nervous system in calming down an unsettled baby. In stressful situations, this nerve is working really hard to regulate and calm down digestion, heart rate and breathing.


The cool thing is we have direct access to stimulating the vagus nerve through social engagement. We can use skin on skin contact, gazing into your babies eyes, gentle singing and humming, smiling facial expressions and rocking them to stimulate the vagus nerve which in effect calms down an aroused baby. These things make them feel safe in their environment, triggers positive chemical changes in the brain, hence supporting the child’s physical and mental well being.

As an osteopath we have a bag of tricks and techniques that are aimed at freeing up restrictions around the pathway of this vagus nerve which may also help.

If you have any questions about the above information I would be more than happy to speak to you via email on [email protected]. Alternatively, if you are interested in seeing if osteopathy can help your baby, bookings can be made via my website



Providing osteopathic treatment and techniques to help support mums and bubs health.


Business owner: Dr. Carrie Nisbet


Fav café: Miss Frank Cafe in Camberwell .Their smashed avo is to die for.

Coffee order: I’m more of a hot chocolate girl. Caffeine has never agreed well with me #heartpalpitations.


Address: 162 Bellerine St Geelong VIC


[email protected]


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