ITV News’ Alex Forrest takes her baby somewhere funny

As a certificated resident of the Westminster village, it’s strange watching the party conference season from afar. But I’m getting used to being removed from the big political events of the year. Hey, I was the political correspondent who managed to miss the entire general election – the ‘most exciting in decades’. Why? Well I achieved something far more important than a political scoop – I had a baby.

My beautiful son Charlie arrived 10 days before the election. He weighed a rather eye-watering nine pounds. Let’s just say it wasn’t an easy delivery. But my husband and I formed a perfect coalition, with me doing all the hard work. Eventually, Charles Stanley Whiting arrived 16 days late.

The trauma of his birth is why I thought that, at 10 weeks old, Charlie should visit a cranial osteopath. Friends had told me that this treatment is supposed to help realign the body from the head to the bottom of the spine. It’s recommended for babies delivered using ventouse and forceps, so I decided to give it a go.

When I arrived at the health centre, I was greeted by a woman who can best be described as an ‘ageing hippy’. We followed her down to the basement and into a room furnished with large scatter cushions and candles… very new age.

I’m not sure exactly when I began to get nervous. But I knew that things didn’t feel right after I had reassured her several times that yes, mentally, I really was fine, thank you.

Charlie must have sensed my nervousness because he began to cry.

“Do you mind if I feed him?” I asked.

“Go ahead – use the cushions if you’d like,” she replied.

She followed us over to the other side of the room, and asked if she could begin the treatment. I nodded, thinking finally that the massage would begin.

She asked Charlie’s permission to place her hand above his head. Silence. It was like she was praying for him. At this point I began to wonder if this was a joke. Perhaps I was being secretly filmed?

So being the brave journalist that I am, I whispered:  “Excuse me.  When does the head massage begin?”

Alex & Charlie

“Massage?” she said. “No this isn’t massage, this is craniosacral therapy”.

“Cranio what?” I stuttered, my heart pounding.

“Craniosacral therapy. It’s hard to explain but it’s a sort of psychotherapy”.

So there I was, sitting on a cushion, in a basement, with my 10-week-old baby on my lap, Mamma Cass beside me with her hand raised above my son’s head, apparently psychoanalysing him.

And then Charlie began to talk – not in words obviously, but baby babble. I’d never heard him so vocal. I was transfixed and it seemed to last an age.

“What’s he saying?” I finally heard myself ask.

“I don’t know exactly,” she replied.  “But he’s telling me all about his difficult birth.  He has a lot to say.”

Perhaps he was thinking ‘where there’s blame there’s a claim’.

As I sat motionless, wondering if I should just make a run for it, Charlie continued his conversation. The therapist, too, continued her treatment, moving her hand to his tummy and then his sacrum, at the bottom of the spine. Each time she asked his permission and each time it appeared that he responded.

Please believe me when I say that I did try to get more information out of the therapist. But even to my simple question about what difference this would make to Charlie, her answers seemed evasive. She told me I would notice a change, but she couldn’t tell me what that change would be.

As I was paying £51 for the hour-long treatment (£1 for the pleasure of using a card), I just couldn’t help thinking that I had been well and truly had. How could I explain this to my husband? How could I explain it to myself?

And yet that evening, for the first time ever, my son slept right through the night. No demands for milk at 3 am or even 5am. No squawks. Charlie slept from 11pm until six thirty in the morning. For any new parent, this feels like the longest lie-in you’ve ever had.

So was it the craniosacral therapy? Or was it just a fluke? I really don’t know. But for a good night’s sleep (and quite a few more after that) it was worth every penny.

Alex Forrest is political correspondent, ITV news. She is on maternity leave.

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