Breastfeeding your baby can be regarded as the most natural thing in the world. However for many mums this can also be a stressful event. Often, mothers experience problems with positioning and attachment to the breast without knowing why.
Recent studies are now showing that feeding difficulties are not always due to wrong positioning or technique. The birth process can cause trauma to a baby’s spine, cranium and jaw – leading to muscle and spinal imbalance that make feeding extremely challenging for the mum and baby.
Most parents in our society are well aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Breast milk not only provides your baby with all the essential nutrients required for development,it also helps bonding between mother and baby. And it offers several benefits for both of you; physically and psychologically. What’s more it helps improve development for the baby’s first years of life.
Why can breastfeeding be problematic?
Did you know that your baby is using 6 cranial nerves and 60 voluntary and involuntary muscles in order to suck, swallow and breathe?
The birth process involves pressure on the baby’s head and even a normal, unassisted birth can disrupt normal nerve and muscle function, affecting the newborns movement pattern and feeding ability.
Also those mums who have experienced assisted births, such as forceps, ventouse or c- section have been found to be more likely to stop breastfeeding early, than those that experienced unassisted births.
How can a chiropractor help with breast-feeding?
A chiropractic assessment can confirm areas of imbalance and tightness – causing pressure on the baby´s cranial nerves which may affect feeding. The chiropractic assessment involves the chiropractor taking a thorough history of the pregnancy and birth before a full assessment of the baby’s spine, cranium and musculature. This is important as reduced range of movement in the neck and cranial bones, jaw restriction and muscle tightness may affect the baby’s sucking ability.
A recent study shows the benefits of combined Midwifery and Chiropractic care for breastfeeding difficulties: You can read the article here
How does the treatment work? A chiropractic treatment for a newborn consists of very gentle pressure applied to the imbalanced areas in the spine to improve alignment. This can help the muscles relax and function properly. The infant’s spine and musculature is much more malleable than an adult’s and requires less pressure in order to adjust imbalances and improve range of movement. The baby may begin to start breast feeding within a week if the cause is mechanical.
Are you finding it difficult or painful to breastfeed? Contact your local chiropractor to make an appointment to identify the reasons why.
Elisabeth Berg Simmenes is a chiropractor with a special interest for pregnancy and paediatric care and has previously been working in a newborn feeding clinic alongside midwifes and healthcare professionals. She offers a free 20 minutes consultation to help guide you in the right direction. Click here for more information.