Breastfeeding and Chiropractic Care
First and foremost when starting your breastfeeding journey, I highly recommend having a relationship with a lactation consultant of some kind. In our area there are individual lactation consultants, the Baby Bistro at Heart and Hands Midwifery on Saturdays, and the North Valley Hospital meet ups.
That being said, having a chiropractor on your team is also highly beneficial for a successful breastfeeding journey. Let's dig into some anatomy to explain why! The birth process can lead to a lot of tension in the baby's neck and head. Upwards of 80% of babies have strain to their neck/cranium after birth, research shows. With this occurring, it makes it more difficult for the baby to turn or tilt their head. You may have seen pictures of babies who seem to have their head tilted to one side or are always looking in one direction. This isn't necessarily a coincidence or a matter of how they are positioned. If the baby is feeling stiff in an area of their body, they are going to naturally want to put themselves in the most comfortable position. Our bodies are smart! It takes less energy to be in a comfortable position than it does to be in an uncomfortable one.
However, if your baby that is feeling any level of tension in their body, it is going to make it more difficult for breastfeeding. They may have a hard time feeding on one breast over the other. They may have a harder time latching. The latch may be shallow and be pinchy or painful for you. The baby's jaw can also be impact by the birth process and it may be harder to open their mouth fully.
Here's where getting adjusted comes in! The chiropractic adjustment for a baby (which is extremely gentle) is going to assess and correct areas where tension is occurring in their spine and their head. Cranial work is key here! When your baby feels less stiff and more at ease, it will be easier for them to rotate their head in both directions, tilt their head in both directions, feed easily on both sides, and have a better, stronger latch.
Note on oral ties: if your baby has a tongue or lip tie that is impacting breastfeeding and the tissues are not functional, I also highly highly recommend getting chiropractic care (or any kind of bodywork) pre and post laser revision. This is going to make sure that your baby goes into the procedure with the least amount of tension in their body, ideally making the amount of tissue that needs to be lasered even less, and then recovery smoother as well.
Breastfeeding is a very normal, natural process but it also has a learning curve to it! If you know of a mother and baby who are struggling with a painful latch, a mother who is worried about her milk supply, or a mother and baby who are dealing a tongue or lip tie, let them know they have options and don't have to give up! Even if you are not local to the Flathead, you can search for a chiropractor near you on icpa4kids.org and find a knowledgeable pediatric chiropractor to help!