Breastfeeding is a very normal, natural process but that doesn't mean it is without its struggles. Painful latching, cracked nipples, shallow latches, babies struggling to feed on one side, figuring what nursing position works for the two of you, supply issues, and the list goes on.
So why would you go see a chiropractor for help with this? There are a few different reasons! When talking with parents about breastfeeding difficulties, we will also have a conversation about how the birth process went. When did the mom's water break? For how long was it broken before the baby was born? How long did pushing go? What was the baby's positioning during pushing? What was the mother's positioning during pushing? If the birth was a C-section, what did the labor process look like prior to the surgery? All of this play's a role in how the baby's body feels and functions.
The birth process causes cranio-cervical strain in approximately 80% of babies, according to research (cranio, meaning the cranium or skull, and cervical, meaning the neck). If babies have strain/tension in their head and necks, it will impact breastfeeding, among other things. It may be difficult to turn their head to one side, making feeding on one breast more difficult than the other. It may be difficult to open their mouth fully, making their latch shallower. Their palate, inside of their mouth, may be uneven, which will make sucking painful as the nipple is pressed against it.
The nerves that innervate the tongue emerge from the brain through parts of the cranium and the upper neck. Tension on these nerves will impact the motor information they carry to the tongue, which can affect the sucking reflex and how strongly a baby can suck.
Chiropractic care can be very helpful for babies and their mothers dealing with these issues. Specific cranial work and chiropractic adjustments will help relieve some of the strain and tension on the baby's head and neck. They will have better range of motion in their neck, meaning they can turn their head in both directions. They will have a better, stronger latch, thanks to the release of tension inside the mouth and jaw.
If you know of parents who are struggling to establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship, refer them to a chiropractor! Dr. Morgan has specialized training to take care of infants. In addition to chiropractic care, she also highly recommends working with a bodyworker who has training in craniofascial work.
Questions? Let us know! :)