We all know it is important for babies to get good nutrition so that they can be healthy and strong. However, some mothers find it really difficult to breastfeed for various reasons. It is so important that mothers understand that there are ways to improve the breastfeeding experience, and that chiropractic can offer a helping hand with many of these issues.
“It’s painful to breastfeed”
One of the reasons why it may be painful to breastfeed is that baby has a problem with TMJ function and/or the muscles around the jaw, including the tongue, which is causing baby to suck in a strange way that may cause pain for mom. An injury to the jaw can take place during the birthing process, especially with breech presentation, or a shoulder dystocia. Sometimes even a normal, incident-free birth can cause problems with the way the jaw moves and can create a lot of tension in the muscles in the area.
La Leche League identifies chiropractic as an effective option for babies damaged by vacuum or forceps, and for those whose muscles and bones are not working well together causing the baby to be in pain, or become a poor feeder. A poorly feeding baby does not drain the breast sufficiently, therefore the mom suffers the secondary impact of reduced milk production.
Have your baby assessed by a chiropractor – birth trauma and in-utero constraint (where the baby’s ability to move around freely is hindered) can both affect a baby’s ability to breastfeed. The baby’s skull, neck and jaw malpositioning may all be contributing to their inability to suckle.
“I don’t have enough milk”
It’s also important for mom to be checked by a chiropractor. Chiropractic adjustments can reduce inflammation and compression of intercostal nerves that connect the nipple, areola and breast with the pituitary gland. The result is an increase in milk supply.
“My baby will only feed on one side”
Feeding effectively from both sides is important if breastfeeding is going to continue. Wanting to feed only from one side often happens because baby has a problem in the upper neck, affecting his or her ability to rotate the head, a necessary motion if baby is going to effectively breastfeed. Chiropractic can help by restoring correct motion to the upper neck, allowing breastfeeding to continue on both sides.
This is a very brief summary of some ways that chiropractic care can help with breastfeeding, and of course is not the answer to all the problems that you might be having. If you need more help or advice please ask your lactation consultant, midwife, and/or healthcare provider.
Miller, J.E., Miller, L., Sulesund, A.K., Yevtushenko, A. (2009). Contribution of Chiropractic Therapy to Resolving Suboptimal Breastfeeding: A Case Series of 114 Infants. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 32(8): 670-674. Sheader, W.E. (1999). Chiropractic management of an infant experiencing breastfeeding difficulties and colic: a case study. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, 4(1).Vallone, S. (2004) Chiropractic evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction in infants demonstrating difficulty breastfeeding. J Clin Chiro Pediatrics, 6(1):349-368. (1993) Birth-induced TMJ syndrome is most common cause of breastfeeding difficulties. Dynamic Chiropractic. August 13, 1993: 11(17). Willis, S. (2011) The Restoration of Optimal Breastfeeding after Chiropractic Care in a Neonate with Breastfeeding Difficulties: A Case Report. J Clin Chiro Ped, 12(1);873-5. Vallone SA, Tow J. Collaborative Assessment and Management of Breastfeeding Difficulties by Lactation. Consultant and Chiropractor: A Case Series. WFC’S 10th Biennial Congress. International Conference of Chiropractic Research. Montreal, Canada. Apr 30 – May 2, 2009: 230-1.