One of the hottest topics out there at the moment is breastfeeding, thanks to the Attachment Parenting cover of Time magazine. We all know it is important for babies to get good nutrition so that they can be healthy and strong. 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”: Adjustment for baby
The first reason why it may be painful to breastfeed is that baby has a problem with his/her 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 mum. An injury to the jaw can take place during the birthing process, especially with presentations such as breech presentation, mentum (jaw) presentation, or a shoulder dystocia. Sometimes a normal, incident-free vaginal birth can cause problems with the way the jaw moves and can create a lot of tension in the muscles in the area. Taking your baby to a chiropractor to assess the function of their TMJs, cranial bones, neck and muscles is something that may help improve your breastfeeding experience.
The second reason why breastfeeding may be painful is that the baby has a tongue tie. This is more common than you would think, and is easily dealt with by cutting the tie (of course this must be done by a doctor, and there are many around who will do this in rooms). Seeing a chiropractor can also help to release any muscles that may have become tight from the altered feeding action that a tongue tie causes.
“I don’t have enough milk”- Adjustment for mum
Breastfeeding may be painful because something is limiting milk production for mum, and often it’s a lot of things all at once. Stress, nutritional deficiency, and medications are just a few examples. Chiropractic may be of help to mum by relieving postural strain and problems that may affect milk production. It’s also important to remember that breastfeeding is about supply and demand – the more baby feeds, the more milk you will produce!
“My baby will only feed on one side”- Adjustment for baby
This seemingly insignificant problem is actually a big one! Think of the implications – baby won’t feed on one side, which means that mum has to express from that side and the decreased flow of milk means higher incidence of mastitis or other infections, etc. 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, doctor or chiropractor.