The benefits of breastfeeding are well known, so it can be very disappointing for mothers who find that they are unable to breastfeed. There are actually very few mothers who have a primary breast glandular insufficiently (inadequate milk supply).
Breastfeeding difficulties are very common in the newborn baby
As chiropractors we see this frequently in the clinic but very often parents do not complain of difficulty breastfeeding, rather we hear of the complaints that result from this problem:
- Sore and/or cracked nipples
- Recurrent mastitis
- Excessive crying
- Excess spitting
- Restlessness during or between feeds
- Falling asleep on the breast
- Prefers one breast
- Needing to take a bottle immediately after the breast
Many breastfeeding difficulties are due to problems with the joints and muscles of the baby’s neck, jaw and cranial bones. All of these delicate tissues can be traumatized in the birth process.
A common problem of the newborn is a consistent preference for one breast when feeding, or an ineffective sucking technique. Many mothers believe that there is a problem with their milk supply, but this is rarely the case.
A baby who attaches and/or feeds better on one breast may have an upper neck restriction. Misalignment of the Occiput- C1-C2 joint complex in the neck may cause restriction and pain with certain head positions and movements.
Ineffective sucking is often associated with compression of the occipital bone (base of the skull). Cranial nerves, which control sucking/rooting/tongue control, exit at this point. When compressed, this can lead to irritability of the area, and create problems such as pulling off the nipple, excessively long or short feeds, falling asleep on the breast, arching their back, and a baby who constantly wants to feed.
Chiropractic adjustments realign the upper neck joints, balancing the joints and muscles of the jaw, neck and cranial bones therefore relieving tension and allowing the baby to feed easily. Not only may this correct poor f e e d i n g a n d s u c k i n g techniques, but also usually improves poor sleeping habits as a result.
Simple gentle non-force techniques are used to correct spinal and cranial joint dysfunction which decreases the irritation in the area, and can be very effective in solving sucking and feeding difficulties in the newborn.
The two primary activities of infancy are feeding and sleeping. There is evidence that disruption to sucking also disrupts sleep, as sucking lowers the heart rate, decreases the metabolic rate and increases feelings of calmness. It can be a great comfort to both parents and babies when these simple examination and treatment techniques by a chiropractor can solve these problems quickly and easily.