Breastfeeding is a tough job and it's important to be supported throughout the process. The first month is full of challenges that can cause a new mom to give up on breastfeeding. I want to offer some insight as a chiropractor on some of these challenges. Let me first say I am not an expert at breastfeeding nor am I wanting to replace professional advice from a lactation consultant or your doctor. My insight comes strictly from the paradigm that babies should innately feed from the breast, and if not, what is interfering with that intelligent process? Chiropractic has been known to help babies feed better when certain challenges arise, and when I hear "I tried everything possible to breastfeed", I wish they'd had more information.
So, let's cover some of the reasons moms feel like they cannot successfully breastfeed that I believe can benefit from chiropractic specifically.
1. My baby will not latch
I hear this ALL the time, and it saddens me when a mom wants to breastfeed and has to give up that dream bc her baby won't latch.
I like to think about things in our primal days. How would a healthy baby be born with no ability to feed? Before bottles and formula were invented? A baby under normal circumstances, SHOULD instinctually know how to latch and suckle, and if they don't, we need to ask why.
The biggest question I would ask would be... how was the birth process? I'll go over this in more detail in a separate article but generally speaking, the birth process can be rough on a baby's fragile spine and nervous system. Then add forceps, vacuum and even c-section in the mix and you have yourself lots of added stress on a babies spine and nervous system. So here's the thing, in order to effectively latch, suckle and remove milk from the breast, a baby's head and neck must be free of interferences so that the muscles of the jaw can perform this task effectively. So, before you give up hope with a not so good latch, get your baby checked by a pediatric trained chiropractor! Besides allowing baby to effectively latch, chiropractic for babies will remove the stress and tension from the birth process and improve immune function and digestion/gut function, along with so many more benefits.
Breastfeeding Difficulties Resolve After Chiropractic
Birth Induced TMJ Dysfunction: The Most Common Cause of Breastfeeding DifficultyChiropractic Evaluation and Treatment of Musculoskeletal Dysfunction in Infants Demonstrating Difficulty Breastfeeding
2. I wasn't producing enough milk
So there may be many reasons mom isn't producing enough milk, but the one I'm going to briefly go over correlates with what we just talked about. If your baby is not removing milk from the breast, your body is not going to produce it. So it's important babies latch is effective at removing milk for your body to be producing. Another reason why a check after birth by a pediatric trained chiropractor is crucial and important.
I would also highly recommend you visit with a lactation consultant to help with the baby's latch and learn more in regards to latching and breastfeeding, etc!
3. My baby was allergic to my milk
There's tons of information out there you can learn more about allergens in the milk from dairy, soy, corn, wheat, etc.. and breastfeeding diet, I'm just here to offer support. If you're breastfeeding and you cut out that allergen from your diet, then your baby is no longer allergic to your milk. Trust me, I've been there. Playing with dairy, soy, etc.. trying to figure out what you're doing wrong to make your baby gassy... it's frustrating and it's not easy! But if giving your child the beautiful gift of breast milk is important to you, you will jump through many colorful hoops to make that possible.
Also, remember when I said chiropractic improves gut and digestive function in a baby (really an individual of ANY age). Your babies fussiness and gassiness could be improved though chiropractic. When that stressful birth process interferes with your babies vagus nerve, located in their upper neck, you have the potential to have a gassy/colicky baby on your hands.
4. My nipples hurt!
Yes, I get this one. Those first 2 -4 weeks are rough! I dreaded every latch because it hurt so bad. In this case, the pain should get better as baby gets more experienced with breastfeeding. If not make sure you take measure to fix the latch (i.e. See a Chiropractor and Lactation consultant!!) This one DOES get better.
Breastfeeding can be challenging, even when no struggles exist! You may try everything in the books and still be unsuccessful in breastfeeding. Every experience is going to be different but I want to make sure moms have the most information before they transition to formula.
Make sure you have a good support team to help you through. Have your significant other help you by keeping your water bottle full (breastfeeding makes you extra thirsty!) and helping prepare food for you, and just grabbing things you forgot before you sat down to feed baby.
Contact a pediatric chiropractor to assure baby's spine and nervous system is functioning optimally. See a lactation consultant if you're having any other issues.
Other great resources:
La Leche League
Seriously mommas, you got this and you rock.