Breast Feeding - Chiropractic and fussy feedingOptiStart Chiropractic
Chiropractic can have a role to play in helping with breastfeeding comfort or difficulties. There are several mechanisms discussed in the literature on how Chiropractic may be affecting the breastfeeding process. These biomechanical or neuromuscular problems could include:
1. A decreased excursion of the jaw preventing the mouth from opening widely enough to encompass the nipple and areola.
2. A decrease in the cervical range of motion, which affects ability to position comfortably in their mother’s arms or at the breast.
3. A neurologic deficit affecting the suckling or rooting reflexes.
4. An ineffective latch due to altered lip or tongue action.
5. Impaired breathing (restriction in thoracic excursion or diaphragmatic action or lack of patent airway).
6. A rapid milk ejection reflex (MER) or overabundant milk supply might result in compensatory muscle action (clenching, etc.) to modulate milk flow.
(Vallone SA Chiropractic evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction in infants demonstrating difficulty breastfeeding. Clin Chiropr Pediatr. 2004 Spr;6(1):349-368)
Subluxation (spinal dysfunction), occurs in a predictable manner, with predictable breastfeeding difficulty patterns. These include altered:
- Attachment – difficulty getting onto the breast.
- Fussiness – arching, shaking, pulling - once attached.
- Suck – too strong, too weak, poor co-ordination
- Swallow - choking, gagging, or coughing when feeding.
- Pain for mother when feeding
- Side preference - baby prefers to feed off one side. (Stewart, 2012)
Our Chiropractors are trained to recognise if the difficult breastfeeding is not related to body function. Co-management with other health professionals, e.g. lactation consultants is usually recommended.