Breastfeeding is considered the most natural thing in the world. As a mum you are providing a key food source including vitamins, nutrients and immunity to give your baby the best start in life. It is a special time to bond with your baby, convenient and at no additional cost.
Breastfeeding is a skill that mum and baby need to master together. Some find it easier than others. There are a lot of mechanical, physical, emotional and hormonal factors that influence how easy or challenging this can be. Signs that baby may not be effectively breastfeeding include:
- Struggling to latch onto the nipple/breast
- Sucking ineffectively
- Making mum’s nipples sore
- Taking a long time to feed
- Preferring one breast more than the other
If you feel that your baby is not breastfeeding effectively you should chat with your midwife or health visitor as a first step. Alternatively, go direct to a local drop-in centre (such as Shefford Children’s Centre or Biggleswade Baby Brasserie).
There are many reasons why a baby struggles with breastfeeding. These are commonly linked to musculoskeletal issues, often caused by how they were laying in utero during pregnancy. This could also be due to stress and strains of the birth process. Some signs of musculoskeletal issues within babies are:
- Prefers head to be on one side
- Cannot turn head both ways
- Increased tension in muscles, creating a banana-shaped body
- Uncomfortable in certain positions e.g. lying on back for nappy change, or in car seat
Any of the above may create tension and discomfort for a baby, in turn influencing if they are comfortable when trying to feed.
Helping Baby, Supporting Mum
Many mums worry about not being able to effectively breastfeed their babies. This can lead to tears, frustration and guilt. Here at Shefford Osteopathic Clinic we are experienced at treating babies and children. We can support mum by undertaking a thorough examination of their baby which includes the body and head. This helps us understand if there are strains and tensions that may be influencing breastfeeding. When breastfeeding issues are present we pay particular attention to babies’ jaw, head, neck and tongue muscles.
Treatment on babies is always very gentle. It may include massage, gentle movement and hands on their head (cranium). We may give you some gentle movement exercises to do with baby when you get home to help promote movement and strengthen muscles.
We find babies respond quickly to treatment as their bodies are dynamic and every changing.
If we feel referral back to other healthcare practitioners is required (such as your health visitor, GP or a lactation consultant) then we will discuss with you at the time.
This article was written by Melissa Thorpe, a Registered Osteopath in the Shefford Osteopathic Clinic team.