Before I had my first, I didn’t give breastfeeding much thought. I figured the baby would know what to do, and I just thought it would come naturally.
As the delivery nurse pinched my nipples into the shape of a hamburger and I awkwardly held my newborn, I realized I was in for a significant learning curve.
We call it liquid gold for a reason. Breastmilk is a superfood like no other. And for this reason, and many others, many moms want to breastfeed exclusively.
I know I’m not the only one shocked by how difficult nursing was initially. Studies show that 90% of Canadian moms begin breastfeeding, 50% have stopped by six months because it is painful or too difficult.
Let me throw in a little disclaimer: There is no judgement if you chose not to breastfeed or if you were not able to reach your goals. We have the freedom of choice in how we raise our babies.
With the right support, nursing can usually become an enjoyable experience.
I treat babies using osteopathic techniques and craniosacral therapy as a massage therapist. Treatment is oh-so-gentle and successful.
We often don’t think of babies as tight or stiff because they are so soft and squishy. In reality, they get tight, and this tension can make feeding difficult.
Think about the typical birth.
Contractions create a ton of force through the baby’s body.
Maybe the baby’s shoulder got stuck.
Maybe other interventions were part of your baby’s delivery.
These can lead to compression in the spine, stiff shoulders, a stiff neck.
Sometimes you’ll notice that your baby can turn its head quickly one way and not the other. Maybe a flat spot on the head.
Or maybe you notice your baby tires quickly when nursing or cluster feeds All.Day.Long.
Here is the mic drop moment – Neck tension reduces tongue mobility.
A baby will chomp instead of suckle when the tongue doesn’t move in its wave motion. When a baby chomps on the nipple, it HURTS… and you can be sure there is a lot of muscle compensation going on.
When nursing is painful, it will take a very motivated mother to persevere.
In treatment, we work through these muscle imbalances using gentle techniques. Some babies are so resilient that they nurse easily after mobility work.
Others need a little more support. So we stretch, we make tummy time enjoyable, we do muscle re-education and suck training. And, of course, it’s essential to address the baby’s latch. Sometimes the way that baby is brought to the breast prevents feeding efficiency.
If you want to breastfeed your baby and have a tough time, I WANT to KNOW what’s going on for you. Let’s connect and see how baby bodywork can support your tiny human to live their best life.